Being a fast follower might not be a bad thing


While you do get a sense there is widespread acceptance among publishers of the importance of developing integrated advertising solutions, I think the points raised in the last blog do present challenges when publishers are faced with the investment costs required to take on the new competitors of Google Offers and Groupon.

I was encouraged to see the recent announcement by The New York Times outlining their plans to launch a Groupon product to their advertisers. The main source of encouragement was that their plan is almost a carbon copy of ours at The Irish Times.

This either means we are both doomed to failure or there is something of potential in our combined wisdom. While there appears to be a limitless number of new Groupon imitators coming to the market in recent months, the approach generally seems to be a carbon copy based on huge discounts and high volumes.

While there is little doubt that this model has been resolutely successful, so much so the boffins at Google had even got their cheque book out to try and buy them. It is also clearly a proposition the sits very much in the integrated advertising space which occupies the thoughts of this blog.

The opportunity for newspapers in taking on Groupon and its many imitators lies very much at the heart of the benefits we have spoken about before:

  1. The strength of and trust in our brands.
  2. The loyalty, scale and value of our audience.
  3. Our ability to sell and create solutions for advertisers.

What remains important against this backdrop is that we continue to focus on our strengths when we develop new integrated advertising solutions. There is no shame in being late to the market with an alternative to Groupon; in fact, it is appropriate given our recent history of cost-cutting to occupy the role of a fast follower.

The need to develop new solutions for advertisers will only increase as audiences continue to consume content across a range of platforms. If we can become more agile as organisations in developing and launching products, we don’t need to worry about being first. What we do need to spend our time on is creating and developing the proposition to be differentiated and to play to our strengths.

Groupon is a global phenomenon and the hunger for deals continues to grow for consumers. There are a sufficient number of businesses who want to project their brand and retain some control on their margins into the future.

This is a small but relevant example of how newspapers can deliver a differentiated proposition to their advertisers and compete with businesses like Groupon. By offering an exclusive targeted and integrated proposition we can deliver something that allows our advertisers to retain some control of their brands and their margins while also driving footfall and sales directly to their businesses. The focus on customer experience and brand value is something Groupon is not renowned for and as a consequence advertisers who use them do run the risk of damaging their brands and bottom line over time.

In a small way, by taking the positives of Groupon and applying a more targeted and differentiated approach, newspapers have the opportunity to provide an integrated advertising opportunity that is compelling. While at all times retaining a clear focus on the customer and the value of their brand.

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