It is almost impossible to find an article, news report or analysis in the past five years that does not forecast doom and gloom for the newspaper industry. Few would argue that the newspaper industry is in crisis, with falling circulation, repeated rounds of layoffs, fleeing advertisers and a chain of bad earning reports . Analysts attribute the downfall to multiple factors, but consensus is that the dominance of the Internet has shaken the newspaper industry to the point that many believe its future looks grim.
But despite what one reads in the media about the “death of the newspaper”, NewspaperDirect believes the foundation of this industry is still sound. Why??? Well, first, whether in print or online, consumers place a high value on original content. Even in today’s social media explosion with pervasive user-generated content, we are constantly reminded that “original content is king.” We witness this daily, when a seemingly unknown blogger can have his/her blog rise to the top among millions of others simply by bringing “newsworthy content” to the attention of their audience.
The great beneficiaries of the new Internet are the creators of “original content.” And so by the virtue of having a professional news room, publishers are in an excellent position to continue to create unique and original content that will continue to attract readers. This premise that content creators are key to a publisher’s success on the Internet is supported by the fact that newspaper website traffic is growing 3 times faster than other Internet site traffic .
A second very important factor is that newspapers have a strong presence in local markets. In fact, “local” is the unique value proposition for newspapers, which play a critical role in the metropolitan economy where consumers spend 80% of their income
But what is very interesting is that the penetration of Internet advertising into local markets is only about 3.8 percent — surprisingly low.
Only a few years ago, it was assumed that small companies were just not aware of all the benefits of Internet advertising, but this assumption has been proven incorrect. People have been using the Internet for many years and the usage of the Internet for performing day-to-day tasks and transactions is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. However, local business owners are still unwilling to spend money to promote their local businesses online. What is holding them back?
NewspaperDirect sees two key factors that limit the success of promoting small businesses online.
The first is global competition. When business owners attempt to advertise online they are not only exposed to a global audience, they are also confronted by global competition. And since most customers find businesses through the first page of results from an online search, only the 10 top results really matter. What chance does a local car dealership have to compete successfully with www.cars.com or other professionally designed websites that address the needs of the same target audience? How does a local “brick and mortar” insurance or mortgage broker compete with global corporations who can “look local” by playing the Internet game and offer their products and services online in any city?
If one were to assume that local small businesses can be successful on the Internet promoting their services, then you would have to assume that thousands of other local small businesses are just as successful, which brings us back to the problem of being a needle in a haystack: How do small local businesses all capture the attention of their local audiences in an overcrowded medium?
Today Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising is prominent on the Internet, where small businesses can buy traffic to their sites from Google, Yahoo and, more recently, Microsoft. CPC does bring its fair share of people to their websites, but herein lies the second factor that limits the success of promoting small businesses online – low conversion rates. In order to convert anonymous traffic that CPC buys them, businesses need a very sophisticated website, which uses modern technology with lots of graphics, Ajax and dynamic HTML. These technologies help make the customer experience very innovative, comfortable and compelling which is necessary to make consumers willing to transact online. But most small businesses cannot afford to invest in the creation and ongoing maintenance of these sophisticated websites that exploit Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). So they are stuck… yes, they can buy CPC traffic, but they are more likely to attract global traffic they don’t want, and then struggle to convert any local traffic they might receive into a sale or other transaction. Given this, it is no wonder that small businesses are typically not successful competing on the Internet. And although many have their own websites, they do not consider them serious lead generators.
So despite the wealth of technology available to them, local small businesses have had little choice but to settle for advertising the traditional way – yellow pages, newspapers, radio, direct mail, flyers, billboard advertising and inserts into newspapers. Until now…
Enter the Adget…
NewspaperDirect has created a new version of a micro site/advertising widget for newspaper advertisers, which we have coined Adget. The concept behind Adget is an environment where customers can transact within their current context (i.e. while they are reading their local online newspaper). Rather than clicking through to a dedicated website of a service provider or shop, readers can now interact with a small business’ micro site which has been embedded in the newspaper content.
