Skip to content

How Kölner Stadtanzeiger Medien turns 200 print-only advertisers per month into digital buyers without overhead for campaign management

Smart Ads Kölner Stadtanzeiger KSTA

This article appeared first on


When Kölner Stadtanzeiger Medien did their annual analysis how the digital spend of their regional advertisers developed over time, they realized that the digital transformation had been very successful for larger accounts and local key accounts. But lots of loyal small-and-medium-sized business (SMB) print customers still did not book relevant online budgets – despite lots of digital offerings at very different prices and even low entry points.


After various customer interviews it became clear that – despite all digital offerings already made – for those customers online advertising …

  • … was still too complex (too many formats, targetings, pricings, KPIs, etc.)
  • required great banners and landing pages that they just often do not have and often do not have the time to take care of
  • … and its KPIs was not inherently relevant to them as brick & mortar advertisers need attention on their offers and not clicks on their website


Hence, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Medien was looking for a solution to …

  • build great banners and landing pages for their longtail advertisers at scale
  • evangelise their existing sales reps to finally offer intuitive online products but in a very efficient manner as a 100€ digital campaign needs to be sold in 5 minutes or less
  • increase their CPM on the page with higher priced local campaigns compared to lower national CPMs or programmatic campaigns
  • scale local display ad sales significantly and make more profitable ad revenues


Their invention then was „Smart Ads“ as the simplest and most intuitive entry product for local advertisers to digitalthat still do print ads.


With “Smart Ads”, the goal of Kölner Stadtanzeiger Medien was to fix …

  • the banner and landing page creation process
  • the reader acceptance issues with – so far – low-quality local digital ads done by small agencies, the advertisers themselves in “Paint” or other suboptimal quick-fixes
  • the bad sales narrative of selling “website visitors” and “CTR” to brick-and-mortar advertisers


Hence, with “Smart Ads” they aimed to build the ideal digital bundle with every print ad.


Print advertisers that never booked digital before needed to suddenly start booking digital display ads at scale: 100s of new ads per month. With Smartico as a partner, Kölner Stadtanzeiger Medien started to send every print PDF of a print ad to an FTP, from where Smartico built banners + landing pages within 24h – based on AI and humans – including all data from the print ad, as well as additional information from homepage, social media profile or Google Places entry of the local advertiser. Without the advertiser or sales rep having to deliver any additional information.


Print sales reps could now offer the product to each and every small advertiser as it does not required any additional efforts on their side (no briefing beyond the print ad, all extracting of data, crawling of more information and building of ads is done by technology and an external media designer team at Smartico). Thanks to the built-in landing pages, Kölner Stadtanzeiger Medien could start reporting “time spent on the landing page” back to advertisers instead of “CTR”. A metric that was much more intuitive and valuable for local advertisers with little or no experience in digital advertising.


All other results for the other stake holder were immediately promising, too:

  • Readers are accepting the new ads as “local reading stuff” which shows in higher click rates than national campaigns. CTRs of 0,5% and above show great value to local readers.
  • Campaign Management embraces the solution as CPMs of the “bundles” (e.g. 69€ for a fixed amount of ad impression plus banner and landing page) is higher than via e.g. programmatic and all local campaigns are automatically booked into the ad server. In average the CPM for „Smart Ads“ reached >13€.
  • Sustainability and Long term growth: More revenue does not only come from better upselling rates from existing print customers to “Smart Ads” (already so high that more and more combined as a default “auto-bundle”) but also “Smart Ads” customers start converting into digital-only products at far higher price points (gateway drug to digital)



In 2022, the solution „Smart Ads“ of Kölner Stadtanzeiger Medien together with Smartico was awarded with a nomination for INMA’s Global News Media Awards.


More Insights? Subscribe To Our Newsletter


We look forward to talking with you. We can be reached via email, phone and social media and look forward to connecting with you.


Smartico GmbH
Attilastr. 16,
D-12529 Schönefeld
registered in Cottbus with HRB 15640 CB
MD: Christian Scherbel, Simon Kriener

Smart Ads International OOD
53-55 Blvd Gen. Totleben,
BG-1606 Sofia
registered in Sofia with UIC 205388683
MD: Nikolay Lazarov, Christian Scherbel


In Smartico´s blog and newsletter we inform you about the latest trends in local and regional advertising. We present best practices from over 200 publishers, and share ideas, inspiration and recipes for success on which advertising concepts can be used convincingly and profitably for you and your SME advertisers.