Author Archives: John Sullivan

The New York Times Announces its Online Fee Strategy for 2011

A recent article in The New York Times explains how they are going to begin charging for consumers to have access to their online edition in 2011.


They didn’t give pricing or delve into many specifics but they at least gave us their strategy and it sounds like a good idea and, if successful, I’m sure many other cash starved newspapers will follow their lead.

The basic plan is that you will be allowed X number of articles you can read per month for free and after you hit that number you’ll be asked to pay a fee for unlimited access.   That’s a good idea for several reasons.  One is that it should keep their online readership numbers up and online advertisers happy.  Then, over time they’ll lower and lower that number of free articles to slowly charge us more and more.  No big shock to consumers or advertisers as they control the pain.

This is a much better than their previous attempt where they charged for columns written by their best editorial writers.  All that did was keep us from reading their best articles.

The basic takeaway is that newspapers have hit bottom and are going to finally figure out ways to succeed economically and therefore remain an important part of local advertising for those of us concerned about retail advertising.  And, we have to provide dealers with tools that will help them advertise in both the print and online editions of newspapers for many years to come.  Maybe the worst is almost over for the newspaper industry.  Thank goodness.

Why Consumers Want to Be Your Friend

Marketing Sherpa recently released a survey about why consumers friend or follow companies on social sites.

The good news is that the most popular reason is the same as it is for why they go to Google.  Consumers are looking for your products, price, promotion and service.   And, most often service means a local retailer.


Recently we’ve seen several RFPs for our Ad Builder that go beyond allowing retailers to build newspaper ads and other traditional media to requesting functionality for building digital outputs.

Banner ad landing pages, Google landing pages and more are very popular and it may not be long before you’ll also want your retailers to be able to build fan pages that you can link consumers too.

The technology is changing but the consumers want the same old things.   They want to know about your product, its price, are there any promotions and where can they buy it and who will service it.

That they are looking for those things online is a good thing because it’s actually much easier to deliver this information online than via traditional media.

77% of Consumers Don't Want to Pay to Read Newspapers Online, Duh.

If you’re involved in advertising at a local level you have to be interested in what is happening to newspapers as subscription and advertising revenues are declining.  It’s been recently reported that The New York Times intends to charge (again) for online content.   At the same time an Adweek/ Harris poll indicates  that 77% of adults say they won’t pay anything for reading a newspaper online.


I’m like  most people and would like to keep getting something for free so I’m going to answer a survey the way 77% of these people did.  However, if  I had to pay for local news, I would rather pay for online content than pay for a printed version of the local newspaper.  I won’t pay for both.

From what I read, this is the year when newspapers take the leap and start to charge for online content.  They’ll be different version of how they do it but giving away their content online just isn’t sustainable.

Local  advertisers, like consumers, will also have two choices.  Advertise online or in print.  But in the case of advertisers, they’ll have to do both.

What this means to brand managers, who have a dealer network, is that it’s more important than ever to provide tools to your dealers to advertise online.  Printed newspapers aren’t going to go completely away anytime soon but the need for digital tools is going to grow.

Online Video Watching Continues to Rise

According to a new report from comScore almost 31 billion videos were viewed in November of 2009 and Google properties far outdistanced everyone.


Some other key points from the study are:


The takeaway for all brand managers is to get more video onto your site, your dealer sites and your dealer promotional pages as soon as you can.

Way back in 1996 we learned that consumers don’t compare your site to your competitors, they compare you to the entire internet.  Well, if 84.8% of the entire internet audience viewed online video last month you can rest assured that consumers are expecting to see more lively presentations than what flat html pages are delivering.

All Advertising is Local as Push2TV Adds to Location Based Advertising

At this year’s CES, Intel introduced WiDi (Wireless Display Interface) and Netgear launched their receiver called Push2TV.  Here’s Netgear’s diagram that explains how if your computer has WiDi, you can push your online video to a TV screen wirelessly.

push2tv-diagramThis technology will be available in a few weeks and over time will help revolutionize local advertising.

The reason it will change national and local advertising is that the more screens people are watching where we know their physical location, the better we’re going to be at connecting the national advertising message to the local dealer.  This may eventually lessen the need for some dealers to advertise locally because the national ad will link to their local site.

Just like Google local where a person is searching for a set of tires, because they’re online Google knows with a great degree of accuracy where that computer is located and can position local ads for the dealer in that market.

Well, if consumers are watching “24″ on hulu and pushing it to their TV screen we will be able to add local information to a national ad that will connect the consumer to the local dealer.

Push2TV,  mobile,  Internet-enabled TV, Google Local Search and more are dramatically set to change the future of local advertising as brands can combine their branding message with local content.  This will save millions of dollars in adverting expenditures while improving the consumer experience.    All good things for brands, dealers and consumers.

Dealer Microsites Become Local Advertising Network for Brand Managers

As the internet becomes more localized (because of all that is happening with local search, mobile and even local twitter) brands have to keep pace and deliver local information to consumers or risk losing their interest.

Here’s one way to deliver regional promotions and promotions for specific dealers economically.


