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Panpa Bulletin : August 2006
36 | PANPA bULLETIN august 2006 At lunch the other day, a friend told me about the ad he placed in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel to rent a condominium. "I'd been thinking of plac- ing a three-line, six-day ad, and expected it to run $100 to $200," he said. Boy, was he surprised. More important, though, the Sun- Sentinel was surprised, too -- by what happened next. Instead of calling the paper's telephone room, he went to its website. "They had all these nice additions, such as bold and shadows and boxes that could be added to see it live on the web. So I kept working on it, and by the time I was done my six-day ad cost me $640," he said. "Did I run the ad at that price? Yes I did -- because it definitely stood out from the crowd, and you can't really say everything you need to in three lines anyway." Pardon me for harping on this topic, but newspapers are leaving a lot of money on the table -- and wasting a lot of staff time that could be spent more productively -- by encourag- ing people to call their phone rooms instead of placing ads online. When you call Delta Airlines to buy a plane ticket, you hear a recording: "Lower fares may be available at Delta.com" Their lowest prices are on the web, not in the phone room. If you speak to a human to buy a ticket, it'll cost you more. Two ways. Aside from paying a higher fare on the phone, there's an additional $10 surcharge for telephone bookings. Yet when Classified Intel- ligence tested newspapers' online ad sales tools, we found many of them confus- ing or lacking. They didn't tell whether the ad would appear in print, online, or both, or for how long; they didn't show you what the ad would look like in print; they didn't offer up- sells; they didn't let advertisers add photos ... well, you get the picture (or not, as the case may be). One newspaper -- get this -- told us it charges more for ads placed online because it has to pay the company that provides the web interface. "Gee", we thought, "What are they think- ing? Don't they realise they have to pay the reps in the phone room who handle the calls?" As more ads are placed on- line, newspapers find they can convert reps from inbound 'ad takers' to outbound sales reps -- making sales as opposed to taking orders. And two papers we know of report that online ad placement volume has grown to the point where each reduced the staff of its phone-room staff by two reps. Some newspapers have built their own online ad-placement tools, but most home-grown software we've seen doesn't measure up. (Some giant publishers have the informa- tion technology horsepower to design it right, but they're few and far between.) Sev- eral vendors -- AdLizard; AdStar; Creative Circle Advertising Solutions/AdQic, and Future of News/Place My Ad, among oth- ers -- provide well-designed, ef- fective online ad sales products. It costs far less to buy one than to build your own -- and those companies maintain, support and upgrade their services on a continuing basis. Even at newspapers that offered effective online ad placement, it was generally well-hidden. Most we spoke to admitted in-paper promotion was limited or non-existent; online promotion was rarely more than a 'place an ad' but- ton or line somewhere on the paper's home page. Back to my friend with the condo for rent: Did his ad work? In fact, it didn't. Was he unhappy about it? Surprisingly, not at all. "I'm not saying that it's the fault ofthead.IfIhadtorunitagain, I'd do it just the same way", he said. "I don't buy those enhance- ments from a phone rep be- cause it makes me feel like I'm being 'sold.' This way(designing his own ad online) just makes me feel creative. It took more time doing it this way ... but it was time well spent. I felt like I was creating a work of art." When was the last time one of your private-party customers told you they thought their ad looked like a work of art? In a recent report about online ad placement, we offered 17 tips for making sure your system is as good as it should be. But even before you test your app against our 17 recommenda- tions, make sure you take the basic first step and offer an effective, clear, user-friendly, what-you-see-is-what-you- get online tool for placing ads in your paper. Peter M. Zollman is founding principal of Classifed Intelligence, a consulting group that works with newspapers, dot-coms and vendors to improve classifed advertising services. the company’s report about online ad placement is available through ClassifedIntelligence.com. Zollman can be reached at +1 407 788 2780, pzollman@ classifedintelligence.co m. disclosure: Zollman is on the board of directors of adStar, one of the companies mentioned in this month’s Interactive Insider. As more ads are placed online, newspapers fnd they can convert reps from inbound ‘ad takers’ to outbound sales reps – making sales as opposed to taking orders. Online ad design gives customer satisfaction Giving advertisers the opportunity to get involved in their own selling can give newspapers more freedom says Peter Zollman Yet when Classifed Intelligence tested newspapers’ online ad sales tools, we found many of them confusing or lacking.