My Local Paper Proves Once Again, Old Media Doesn’t Get It

Feb 18 2010

It’s that time of year where our company sits down and comes up with an advertising plan for the upcoming year.  We use a combination of direct mailing, email newsletter, TV ads, Newspaper ads, Adwords, and had recently decided to try and use the online version/website of the local paper.

I know it, they won’t admit it, but the paper readership is dwindling.  It’s not that their hunger for local news has faded but rather the location that they want to received it. More and more people are wanting their news online. With that in mind we set up a meeting with the local paper to discuss an online campaign.  The campaigns I’m running are really only campaigns to gather email addresses of people that willingly sign up for our newsletter and like our store and products, in general gardeners.  That will let me contact them directly at later dates rather than having to pay someone else.

So we get the rates.  Unbelievably they want $22 per thousand impressions on a 728 X 120 header banner or $16 for a 300 X 250.   Now our local community has a population of about 100,000 and the local website for the newspaper gets a very respectable 2.5 million pageviews per month.  When I started doing the math I figured out that it would cost me $55,000 A MONTH to have the header banner and $40,000 for the 300X250.  I congratulated the salesperson right then and there and let him know that he officially had eclipsed the advertising rates of almost every website on the net. Even TechCrunch hasn’t eclipsed those numbers.

Old_media-Doesn't_Get_ItAfter a few laughs (all came from me) he said he would get back to me with better rates as he realized they might be a little high.  I reminded him that there was a reason that every ad on the site was from a sister company of the paper ie the local radio station, contests they were running, and local magazines.  Two hours later he gets back to me and lets me now they can cut it in half.  So ONLY $27,000 for the month.  I told them I could start a new online local paper for that price.  To translate this I can get two commercials on the top rated morning news PLUS one primetime ad every day PLUS an Ad on the ten o’clock news every single day and have 5-8K left over.  So here’s what I did instead, I found the other local hub,  it’s the local TV station that set up a nice news website and bought access to their email list of 10,000 local people.  I will be sending them each an invitation to sign up for our newsletter in exchange for free plants and this costs less than what it would cost for 1 day advertising at the paper

I asked our local paper if they had something similar.  They don’t even have an email list, they twitter.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Belmassio

    The writing is on the wall…..guys like you are going to come in and eat their lunch.

    I’d say this might be the biggest, most obvious business oportunity on the Net today as it stands. These guys simply hate to change the way they do biz……and many have been doing it the same way for several decades.

    If people think the big newspapers are slow to change, just try small town newspapers….LOL.

  2. dcmike77


    i work for the LA Times. Our rates are only slightly lower than that, but the issue is that we sell out of alot of our popular online sections – such as entertainment and travel – and thus we can justify those higher rates. However, if you’re seeing house ads throughout the site, then their rates should come down considerably. I may also ask about CPC instead of CPM, but changing that sales model is more difficult than you think, especially for larger, more established companies.


    1. Post author


      I really appreciate the response and glad someone from the other side responded. I have a 0% chance of CPC but these are house ads and this is a local paper with 2.5 million impressions per month and a average stay time of just over a minute (pretty poor). These are certainly “house ads” and I may negotiate a deal that give us the ad until the can sell it for more. They may actually agree to that. Again, thanks for the comment

  3. dcmike77

    email is a very effective medium especially if you’re using it to promote an online product. The same can be said for online banners as your consumer is already online. this is a much larger challenge if you go the TV route, which is largely a branding medium, as it requires consumers to break from their activity and then go online. there are also much heavier production costs for a spot.

    all these reasons, plus the ones I noted earlier, add up to the $22 CPMs you’re seeing. you can try and get lower, but otherwise I’d stick with the email, link sharing, and facebook/viral efforts.

    best of luck.

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