Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s sexy niche publication fills needed audience hole for advertisers

By Patrick Klein

Our niche publication Street Pulse is full of content to drive a new or expanded audience, thus enabling us to replace two other publications no longer reaching their target audiences.

Buy & Sell (which is focused on the auto aftermarket) and Penny Saver (which is focused on classified products) were both were down to eight pages total, with four to six pages consisting of editorial/filler ads in their last month of publication. Craigslist and other free classified sites had eroded advertising in both of these. 

Street Pulse is a weekly photo-intense, edgy online, and print (distributed in 500 street racks) showcase of hot young adults and custom cars, featuring pictures from clubs, concerts, and other activities. 

Our idea was to expand brand awareness, create eye-catching covers, and get people who previously ignored the racks to look for Street Pulse. We wanted to make it a “must have” for Honolulu’s “young crowd,” i.e., Millennials likely also to be interested in such things as used cars and after-market car products our advertisers are selling.

The contest

How better to do that than give away a US$35,000 Kia Forte Koup SX and US$100 gas cards?

Four months after introducing Street Pulse, we launched a 10-week “Street Pulse Car Giveaway” promotion where readers had to answer trivia questions about Street Pulse for a chance to win a free car. We ran full-page ads with a weekly trivia question for 10 weeks. The answer to each question was in the same issue. 

One finalist was selected at random each week from all correct entries received. Each finalist won a US$100 gas card, two tickets to the popular University of Hawaii football game, and one of 10 keys that might start the Kia on game day.

The finalists were announced on a popular morning radio show favoured by our target demographic and in the next issue of Street Pulse. (If a finalist called the radio station within an hour of being named, he/she won an additional US$100 gas card.)

The promotion attracted hundreds of entries per week. All 10 finalists showed up for the football game. At half-time, each finalist selected one of the 10 keys. Each tried his or her key in the grand prize Kia parked on the field.

Marco Medina of Ewa Beach, Oahu, won when his key started the car. The reaction by the thousands of fans, whose attention was completely focused on the giveaway, was loud and enthusiastic. 

Four of the 10 finalists were young women, proving the promotion succeeded in attracting interest across gender lines.

The winner and the finalists were spotlighted in both the online and print edition of Street Pulse.

Street Pulse saw a rise a street rack distribution from a pre-promotion average of 35,826 to a post-promotion average of 42,040. The promotion grew the Street Pulse brand and developed a new audience. It created great “buzz” on the radio, as well as across online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The app

The first version of the Street Pulse app provides an optimised viewing experience for hand-held devices. The focus of the app centers around image galleries, which make up a large portion of the content. Users have easy access to the galleries and the app allows a number of native, touch gestures, including: pinch-to-zoom, landscape-orientation support, and swipe through photos.

The first version was released on September 17, 2013. The app traffic has steadily increased through the end of the year with an average of 42 screens viewed per visit (an incredibly high number). 

This demonstrates the effectiveness of the platform for content consumption, as the number of downloads increase, so will overall screenviews. 

The bottom line

Since its launch on March 30, 2012, Street Pulse has held steady at 32 pages with approximately a 60-40% advertising to editorial ratio — much different than the niche publications we sought to replace.

Here are some statistics from HonoluluStreetPulse.com from its first year:

  • Page views: 2,271,888.

  • Monthly unique visitors: 51,433.

  • Return frequency: 53% return daily.

  • Hawaii audience: 70.4%.

  • Facebook: 3,507 likes since inauguration

Street Pulse has increased advertising revenue to triple the revenue of Buy & Sell and Penny Saver combined. In our first year, we realised that not only are we reaching the original target audience, but also a 40+-year-old male reader predominantly viewing Street Pulse online between traditional work hours.

This was a unique and successful way of growing the Street Pulse brand, product, and new audience development. 

About Patrick Klein

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