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Gannett Deploys Blinder Group to Assist the Newspaper Ad Reps in Marketing Traditional Online Banner Ads to Local Advertisers

Selling banner ads has been a mainstay of the online revenue arena since the beginning of Internet time. And while advertising on newspaper websites continues to grow (it rose 23 percent during Q3 2006), many newspapers are beginning to re-think their banner ad sales strategies and focus on new trends such as local online video and search engine maximization. Does this mean that newspaper banner ad sales are becoming an obsolete way to generate new revenue? "Revenue portfolios should always be diverse," states Mike Blinder president of The Blinder Group. "Even when it comes to online offerings, newspapers should continue to have enough of a selection of advertising opportunities on their site to attract different types of advertisers. Banner ads are not obsolete – in fact, when positioned correctly on the site and packaged correctly, banner ad sales can be some of the easiest ways for traditional sales reps to generate new money."

The Blinder Group is well known internationally for an in-market sales training technique that helps change traditional, single-media focused newspaper sales reps into multimedia "street fighting sales warriors." "Our job is to shift the internal 'culture' of the sales reps in order for them to embrace the benefits of offering online products to their advertisers. An effective multimedia offering-that often includes a basic banner or skyscraper ad position – can be a big asset to increasing revenue as well as the newspaper's total local 'market share' of overall advertising dollars," stated Blinder.

The most innovative multimedia campaigns usually include a large "in story" or skyscraper ad since these larger, online ad positions offer more space within the ad, so the message can incorporate a weekly changing offer, or marketing message, along with a "call to action" that motivates the reader to respond without having to "click" the ad. Advertisers purchase "in story" online ad positions that appear within the home page and story pages of the newspaper's website. "We have studied the results of thousands of online ad campaigns that we have assisted in taking to markets large and small, worldwide," stated Mike Blinder. "The results are clear: The average online banner lives about 7 to 9 days on a website before the reader no longer sees it. Stagnant banners fail. They must change at least twice each month in order to optimize the results for the advertiser. Also, requiring the 'click' for response cuts way back its effectiveness. Banners are like billboards. You need to 'sell' the message succinctly and effectively. Or, as I like to preach during my speaking tour, when it comes to banners:

  • Less is more.
  • White space is good!
  • If it goes stale - it will fail!"

    When these large banner programs are packaged for advertisers, the option is also offered for the online ad to link to a Web version of the advertiser's print ad (or a single "profile" page about the advertiser). This way, an advertiser who is not happy about the design or content of their website can still feel compelled to participate in the program.

    "Seven out of ten advertisers we call on while in local markets do not like their website," said Blinder. "Actually, they usually say their site is in 're-development.' Meaning they are re-thinking their online strategy. We need to be able to offer them an alternative for the 'click' in either an online version of a print ad or 'jump page' in order to close the sale."

    The program is usually offered on a limited basis to a select number of advertisers-giving them optimum impressions and allowing newspapers to charge a hefty CPM for the program. Full-year commitments are usually required. However, not all the available ad impressions from an online ad position are usually offered with this program; thus leaving some online inventory available for "short term" sales as well.

    The Blinder Group not only assists with the development of such programs, but works beside the sales teams to introduce the concept to advertisers and close business. It is this "in the car" sales training method that has resulted in high "closing ratios" with long advertiser retention in hundreds of client markets worldwide.

    The Gannett Company has now deployed this program in various newspaper markets as a method to garner new online revenue and get the traditional ad reps more excited about selling online products to their advertisers. "We had a big success with the program generating new online revenue from a number of new advertisers," said Ed Gunderson, Retail Manager for the Burlington (VT) Free Press. "Working with the Blinder Group was a real help as well in getting our reps to focus and get excited about the program."

    Here are just a "handful" of the Gannett Company newspapers who have successfully deployed a simple web-based banner campaign assisting in generating significant new online revenue:

    Burlington (VT) Free Press (approximate circulation: 116k)
    Contact: Ed Gunderson, Retail Manager
    (802) 660-1831, egunderson@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com


    Click on image to view larger version

    The actual ad size deployed with this program is a large "1/2-page next to story ad" used to give pertinent, actionable information to the reader. In the example shown, the online ad is linked to the advertiser's current print ad. When the print ad offerings change, so do the graphics online. This keeps the online ad fresh and current. Each of 20 limited advertisers was offered 65,000 monthly impressions for a fee of $149/week, with a full year's commitment required. The Blinder Group helped this team sell out this program within days of launching it with advertisers. The example here shows a local furniture store offering changing deals and specials within the online ad position. When readers "click" the online ad, they are taken to a Web version on the advertiser's current print ad.

  • Download the actual sales materials developed by the Blinder Group, that assisted this client in successfully taking this multimedia program to market here.


    Cherry Hill (NJ) Courier-Post (approximate circulation: 200k)
    Contact: Clark Perks, Online Sales Manager
    856 486 2956, cperks@camden.gannett.com


    Click on image to view larger version

    The in-story ads contain compelling information that gets the reader's attention and allows them to act without having to "click thru." Ads are usually linked to specific pages of the advertiser's website where readers can get additional information regarding the promotion immediately-price quote for a car, coupon for a contractor, etc; or to an online version of the advertiser's current print ad, placed within their "Shop Local" online marketplace. Each of the 30 limited advertisers was offered 100,000 monthly impressions for a fee of $199/week, with a full year's commitment required.

    The Blinder Group assisted the traditional ad reps with taking this to market to local advertisers, closing more than 50 percent of the qualified "decision makers" during the initial sales call. The example here shows a local flooring business, offering changing deals and specials within the online ad position. When readers "click" the online ad, they are taken to an advertiser managed Web page.

  • Download the actual sales materials developed by the Blinder Group, that assisted this client in successfully taking this multimedia program to market here.


    Asbury Park (NJ) Press (approximate circulation: 161k)
    Contact: Kevin Stetter, Online Sales Manager
    732 643 3730, kstetter@app.com


    Click on image to view larger version

    This example shows how in-story ads allow advertisers to connect with the interests of the readers. By being in the sports section, this residential development is able to promote their onsite fitness center and "roof deck and pool". As with other in-story ads, all relevant contact information is included online with no need for a click-thru. For those that do click, the ad is linked to the advertiser's website. Each of the 25 limited advertisers was offered 100,000 monthly impressions for a fee of $199/week, with a full year's commitment required. The Blinder Group assisted the traditional ad reps with taking this to market to local advertisers, closing all of the ad positions available resulting in hundreds of thousands of new online revenue for the newspaper. The example here shows a local furniture store, offering changing deals and specials within the online ad position. When readers "click" the online ad, they are taken to the advertiser's Web site.

  • Download the actual sales materials developed by the Blinder Group, that assisted this client in successfully taking this multimedia program to market here.


    The Blinder Group
    Tampa Offices: 6139 Fjord Way
    New Port Richey, FL 34652 USA
    (727) 847-2464 ~ (727) 847-5959 (fax)
    profit@blindergroup.com

    SPEAKING PROGRAMS, seminars and workshops

    CONSULTING/TRAINING: Strategic Planning ~ Basic Sales Training
    Multimedia Sales Training ~ Assisted 4-Legged Closing Calls

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