Adget is similar to the eBay mini-site, where product sellers have opted in to a sub-page on eBay to maximize their sales potential. However, for 85 percent of businesses (i.e. service providers), there is no eBay equivalent — until now. With Adget, newspapers can leverage their local presence and garner the attention of their local audience, while advertisers can better engage and interact with prospects while they read their local paper.
Here’s how it works…
When a reader opens a page of a newspaper they will see an advertisement for a service (e.g. furniture store), with an embedded video, audio file or graphic, that promotes new products or special offers. Within the ad, there are buttons or links which the reader can click to transact – e.g. in the case of a furniture store, order a printed catalogue. And because the reader is already registered with the newspaper, with just that one click, a catalogue order form will be displayed that already includes their personal information, which they can edit if they choose.
One more click, and the catalogue is on its way to their home mailing address. Everything happens within the newspaper. The customer does not have to exit the page they were reading to connect to the store’s website. It’s simple, fast and completely secure.
Consider a local restaurant looking to announce its grand opening. Within an Adget based ad, the restaurant could present videos of the dishes being served, testimonials of other patrons and daily specials. With one click, a reader could make a reservation and have a confirmation sent to their email or phone via SMS. The same is true for booking a test drive with a car dealership or an appointment with a dentist.
With NewspaperDirect’s Adget…readers have complete control over what kind of information is being shared with advertisers, if any. It is entirely permission-based and provides unparalleled convenience to the consumer.
Adget offers different design templates and a library of transactions to businesses, depending on the type of lead the business is looking to receive, such as booking an appointment, requesting more information, downloading a coupon, buying a product, subscribing to a magazine, donating to a charity, etc. without ever leaving the newspaper.
Deep integration with a business’ website is not required, although it is easy to link to its website from within the Adget micro site.
Adgets are a fast and easy way for advertisers to provide a “rich media” and “easy to transact” experience for prospects. For customers, it is a convenient and secure way to interact with vendors to which they choose to do business. With Adget, customers don’t need to learn different interfaces on different websites. It’s very YouTube-like since viewers can just watch a video and then click to transact. They can even share links to Adgets/micro sites with their friends. Adgets work for all sizes of businesses, from a local hairdresser to a bank or even a large supermarket.
Another unique feature of Adget is its subscription capability. With Adget, readers can subscribe from within the newspaper for special offers from different types of businesses. For example, if a customer’s car lease is about to expire, they could subscribe for special car deals or financing options through their newspaper. The publisher could easily present to local car dealerships an aggregated view of what customers are looking for, which provides dealerships with opportunities for very targeted exposure to highly qualified buyers. For customers, the search for the car that meets their needs is greatly simplified and once they have found the car they want, they can unsubscribe from all offers, ensuring that they are not pestered by ongoing unwanted solicitations.
The Adget model provides a much higher “value for the buck” than today’s common CPC or banner advertising models. Whereas the average CPC on the Internet is worth about 20-50 cents, an Adget transaction (e.g. making a dentist appointment) can be worth hundreds of dollars. This gives publishers a much greater opportunity to capitalize on more sophisticated transactions by pricing them much higher. Advertisers are willing to pay more because they receive a much higher return on their advertising investment.
With Adget, the future is very bright for newspapers – giving publishers advertising they can easily sell, and businesses, effective, high value advertising that is easy to buy, with flexible pricing options, including auctioning for CPA.
The Future is Now
NewspaperDirect is enhancing its SmartEdition platform and promoting Adget as the new industry standard for Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) advertising. Newspapers that adopt the Adget model will be able to capitalize on their growing website traffic by generating substantial revenue per transaction in a more efficient, reader-driven, Web 2.0 way.
With NewspaperDirect’s Adget, publishers will be able safely migrate from print to online with confidence in their future, and enjoy an advertising solution that is easy to sell and yields higher ad revenues. Combined with a healthy, growing online readership, this new business model will ensure a bright and profitable future for newspapers.
Some examples of Adgets follow. Just click on the flashing camera icon in the advertisements on these pages and see how it works.
28 Aug 2007
28 Aug 2007