Finalist: Proven Performance Media

Proving that print advertising works

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Mega-Innovation Award Finalist:
Proven Performance Media

What started out as a way to bring lost advertisers back to The Dallas Morning News turned into a new AH Belo company dedicated to pay-for-performance in print.

"It's an answer to the marketplace that says, 'We want pay-per-action.' And it's driving brand new business back into the newspaper," said Richard Jones, president of Proven Performance Media.

The leadership of the Dallas newspaper sought ways to prove to former advertisers that newspaper advertising works. "From an advertiser point of view we look at success as, are they driving the result they were looking for?" Jones said

The two-year-old company now works with The Seattle Times, San Diego Union Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Austin American-Statesman and The Oklahoman in addition to Belo newspapers. It expects to continue to expand but in deliberate fashion, making sure one market is up and running before moving to the next one.

PPM offers two ways to measure pay-for-performance in advertising using its data analysis platform.

"The first one is pay-per-call. It's primarily for people who drive their business over the phone," Jones said.

Businesses that serve customers by appointment, such as home services providers and doctor's offices, pay for advertising based on how many people call a number placed in a newspaper ad.

Pay-per-sale is the second model. "Pay-per-sale is more about database analysis and looking at sales data from the client to attribute that to our subscribers," Jones said. Examples include furniture stores and automobile dealers.

"They both collect addresses. So whenever they collect an address, we match that to our subscriber list, and for every subscriber that purchases, they pay us a commission or a fee."

As the customer database grows, a paper can use the information to suggest other types of advertising that would benefit the business, Jones said.

"What we do is we bring them back in and then we're able to show them, hey, here's where you guys are coming from. Let's talk about targeted media," he said. "The account executive from the newspaper will then have the opportunity to go in and showcase their portfolio."

Pay-for-performance isn't for everyone. Proven Performance Media seeks out new advertisers, who could also be former advertisers that left a paper. It's also done by invitation only.

This year PPM expects to service more than 250 advertising clients a month, generating more than $11 million in media sales.

"We try to be very purposeful about who we're partnering with and then how we go to that market," Jones said. In large markets, PPM is more involved with the paper day to day and even places an employee on site. In smaller markets, the company provides training and closely monitors how the plan is working, but the publisher needs someone providing dedicated leadership to ensure success.

PPM considers pay-for-performance advertising to be "a meaningful new revenue source." Its goal is to prove that print can be a performance-based medium that can help businesses grow.

"Newspapers have been challenged in the sense that we couldn't prove that it works," Jones said. "Now we're able to."

For more information, email Jones at RLJones@ProvenPerformanceMedia.com.


Jane Nicholes

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 jbnicholes@att.net. Suggestions for future stories and comments on this piece are welcomed.

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