Amazon had a problem in Uttar Pradesh, the largest Hindi market in India. 

It seemed an unlikely situation, considering these statistics: 

  • Non-English consumption is growing five times faster than English content on Google. 
  • Hindi users are expected to reach 210 million, overtaking English users by 2021. 
  • 67% of the 483 million Hindi speakers are from the Hindi heartland.
  • E-tailing use by Hindi Internet users is set to quadruple from 19 million in 2017 to 75 million in 2021. 
  • 188 million Hindi speakers live in Uttar Pradesh, the largest Hindi market in India. 
  • 50 million Internet users live there, the second-largest Internet subscriber market in India. 
  • 175 million mobile subscribers live there, the largest mobile-subscriber market in India.

Yet most Uttar Pradesh shoppers didn’t understand Amazon. They worried about quality, price, fraud. They weren’t comfortable with the English apps, were confused by the mobile app, and preferred to shop locally. If they didn’t understand and trust it, they weren’t going to use it. 

Local customers didn't understand how Amazon worked. Vinod Shrivastava, chief/general manager of strategy/business/brand development at Jagran Prakashan, explains how the news brand helped change that.
Local customers didn't understand how Amazon worked. Vinod Shrivastava, chief/general manager of strategy/business/brand development at Jagran Prakashan, explains how the news brand helped change that.

“Amazon needed a solution to break through that mindset,” said Vinod Shrivastava, chief/general manager of strategy/business/brand development at Jagran Prakashan. Brand awareness wasn’t the issue, he explained. These problems were: 

  • Lack of credibility.
  • Lack of trust in online shopping.
  • Limited comfort in accessing the content. 

The solution proposed by Jagran Prakashan staff? Bring Amazon to these leery potential customers with an “Amazon at your doorstep” campaign and the co-branded Amazon van. 

Jagran Prakashan was one of five media companies that shared best practices in engaging with advertisers with INMA World Congress of News Media delegates at a Brainsnack Seminar Wednesday at Thomson Reuters headquarters in New York. The short, to-the-point case studies attracted more than 150 delegates. Others were Finland’s Ilta-Sanomat, the United States’ Newsday, New Zealand’s Stuff, and Norway’s Amedia.

As for Shrivastava and his Amazon challenge, the campaign and van were a hit.

“We covered 10 locations for 15 days across the largest areas,” Shrivastava said. “The newspaper announced the timing of the Amazon van. We had a demonstration of shopping on Amazon given by a promoter or an existing Amazon customer. We connected 300 brand ambassadors to evangelise. We had a WiFi hotspot at each location, and 30% of people downloaded the Amazon app there. We offered on-the-spot gratification with 580 Amazon gift vouncers when people downloaded the app. Then we covered that in the newspaper. We had a total of 40 full pages of editorial.” 

The campaign included print ads, radio spots, outdoor banners and posters, and leaflets. And it worked.

“People downloaded the app. They shopped. They unboxed,” Shrivastava said. “We reached 37,000 non-believers in 300 localities in 15 days. Amazon is very happy. They increased their spend with us by 37%.” 

Timo Rinne, vice president/commercial at Ilta-Sanomat in Finland, said the company wanted to build on the fact that it knows its customers personally and professionally in a way Facebook and Google analytics can’t replicate. By combining an advertiser’s data with the news brand’s data, Ilta-Sanomat could offer something nobody else could. 

Timo Rinne, vice president/commercial at Ilta-Sanomat, shared how it created unique data for its advertisers.
Timo Rinne, vice president/commercial at Ilta-Sanomat, shared how it created unique data for its advertisers.

“Even with our biggest clients, there is much more to be learned about the user,” he said. “We started with the biggest advertiser we had, K Group. They had segmented their users into five groups, but they had problems with their own data because they could only reach a certain amount of their audience. It wasn’t enough. We took segmentation keys, ran it with our own data, and came up with segments we can sell in traditional advertising as well as programmatic. This really changed the picture for them, so now they’re actually buying audience space in their own segments.”

K Group now knows what media programmes their audience segments are watching and what they are interested in, Rinne explained. The results? 

  • K Group almost tripled activation rates in its marketing campaigns.
  • A 167% uplift in activation rates.
  • Quadrupled reach potential in programmatic buying. 

Such collaboration is a focal point at Newsday Media Group in the United States. Newsday collaborated with advertiser P.C. Richard & Son on its SmartHome campaign.

“It’s really all about collaboration — not only with the advertiser, but it’s collaborating internally,” said Andrea Rothchild, senior vice president/advertising sales at Newsday Media Group. “The data. The great video storytelling. Are we leveraging all that great work to help the our advertisers? The answer is that it’s not that easy.”

