Local Newspaper Network Angles for National Advertisers

Local advertisers are the bread and butter of small newspapers, but now non-profit trade association Suburban Newspapers of America (SNA) aims to attract national advertisers to the sites of its newspaper publisher members. Inventory on 152 sites representing 370 papers in the U.S. and Canada are being made available to launch with the network June 1.

“As an association, if we’re telling [members] you should look into interactive, we should be more proactive as well,” explained Deanna Lewis, sales manager for SNA’s new Suburban Online Network. Newspapers are “a little behind the eight ball when it comes to online advertising,” she suggested. Selling to national advertisers will help members to attract more local ad dollars, she believes. “If [local advertisers] see national advertisers on the sites, they’re going to want to be there, too.” The network is refraining from selling to any advertisers that already place ads in local papers so as not to compete with members.

In the initial offering, SNA is providing $0.50 CPM run-of-network buys to a maximum of six advertisers on a monthly ad run basis. Publishers have the choice of opening up six run-of-site ad placements or one rotating homepage position. “We’re kind of blazing a trail here…in order to get a good amount of sizes,” commented Lewis, noting that different publishers are offering a variety of sizes, the largest of which is 300×250. Rather than pay its publisher members directly for the inventory, SNA is offering them rebates and other member benefits.

“With our network we’re hitting more community newspapers,” said Lewis. “We’re hitting the local families in the suburbs….This is a market that a lot of national advertisers kind of overlook, I think.”

Buying on the network could be a means of reaching a desirable suburban demographic in a way that’s less expensive than buying ads on big city or regional paper sites, noted Lewis. “It’s a less expensive route to hit a highly affluent demographic,” she continued. Many of these small town paper sites are “not inundated by advertising,” added Lewis, so advertisers may have less clutter to contend with than on other sites.

Sites in the network currently attract a total of about 40 million pageviews per month according to Lewis. Suburban Online Network affiliates include Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., publisher of over 90 daily newspapers and additional non-dailies including enewscourier, the online component to Athens, Alabama’s The News-Courier; The Huntsville Item’s itemonline.com of Huntsville, Texas; and Tonawanda, New York’s Tonawanda News Web site. Canada’s InsideToronto.com, which represents about 22 papers, according to Lewis, is also in the new network.

So far the network represents 370 of SNA’s nearly 2,000 U.S. and Canadian newspapers. “I can see this increasing tremendously once I go out to conferences and start exhibiting and talking to members,” predicted Lewis.

Lee Enterprises, a newspaper group publisher and SNA member that has not signed onto the new network, is an investor in TownNews.com, a company that offers a similar online ad network of small newspaper sites.

In addition to assisting its members with joining the online ranks, Lewis said SNA hopes wooing more online advertisers will help make up for recently-declining print classified revenues. SNA has run its print Suburban Classified Advertising Network for the past seven years. The organization uses its network revenue for conferences, industry research studies and news it provides to its members. “We’re just looking at a way to help the papers and help the association,” said Lewis.

Editor’s Note: InsideToronto.com was originally reported as Toronto.com.

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