April 12, 2017 Last Updated 10:55 am

Question: Do today’s newspapers have the ad expertise to compete, build new ad revenue?

Many newspaper have moved toward reader revenue models, but opportunities appear to exist to build advertising through experimentation, some imagination, and with very little risk

The headline is not meant to be rhetorical, or an example of Betteridge’s law of headlines (end a headline with a question mark and the answer invariably is ‘No’). I really am asking.

I’ve been out of the newspaper business, at least as an employee of a newspaper company, for a while now. While in it at Hearst or Copley or Lesher, newspapers were where the best ad people worked – or, at least, we thought so. Newspaper ad execs looked down at TV station sellers as merely some form of loan sharks, not as the real deal. Our conferences were well attended, sometimes informative, always entertaining (alcohol will do that).

Today, I look at the ad market and I see real opportunities for newspapers, not the doom and gloom others see. For instance, the employment rate is falling, that is always good for recruitment. You need plenty of open jobs, and real competition for employees, to build recruitment. Newspapers have lost almost all, if not all, of their recruitment advertising. That’s bad, right? Well, it was when it was leaving, but (and maybe I am being a contrarian again) but I see this as good news.

First, no one is worrying about having to beat last year’s numbers, they were terrible. So this creates an opportunity for growth. Remember, if you sell 100 of something one year, and 101 of the same thing the next, your growth rate is 1%. But if you sell only 1 of something one year, then 2 of something the next… voila, 100% growth!

Second, it is time to experiment with new models. The one I always like is free. If you zero of something then giving it away takes no revenue away from you. Why not give free recruitment ads to every local advertiser you have?

In other words, do something, anything, to get new business.

But, now I go back to the original question, do newspaper have people of imagination in advertising these days?

If you are hearing of good things being done at your newspaper or magazine, reach out, I’d love to hear the stories.

Comments are closed.