The 10% Solution: How to charge a premium for online ads (and get it)!

03 Nov The 10% Solution: How to charge a premium for online ads (and get it)!

10percentIf you follow the bloggers, pundits and assorted experts who write about the newspaper business, you have read repeatedly that the average newspaper website commands 10 cents on the dollar online advertising versus print. Some claim the number is higher, upwards of 25%. Others say the ratio is as low as 6% to 7%. No matter what you believe the right number is, the news is not good for newspapers trying to make the transition from print to online, which is to say all newspapers.

Last summer Linda Pierre, online ad manager at the 90,000-circulation Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida needed new revenue to make her goal and grow her online business. She also desperately needed a way to get more than the 10 cents on a dollar for online advertising that newspaper websites normally can command.

In short: She needed a game-changer.

Pierre knew that many people choose Daytona as a destination for their weddings. In fact, more than 3,300 weddings are held annually in the area. She also knew that these brides, grooms and their families spend a ton of money on the event. The average wedding in Daytona Beach costs $26,741, according to The Wedding Report, the wedding market-research company. That makes bridal an $89,181,235 market in Daytona, a market the newspaper was barely tapping for ad dollars.

Like most newspapers The News-Journal traditionally carried engagement and wedding announcements, but the number of announcements had declined in recent years. Pierre believed that using her website and harnessing the power of social media could attract more young people to the News-Journal site and generate significant ad dollars.

“The first thing a woman wants to do when she gets engaged is tell the world!” Pierre said. “It’s common today for couples to hire photographers who shoot dozens of photos for their engagement, but the newspaper only allowed one photo, usually the pretty standard head shot of the couple. That’s just not going to cut it anymore.”

So Pierre looked for a way to offer couples something more using the web. She wanted her site to feature the love stories of local people getting engaged and married with tons of photos and information. She also wanted everything to be shared via social media because she knew sharing the news among friends and family could create buzz that would boost traffic back to her site.

Her staff already was stretched to the max. She knew she couldn’t build her ideal site internally, at least not quickly and cost effectively. Instead she partnered with Content That Works to implement Brides365 in her market.

“We liked Brides365 because it gave us the ability for local brides to post great announcements with interesting stories and unlimited photos,” Pierre said. “Plus when brides start the 14-month process of planning their weddings, they want all of the information they can get their hands on. Brides365 delivers that with daily updates and news, information, galleries and videos from all over the internet.”

The $30,000 Payoff (so far)

Pierre is aware of the value of a couple planning their wedding to advertisers, she chooses to value price her ad positions rather than using cost-per-impression pricing.

“I figured that someone coming to our bridal site – who is absolutely going to spend an average of $26,741 or she wouldn’t be therein the first place – was worth much more to an advertiser than someone landing on our home page who may or may not buy anything,” Pierre said. “So we offered category exclusive advertising position at a premium price.”

Pierre charges $499 a month for 300-pixel ads on the right rail and $999 a month for the leaderboard on her Brides365 site. These ads include a premium listing in the bridal resource vendor directory and a 2-by-3-inch, full-color print ad in the paper.

Within a few weeks she booked $30,000 in annual revenue for the site — all of it brand-new revenue. Her goal for the first 12 months is nearly $100,000, all from a category that had long been neglected by the News-Journal.

Not only has the News-Journal found a way to generate new revenue at a full price but also a way to bring younger readers to their site. The paper is intercepting these newlyweds and soon-to-be newlyweds at a formative time and becoming an integral part of their lives. The announcements get shared on Facebook and Twitter, driving friends and family to the site to see the photos and read the news.

Newspapers often wonder why their once-a-year bridal section is withering. In part, the answer is that weddings happen every day of the week, every month of the year. They are no longer a June phenomenon. One in six couples actually meet online! Your website, coupled with the power of social media can help you tap into the potential in your market.

Weddings are a $65 billion industry nationwide. On average, a single business will spend $3,772 on advertising, totaling $1.91 billion in advertising spending per year. The average business serving the wedding market has gross wedding sales of $142,047.

At a time when newspapers need every dollar of advertising they can get; when they need online products that command premium prices; when they need to reach out to new younger people in the community, making bridal work online and in print simply makes sense.