Andrea Rothchild, senior vice president/advertising sales at Newsday Media Group, explains how external and internal collaboration are key to successful advertising sales.
Andrea Rothchild, senior vice president/advertising sales at Newsday Media Group, explains how external and internal collaboration are key to successful advertising sales.

Newsday, which is more than 75 years old and reaches 7.3 million customers, has an audience with a median household income of more than US$100,000 — not an easy segment to reach, Rothchild pointed out. In addition to traditional platforms (print, digital, newsletters, social, event, and video), Newsday also offers wearable and audio options for its advertisers, as well as a Brand360 in-house branding agency, which is helping the brand bring in new revenue.

“We are really committed to being here to annualise strategy partners,” Rothchild said. “At the [P.C. Richard & Son] meeting, 20 experts from Newsday came to the kick-off meeting — digital solutions, data, audience. We were able to really get together and discuss who it is that they are trying to reach and what they’re trying to accomplish.”

While Rothchild couldn’t get into the specifics, this collaboration made last year’s fourth quarter a lot better for both brands: “My team has been really inspired by this. When we partner together, the results can really work.” 

New Zealand’s Stuff faced a familiar industry challenge: Innovating its way out of print declines. The news media company reaches 3.4 million New Zealanders monthly with 48 printed newspapers and its digital offerings, bringing in NZ$195.5 million annually.

It needed a new approach to customer acquisition, so staff turned to data and analytics to focus in on conversion ratios. One part of that was creating a cost-effective e-commerce platform to engage and sell directly to new customers. 

In the past two years, Stuff has grown new revenue streams from scratch through buying, building, and collaborating.

“We did a review of our direct sales business and identified a number of failings,” said Steven A. Hutton, media sales director/head of new business at Stuff. “We had print and digital sales combined teams, and 80% of our staff was in traditional print sales. They were spending 70% of their time trying to sell digital, which represented 10% of our revenues. We’d actually made friends with the fact that we were on the decline. You just don’t have that in a start-up mentality. 

“We had 1,000 digital products that basically did the same thing. We had 1,000 digital problems. Here’s a new problem, please try this, and we’d add a new coat of paint. That’s bad. Our direct digital sales model began to fail. We needed a new game plan, which had four parts: quality social leads, securing an appointment, pursue and win, activate and manage.”

Steven A. Hutton, media sales director/head of new business at Stuff, explains the company's new sales funnel.
Steven A. Hutton, media sales director/head of new business at Stuff, explains the company's new sales funnel.

Stuff hired a third party to do its data and analytics. Then a new sales funnel — turning strangers into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers to promoters — took over. 

“We didn’t have to sell these people on why they should buy digital,” Hutton said. “We just had to sell them on why they should buy us.” 

  • Strangers to prospects: This offering, the Local Deals Carousel, was mobile-only featuring highly visual, non-intrusive native display ads. 
  • Prospects to customers: The Popshop offering was a cost-effective e-commerce platform designed to engage and sell directly to new customers. Stuff built and managed the platform.
  • Customers to promoters: Neighbourly (a popular neighbourhood chat platform like NextDoor in the United States) includes sponsored and featured posts that connect local businesses to neighbours. 

The sales department increased new business appointments from about three per week to 15-18. About 20% of clients made purchases during these meetings, but long-term revenue-building conversations happened even when immediate purchases weren’t made. 

“Over three months with four sales people, we generated NZ$1 million in new revenue, got 220 new customers, and increased our value 360%. Our percent of digital revenue doubled from 18% to 40%. We’ve offset print decline in digital growth for the first time. That’s unheard of. Now we’re going to roll this out nationally.” 

Amedia is made up of 100+ local newspapers, 2 million daily users, and has a 55% reach in Norway. The news brand wanted to share more about this audience with its advertisers.

“Most of our online articles are behind a paywall,” said Regine Garfjeld Sandberg, senior analyst at Amedia. “And lots of ads irritate our readers.” 

Regine Garfjeld Sandberg, senior analyst at Amedia, said her team helped advertisers better target audiences.
Regine Garfjeld Sandberg, senior analyst at Amedia, said her team helped advertisers better target audiences.

A better match with ads to audience helps all involved, which is why Amedia wanted to give its advertisers better insight into target audiences. 

“When you subscribe to one of our papers, we ask for a mobile phone numbers. This is the only information we need to cross-reference this phone number with public registries and other sources of data. We can pinpoint each user regarding the home, children, car, income, political party, education. We can even pinpoint the colour of their car.”

Amedia staff offers advertisers a Campaign Report. 

“You can see how your campaign performed with women, various age groups, etc.,” Garfjeld Sandberg said. “You can see how it did with home owners, people with children, various income groups. Maybe one didn’t generate any clicks, and you really need to work on this. It’s in our best interest that our advertisers create ads that our readers love to read and engage with.”