NAA Panelists Sound off on Newspaper Site Ad Spending

naa.gifPanelists at yesterday’s Newspaper Association of America Mid-Year Media Review panel, “Attracting Internet Ad Dollars: Solving the Value Equation,” dealt with where the ad revenue is coming from, where it’s not, and why.

Although there were a few discrepancies among panelists’ viewpoints, most agreed on the big picture: newspaper site ad spending is up. Here are some of the finer points:

Local and Brand Ad Dollars Moving to Newspaper Sites
Jim Warner, EVP/East Region, Avenue A/Razorfish, agreed with the rest of the panelists that interactive newspaper advertising will continue to grow. However, he noted that this is a result not only of local advertiser dollars moving online, but of “current advertisers making a deeper commitment.”

Panelists also pointed to a rise in brand advertising.

National Advertisers Still Ain’t There
In addition to a dearth in national advertiser spending on newspaper sites, Chris Hendricks, VP, Interactive Media, The McClatchy Co., suggested that these publishers are ignoring “hyper local” advertisers. “We don’t really service them well,” he said.

Warner continued that national advertisers find it difficult to purchase media on newspaper sites. “They’re generally not an appealing place for national advertisers,” he commented, noting that publishers are still packaging Web ads with print as value-ads. (This certainly doesn’t help establish the value of their online media offerings.)

Shawn Riegsecker, CEO/president, Centro, added some context, explaining that ten years ago newspaper publishers were so worried about spiting their print cash cow by pushing online, they ended up missing out on advertisers that eventually flocked to portals and search (for geo-targeted ads, for instance). Now that those relationships have been established, paper pubs are trying to catch up. “Unfortunately that set the industry back,” he concluded, noting that the value proposition of these sites has not been established for national advertisers.

A Search Market Correction?
As an aside, Riegsecker also poked a hole in the search balloon, calling it “glorified yellow pages,” and predicting that search advertising will taper off, especially as more brand advertisers come online. (He may have a point there considering the fact that search is still primarily used as a direct response medium.)

A Need for Comprehensive Measurement
“The holy grail” for advertisers is what Riegsecker referred to as a “media dashboard” where advertisers could track all buys across all media. “It’s probably not that far away,” he added, insinuating that Avenue A/Razorfish probably has something like this up its sleeve already in the works.

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