Tribune Interactive Gets Creative in Fight for National Advertisers

In their struggle against the portals, newspaper sites are trying all sorts of ways to attract national ad dollars, and Tribune Interactive is no exception. The publisher is running innovative campaigns from national advertisers with very different approaches and goals on sites including LATimes.com and the Chicago Tribune Web site. Each, however, reflects the local presence of the online newspapers.

A news angle can provide advertisers with an extra boost in their newspaper media buys, even if the hook involves an unsolved murder from a half-century ago. Universal Pictures played up the journalistic aspect of its flick, “Black Dahlia,” in a print and microsite campaign that launched in Tribune publications two weeks before the film’s September 15 release. Accessible from Web ads on LATimes.com and Chicago Tribune, the microsite features the movie trailer, a photo gallery, and fittingly, news clippings from the Los Angeles Times vault. The film recounts the 1947 Hollywood-area murder investigation of would-be actress Elizabeth Short, a saga covered in depth by the L.A. paper at the time.

The movie campaign was accompanied by a four-page spread with replicas of archived L.A. Times articles, placed in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Newsday print editions. The Web-print connection, commented Tribune Interactive SVP of Sales Dana Hayes, “is an example of how our print and online sales forces are coordinating and selling multi-platform ad campaigns.” The film campaign will end today.

Incorporating the newspaper’s own editorial product into the movie campaign, suggested Tribune Interactive Sales Manager Lance Adeszko, ”is one way…two great brands play off of each other.”

A less robust landing page effort linked from the publisher’s Chicago entertainment site metromix.com promotes Bud Light and lists regularly updated special events at local area nightspots. The campaign launched in March and will run through the end of October, according to Adeszko.

While the Black Dahlia effort aims to draw in potential film goers by immersing them in the sights and stories behind a riveting news sensation, another campaign on Tribune sites is far more utilitarian and direct response in nature. Drugstore chain CVS is running zip code-driven expandable ads on the homepages of the Chicago Trib’s site and LATimes.com.

The ads expand from a small top-right unit announcing “This Week’s Hot Deals” and mirror the retailer’s print circular. Users can input zip codes, scroll through the current week’s sales, and locate nearby store locations directly within the unit. The CVS ads started running in early August and are set to run through the end of the year.

The format, which runs on DoubleClick’s Motif rich media platform, was developed in conjunction with ShopLocal, a local shopping site that partners with Tribune Company, as well as other newspaper and directories publishers and local television broadcasters. ShopLocal automatically updates the ads with data from each week’s new store circulars.

“When you think about a circular, there’s typically a newspaper association with that,” suggested Rob Gatto, VP Sales for ShopLocal. Online newspaper readers, he continued, “get that connection.”

“They’re taking the brand in the newspaper environment and translating the user experience to the Web,” said Adeszko of the database-driven ad format. Although CVS is a national advertiser, he commented, “in a sense, that’s a local campaign.” Tribune interactive is also in discussions to develop campaigns for national retailers like Target and JC Penney, he added.

In July, ShopLocal launched the dynamic ad offering, deemed SmartMedia, on local news aggregator site Topix.net, with ads displaying deals from Walgreens store circulars targeted by zip code to every locale in the country.

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