Too much leftovers
How The Palm Beach Post sold an overstock
Over the summer, the folks at The Palm Beach Post in Florida realized they had "a very large stock" of aging spadea paper that had to be used fairly quickly.
Spadea paper, used for premium advertising that folds or wraps around the front section of the newspaper, eventually ages to the point that it's no good. What The Post had left would have had to be written off, said Chadi Irani, senior director, sales strategy.
"We don't sell a lot of spadea," he said. "It was just sitting there, and we had to do something. So we decided to make lemonade."
The unused stock of paper became one half of a special package that also featured premium positioning on the paper's website. With one-time discount pricing, the strategy generated over $110,000 in incremental revenue in three months, starting in August. The Post presented the idea during a recent SNPA P2P video conference.
"The trend has been for any large premium position like this, to put a premium price to it. Naturally we've always thought that because we want to capitalize on it," Irani said.
But as far as the spadea paper, The Post was pricing itself out of the market. The discounted package offered businesses with smaller budgets the opportunity to try out premium space and learn how well it could work for them, Irani said.
"Try it out by inviting more people in to experience this exposure, because it's going to work better for them and then they're going to end up doing other things with you. It's going to open the door."
The web advertising was basically in what Irani called the takeover position. Not only was the client's ad the first that showed up when a reader visited the website homepage, it showed up first in "sideways traffic," or entrances to the website from links to Post content that appeared in other places such as social media, searches or emails.
One of the first buyers was an air-conditioning company, not surprising in West Palm Beach in August. The package was also popular with home improvement and travel businesses as well as local builders.
Irani said the website ad positioning was configured to last for 12 hours at a time, so someone visiting the site more than once in that period wouldn't see the same ad again and again. "We learned that once you do that you get to reach a wider audience than just running into the same people at a higher frequency."
The sales staff made it clear that this was a one-time offer intended to introduce businesses to the advantages of premium advertising. It was not available on Sundays so as not to disturb existing contracts. Although the stock of spadea paper is now reduced, the combination package is still available on a one-time basis to interested clients.
"My advice to other publishers is if you have premium positions like this that are going unsold, try inviting other local clients to experience this exposure," Irani said. "Make it a one-time discount so you don't have to abide by it long-term, but every now and then I think it is good to have."
For more information, contact Chadi Irani at email@example.com.
Jane Nicholes, a regular contributor to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's eBulletin, is a freelance writer and editor based in coastal Alabama. She is an award-winning veteran of more than 30 years in the newspaper business. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.