Some promotions aren’t national and therefore can’t be a part of your brand site, but all is not lost if you have a robust dealer microsite system.  With dealer microsites you’re in position to quickly publish regional or dealer promotions based on the dealer’s sales level or by the products they carry.

Link to these mircosites from your dealer locator and you have your own internet advertising network that reaches thousands of your most likely prospects daily, without any publication costs.

With a good online admin tool, dealers will be able to enter their own promotions giving your customers even more compelling reasons to head for your best dealers.

Once this system is in place, it will work beyond your dealer locator, too.  These dynamically generated pages can become landing pages for Google local adword campaigns, email efforts and even Facebook dealer fan pages.

It’s like having your own online advertising network, except cheaper.

Dealer Locators Put Consumers in a Circle of Confusion

Mobile, GPS Twitter, Google Local Adwords and more have the World Wide Web morphing  into the Local Narrow Web where consumers are looking online for friends, movies, dinner, products and services in their neighborhood.  Brand sites have to get better at local information to show local price, local dealer location and local promotions or risk disappointing your most likely customers.

In many instances, the trip from the dealer locator to the store is made way too difficult.  How many times have you found a product on a brand site, and then linked from there to a dealer site, that only links back to the original brand site where you started?  We call it the circle of confusion.


Because dealers don’t have the tools to put good data on their site, they simply link to your brand site.  You send the consumer to the dealer site, they send the poor guy back and so it goes and goes.

Or worse, you send the consumer to the dealer’s site where they find competitive information and get what they want somewhere else.

Or, you just give the consumer the street address and maybe a map to the dealer’s store which isn’t any more friendly then the old fashion yellow pages and may be even less effective as the consumer will continue to search online elsewhere for better information.

The solution is fairly easy.  Build microsites for your best dealers and link to them in your dealer locator.  Let the dealer use an online tool to customize and update the information.  Now, the consumer gets product information, price, local promotion and place to buy, all on one page.    Also use these microsites as Google landing pages, Facebook Fan Pages, email links and more.

Break the circle of confusion and make a sale.

Ad Builders Add Digital Outputs to Reach More Consumers Online

We’ve been building ad builders for major brand companies since 1997 and we’re now finally seeing RFPs that are asking for the ad builders to do more than just build traditional pieces.


This chart is an over simplification of what is being done but it will give you an idea of what we are seeing going on in the market place.

Because more consumers are researching online it only makes sense to deliver a sale’s message where buyers are looking.  So, instead of just merging brand content with dealer information to make a newspaper ad, why not also spin a landing page for a Google local adword campaign or a dealer landing page for the dealer locator.   Same content just a different output.  And, with online content there is either a greatly reduced or nonexistent publishing cost.

Interestingly too, we’re seeing that an ad builder works best if it does both, that is, traditional and digital outputs.  If it only does traditional we’re missing out on 70% of consumers who research online before making a durable goods purchase.  If we only do digital output we neglect what is still a substantial part of a dealer’s advertising spend and risk making the dealer work to hard to solve his everyday advertising needs.  A dealer needs one online tool to do it all.

Brands Are Getting Better at Connecting Customers to Local Dealer Info Online

We’re seeing a major emphasis on thinking beyond brand sites to connecting consumers to local dealer information recently.

We deal with great brand name companies that sell products through dealers.   For the last several years we’ve seen these brand sites improve dramatically but only recently have we seen the interest increase for providing customers better dealer information online.


This chart gives you a very basic idea of what we see is happening on the internet today.

Brands are providing tools online for their dealers to build digital output for use all over the internet.

It’s an online admin tool where a dealer can combine information about their store and their promotions with up-to-date content provided by the brand.   Brands then publish that information in dynamic websites that are used as a Google landing page, a dealer link in their dealer locator, a sub-site within the dealer’s own local site and more.

Now, the brand controls the message, tracks the results, generates leads and even makes online sales on the dealer’s behalf, as they block the competitors’ out.

Consumers get accurate product information, price, place to buy and local promotions all in one click.

This is not only a better way of making a sale, it’s also a lot more user friendly then linking to a dealer site that is outdated or loaded with competitive information.

We expect to see even more in 2010 as consumers using mobile and social media demand more local information to be made available online.

You Don't Need Mobile to Have Geo-Targeting

As mobile devices improve there are a lot of articles being written about how powerful geo-targeting is going to be and it’s time to get involved.  As blog posts go, here is a great one from Garrick Schmitt of Advertising Age.


While the post is a great resource for all that is going on in location based services, it highlights the problem too.  There are too many platforms to work with right now.

More importantly, it misses the greatest geo-targeting tool in marketing today,  Google Local Search.  In case you’re not aware, Google knows the physical location of everyone who is searching, and they can feed adwords to specific geographies.  So, you help a great dealer in a market, run a Google Adword campaign within a 25 mile radius of his location.   Consumers don’t have to enter any geo-qualifiers to see his adword, they click-through to learn more and download a coupon that they can take to the store.

Google Local Search, is geo-targeted, cost-effective, inexpensive and you can track every step of the way.  Not to mention, when you provide the landing page you control the brand message, too.

There is no reason to wait for mobile to mature to use geo-targeting.  Google Local is ready right now!