April 6, 2010 Last Updated 1:07 pm

McClatchy partners with WebVisible to roll out online marketing services nationally to its 30 newspapers

McClatchy announced today that it would be rolling out online marketing services throughout its chain to assist local merchants with online advertising. The services will be offered through WebVisible, a company that McClatchy has worked with in Kansas City, Mo., Tacoma, Wash., and Fresno, Calif.
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A press release claims that the newspaper company has been able to grow online advertising significantly in the test markets and now plan to add a market a month, with Anchorage, Alaksa and Charlotte, N.C. markets recently added, with Boise, Idaho, Miami, Fla., and Sacramento, Calif. to follow.

“Online marketing is more than just showing up in search engine results, and McClatchy understands that its advertisers want a full solution that gives them visibility across the board,” said Kirsten Mangers, CEO of WebVisible. “McClatchy has always been a forward-thinking partner for local advertisers, helping them grow their businesses by making sure they can be found where customers are looking. Expanding our relationship with McClatchy is tremendously exciting to us, as we trust that it will be for their local merchants.”

Here is a video which explains WebVisible’s services:

I remember the amount of spec ads and other services we used to offer our customers in order to secure business back at the first paper I worked for, Hearst’s daily in L.A. At a meeting I had a couple of years ago I suggested that our company needed to embrace this rather old school approach to securing advertising — creating spec ads for web and e-mail advertising. This was in recognition of the fact that most of our customers were not advertising online, but had a desire to start. They no longer were resisting online advertising out of ignorance, but out of a fear that it would simply cost more and that their lack of experience in this area would show up in their efforts.

What they didn’t want to do was pay for hiring an outside agency just for web. Many of these clients did not employ ad agencies at all as they were marketing within very defined markets. Many only created new prints ads once a year (at most), and rarely ventured outside their comfort zones. But they would sometimes experiment with web advertising when called by a company such as Multiview — a company that specializes in creating online directories for trade associations.

Because of this, Vance Publishing last year created an online marketing division specifically to fill the void they saw. “We all know that in a recession, companies cut back on their marketing spend, but in this economy, companies also realize that they need to invest in the digital world for the future,” said Tom Denison, then the vice president of the new Vance Marketing Solutions division.

In this case, rather than handle this internally, McClatchy has brought in a company to do what newspapers used to consider standard practice: assisting advertisers create their ad campaigns. At the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, I would estimate that between the reps and the art department, we would create nearly 90% of all ads that appeared in the newspaper that were sold in the retail or classified departments. Only the major accounts or national advertising departments could expect that their advertisers would deliver camera-ready copy.

So, in the end, bringing outside help to offer web services is probably a very good idea. I can’t help but marvel, however, how many third party companies are finding ways to make money off of newspaper and magazine companies by providing services one would consider basic: ad creation, electronic publishing solutions. No wonder then that many of these companies are beginning to decide to get into the content game. After all, they are already providing many of the services that would identify a company as media.

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