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What makes successful offers for SMBs

What makes successful offers for SMBs

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While in print, SMB advertisers are a very relevant source of revenue but also relevant content for readers who actively demand local print ads online; most of those advertisers don’t happen online.

Comparing the structure of “digital advertisers” versus “print advertisers” on major regional news portals, it quickly becomes evident that national advertising for digital is ahead of digital local ads in most news organisations.

But why is that happening, and what do publishers differently who manage to capture a large portion of regional ad budgets and manage to transfer a decent share of local print advertisers to digital? We looked at over 100 offerings from Europe to find the “secret sauce” that makes a few offers take off and others not.

We found 4 main drivers that make local advertising scale for publishers.

1. Simplicity

Let’s face it, most local advertisers are just overwhelmed by the complexity of digital advertising. And same goes for a lot of local print sales reps that still keep the relation to those clients. 100s of formats, CPCs, CPMs, CPAs, Frequency cappings, targeting options and retargeting, targeting pixels, cookies, remarketing, etc. might be great for national champions and regional key accounts but probably not for a restaurant or a car dealer whose primary purpose is not getting more traffic on the website but to get more people in the store.

And let’s face it, most regional publishers did not do enough to make booking online ads fundamentally more understandable for those customers but just downsized the number of ad impressions compared to large key accounts. Local advertisers still have tons of options for a 20.000 ad impression campaign. Which then, of course, creates a lot of overhead in campaign management (see next point on efficiency).Confusing amount of options with many publishers to book a simple online ad

But what worked?

Fewer options. One simple bundle as yes/no to every print ad instead of a new sales process. One bundle with banner & landing page creation with one fixed set of ad impressions in the exact regional targeting that this advertiser already booked in print.

If that simple model for ~100$ doesn’t offer enough, then we can still upsell to packages >500$ but not for the smallest clients. Learning here: Most local clients want a simple bundle that works and already incorporates the most important “best practices” of a digital ad: creative, a decent number of ad impressions, good targeting, and local success.

2. Efficiency

Many local print sales organisations are not best friends with the national online campaign management in their company. But why is it?

They are bringing far too little revenue for far too much complexity. Selling every local advertiser with just a few thousand ad impressions different targeting and format options will potentially increase the revenue per customer. Still, it will immediately be lost in operational overhead to get all those different types of campaigns booked and served.

Successful publishers instead went back to a straightforward bundle with one ad format, one clear positioning (ideally including the local homepages – not the main homepage), one targeting, etc. that could be pre-booked in the ad server and replicated in the ad server as a template without additional manual work. One of the many options was tag-in-tag campaigns where only one campaign for “Local Ads in Region 1” was booked in the ad server. Suppliers like Smartico make sure that within this 1 campaign, the relevant local advertisers are served at the right time and place.

3. Intuitiveness

For most local advertisers – we learned – it is not intuitive to get the print ad creation as part of the sales process (paid and unpaid), but in digital, they are on their own creating banners and landing pages that convert.

The same goes for communicating a gross reach in print versus net reach online and pure cryptic clicks and click rates online. This does not feel like one product that captures regional reach for regional advertisers, but like two separate worlds where in print “attention” is sold while online, it is just “clicks” (see also 4th point).

A few tactics that made it much more intuitive for local advertisers at the publishers we looked at included making the currency and billing as close to print as necessary but the design and ad serving as digital as possible.

What worked very well for a lot of publishers was to form bundles of banner creation and 1 fixed price for banner, landing page and regionally targeted impressions at exclusive spots on the news portal. The price of those bundles then depended on the size of the print ad. Larger advertisers need more attention (ad impressions) than smaller print advertisers. Ideally, there’s always only one pair of print ad size and an online equivalent. And there needs to be something special for the advertiser who likes to see their print ad and show it to friends and customers online. One additional spot on the regional pages where the ad is shown in a banderole and can be found by clicking through the banderole instead of hitting “reload” for 100 times to see their ad, and most of the times quite disappointed.

Company (“Unternehmen”) banderole with all local advertisers of a specific region with one regional publisher from Germany who successfully scaled local ads from the existing print advertiser base to 500 per month

4. Communication

Our learning: Don’t communicate clicks – or even worse, click rates (CTR). Local advertisers don’t understand them. Local sales reps can’t explain them with enough context. And even if it becomes a long discussion why e.g. 0,5% click rates are far above average and good when the local advertiser only hears that 99,5% of users didn’t click.

Local print advertisers need attention for their offerings, and successful publishers translate that to digital. And “click” is not attention as we see in local campaigns on Facebook and others where bounce rates are through the roof when buying cheap clicks. But attention is time spent on the offering – like on the landing page. Slider interaction when using carousel ads. Scroll depth and button clicks on landing pages. And more.

Changing the sales narrative from clicks to trackable attention metrics unlocks potential with advertisers, especially with local sales reps, to love to have an excellent story online that is not clicks because clicks on Facebook and Google will always be cheaper. The local newspaper is about quality and intuitive communication to prove that point.

One crucial argument is to do landing pages for local advertisers instead of losing clicks to an external page and never knowing what is happening there, even worse, discussing why the local advertiser needs a relaunch. Vendors like Smartico offer full-service packages on a “per ad” basis to create that banner plus landing page bundles without briefings from web research and print ad templates at scale, in the budget, in quality and in time.

Print advertisers need different KPIs to be reported than CTR. Attention on the landing page in terms of “minutes spent” is a great example of that


I am happy to share more details about business cases, publisher names & contacts, supplier names, sales materials, links to creatives, etc. 


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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.