Bold ad pricing, new narrative required with looming recession

By Christian Scherbel

Smartico

Berlin, Germany

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The paper supply crisis, inflation, war, and recession paint a dark picture of the future ahead for advertising. And thanks to high paper prices and inflation, publishers have to start out extra tough by announcing price hikes of 7%-10% just to keep margins.

This is a bad starting point … but only if you hold onto the narrative of “we are increasing prices because the world is going down — and our print audience with it.”

The challenge is how to transform small- and medium-business print advertisers like this into digital display campaign clients.
The challenge is how to transform small- and medium-business print advertisers like this into digital display campaign clients.

Because within every crisis lies an opportunity, this is our chance to become bold with pricing toward advertisers when we have a better story to offer. For example: “We are increasing prices by 10%-15% but adding digital to each and every print ad for free.”

Taking even the smallest loyal print advertisers to online spaces doesn’t seem to be a luxury anymore but rather a necessity.

Advertisers will be confronted with higher prices anyway. The “pain” of an 8% hike without any additional services versus 12% with a new online offering that is automatic, intuitive, and efficient should be at least just as valuable and worth a try.

If you still need convincing, here are a few other reasons to consider doing this with your longtail print advertisers.

Done with Meta and Google

Most of the local advertisers have tried the big guys’ online advertising by now. A few — usually the bigger ones and the ones with agencies — might stick with it.

But the smaller ones often struggled and are done experimenting now that they’ve seen how much work, time, money, and effort they put into getting a Google campaign to work and maintain its performance over time. By now, they are certainly open to digital alternatives that just work.

Personal care

While Meta and Google can’t be reached by the local advertiser, you are here for them — in your region, with your people, and in the same tough situation of a looming recession. Meanwhile, the big five of tech can set their prices freely, thanks to their dominance.

In contrast, as a news publisher, you provide banners out-of-the-box from a print ad with a landing page instead of letting the advertiser figuring it out. These are the small things, but they add up. And, especially in a crisis, this means the advertiser is conserving attention and saving money.

It is not only the advertising budget you can save but also the budget to create campaigns. With tools like “smart ads,” publishers build thousands of longtail display ad campaigns at scale without any internal resources. It’s all from print ads and AI-based Web research. This includes a landing page and intuitive reporting dashboards.

Results

When you have a great and creative (read: “expensive”) agency that you keep as a small advertiser in the crisis, your results might be decent. However, with your own banner formats, you might be fighting with a 0.1%-0.2% click-through rate and low ROI on your advertising dollar (or euro).

Print advertisers turning to publishers and solutions like smart ads that allow them to get online without any effort. Plus, they get results they understand and that move the needle, such as a measurable time of 30-100 minutes on a landing page instead of 0.1% click-through rate for a 5,000 ad impression campaign at US$99.

The creative can take the form of banners out of print data enriched with Web data about the advertiser. This is shown here in the form of a carousel ad.
The creative can take the form of banners out of print data enriched with Web data about the advertiser. This is shown here in the form of a carousel ad.

As a local advertiser I, for sure, would go with understandable attention instead of pure clicks.

The crisis and the new price list might be the final wake-up call to finally digitise those loyal print advertisers that either never tested an online atmosphere or tested it and decided it is not for them.

Convert print advertisers with products they understand:

  • Attention for their offerings instead of clicks on a Web site they built years ago (and do not really care about intrinsically).
  • Bundles with an existing print advertisement.
  • A banner and landing page created by you for them as a full-service offering, including tools that require no effort for your teams as a publisher.

Having this in place, it won’t be easy or fun to increase prices by 10%-15% with the new price lists for 2023. But, it will be much easier than a 7%-10% increase without a narrative.

About Christian Scherbel

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