When it comes to converting local companies that buy print ad space in a newspaper into companies that will buy digital ad space, there can be several hurdles. During the INMA members-only Webinar on Wednesday, Smartico CEO Christian Scherbel identified three of the major challenges with suggested solutions.
Smartico is an international remote-first tech and sales company based in Europe, working with large media groups as well as regional and independent publishers. The company works with more than 100 publishers to help them boost digital profit with existing print advertisers.
Based on data collected from Smartico’s research into the German local media market, Scherbel said ads on the front page of a newspaper are usually quite different from those on the publisher’s homepage. While the largest piece of advertising revenue for a newspaper is local companies, most companies advertising on the publisher’s Web site are national. The smaller the local advertiser, the less likely they are to buy a digital ad.
Because of the disparity, Scherbel thinks it’s a big opportunity for growth. Digital advertising is a different animal than print ads, however, so a different approach is needed.
The three major challenges Smartico found are:
Price and quality of banners.
Landing pages without a call to action.
Companies that are accustomed to print advertising can be easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of options for digital ads. In many cases, Scherbel said, a local advertiser will think: “If I don’t do anything [digital], then at least I’m not doing anything wrong.”
Those that do make the jump often try to use their print ad design in a digital space and use their existing Web site as the landing page. This usually ends up being both messy and expensive, not to mention unsuccessful at bringing in new customers.
Scherbel outlined a solution for each of these challenges.
1. Simplifying the business and sales model
Instead of offering every ad option available, Smartico found publishers had great success with business and sales models that were very simple. This means creating one clear package that only requires advertisers to choose yes or no.
For instance, a package might be for a single format (the size of the ad) at a fixed price for a specified number of ad impressions. Critical components of the business’ print ads are maintained, including regional targeting, and digital ad scheduling can take into account when print ads will run to enhance the print ad. This kind of clear messaging isn’t just easier for advertisers to understand, it’s also easier for the sales team to sell.
Scherbel offered examples of three publishers that have implemented this in very different ways:
- One that automatically bundles a digital ad with every print ad for a fixed price.
- One that defaults to a print and digital bundle that advertisers can opt out of.
- One that has a range of digital ad prices based on the size of the print ad.
Within the framework of simplifying the business and sales model, each was successful at boosting ad revenue in a way that worked for them.
2. Bundling banners and landing pages
When Scherbel talks about having one clear advertising package, that’s because the banner ad and landing page are included.
When you include the creation of a banner ad as well as a landing page, you take the burden off the local advertiser and shift it to someone who has the design expertise required. Using an AI service (like Smartico), all the relevant advertiser and campaign data can be extracted from print and combined with additional information about the company that’s available online.
With all this data, and by automating the information-gathering process, it’s easier to deliver a mobile-first banner based on best practices without the need for (time-consuming and costly) feedback loops.
Scherbel stressed that simply “solving the banner ad issue is, at most, only half the problem.” Including an optimised landing page is crucial in that it allows you to add prominent calls to action based on the offers a company wants to sell — not just their homepage.
And, as Scherbel noted, “I can’t change the sales narrative without the landing page.”
3. Changing the sales narrative
When selling a package with a limited number of ad impressions, every ad impression counts. But by only measuring clicks, sales teams are missing important information that is more meaningful to the local advertiser: attention.
Including a landing page in the advertising bundle means sales teams will have access to more tracking information than just clicks. They be able to tell a story that includes how many minutes someone spent on the site after clicking, how far they scrolled, and what devices they used. It’s a story about traffic quality, not quantity, and it’s a story that can be much easier for advertisers to understand.
According to Scherbel, the ability to shift the sales narrative with this new story is the “secret sauce.”