PaperBoy Delivers Coupons to Your Desktop

Local online advertising is in high demand. Many Internet users seek out local business information, and many advertisers are eager to satisfy their needs.

There’s another aspect of this industry that doesn’t receive nearly the attention local search and online directory advertising do. It encompasses local circulars, flyers, retail promotions, and coupons.

I fully grasped the size of this online content sector when I saw a recent profile of The Grocery Game on TV. The site offers downloadable grocery lists, complete with regional promotional discounts and coupons for consumers in nearly every state. Hundreds of thousands of loyal users are drawn by the promise of saving hundreds of dollars on their grocery bills each week. With the site’s audience having grown exponentially over the years, there’s seemingly no limit to the number of consumers interested in saving on their purchases.

According to a recent survey by email marketing and data analytics solutions firm Prospectiv, 58.4 percent of respondents clip coupons from newspapers and magazines. Although only 5.7 percent currently search for coupons on the Web, a whopping 95 percent spend time clipping coupons in general, and 62 percent do so as often as once a week. With sites such as The Grocery Game making it easier to find coupons and discounts online, the migration to the Web is certain to continue.

Though this is good news for the countless retailers who have been itching to target this audience segment, other issues blocked their way. Apart from offering coupons on their own sites and via email, or delivering e-circulars through destination sites such as ShopLocal, online display ad opportunities designed to reach cost-conscious local shoppers have been limited.

Media buyers faced additional impasses. How do you manage the constant stream of newly updated ad creative necessary to ensure content stays timely and fresh? From a campaign management perspective, the logistics of a circular or coupon campaign like this seem nightmarish.

Enter a new ad format from rich media developer PointRoll. PaperBoy Local Delivery allows advertisers to deliver market-specific content nationwide. It includes three major components: dynamic content, a local delivery network, and interactivity (rich media).

The rollover, expandable rich media banner is fully interactive and seamlessly integrates featured products, circulars, pricing, shopping lists, store locators, email signups, calendar reminders, and coupon-printing functionality. Ad content is pulled from the flyers and e-circulars posted through ShopLocal, with which PointRoll has a partnership. Everything, from products to prices, is always up to the minute.

PaperBoy ads, which can be purchased via Gannett Co. (PointRoll’s parent company), Knight Ridder, Real Cities Network, Tribune Company, USATODAY.com, and Yahoo sites, are geotargeted to consumers based on Zip Code or IP address, depending on whether they’re delivered through a local newspaper site or a national online publication. The information Internet users receive is specific to their region and local stores.

“Consumers are loyal to their local papers online, and now they can get access to coupons just like they do offline and can also interact with them,” says Tasia Malakasis, VP of global product management with PointRoll. “The benefit to advertisers is they can track this interactivity, whereas offline you can’t tell who did what.”

Malakasis likens the PaperBoy experience to installing a camera in a consumer’s living room on a Sunday to watch which flyers she peruses and which coupons she clips. With the new ad unit, advertisers can know much more about how Internet users interact with their circulars.

Another benefit is media buyers can capture local eyeballs on larger sites, allowing them to consolidate ad buying. With a couple phone calls, an advertiser can have region-specific ad material in all his target markets. Because that material is automatically updated, there’s less work for the buyer, both short and long term. “Theoretically, they could generate one creative per year,” says Malakasis of PaperBoy advertisers.

This gateway to local consumers (and brick-and-mortar sales) is sold through publishers for an undisclosed fee added to the negotiated CPM (define) ad rate.

If you thought coupon-cutting was the final frontier of online content, welcome to the future of lazy Sunday afternoons. Now when consumers head online to hunt down local savings, advertisers will be right there, ready to deliver.

Meet Tessa at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago, December 5-8, 2005.

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