Do you remember the first few years in online media buying when the major print publishers offered banner ads to their advertisers as a value ad? It wasn’t that long ago and it didn’t do anything to help save the newspaper industry. While most of the talk is about the decline in subscribers and readership, I believe that this problem is secondary to the newspapers key problem – their inventory was overvalued by a magnitude and they could get away with it because they controlled distribution and had “exclusive” access into our homes. We all know those days are gone, but there is still a fairly robust group of people that like a physical newspaper and haven’t shifted to reading the local news online.
Now the newspaper publishers that are successful online are facing a different issue – they have way more inventory than they can sell directly to advertisers at full price. So what is an offline/online publisher to do to compete with hundreds of other news sites and brands that capture our online attention? I suggest they start throwing in print as a value ad. Print advertising is still very valuable, and I believe that the newspaper industry could use this as a key differentiator to garner a larger share of full price, online display advertising. I know that my clients would value newsprint ads if they were included in a package and I am sure it would lead them to more buys from newspaper sites.
I think this is inevitable, but it probably won’t happen on a major scale for a while. When print becomes a value ad it will be the final confirmation of the end of newspapers as a print advertising medium and few newspaper owners are willing to accept this fate, even if they know it is coming. I suggest they learn from the past and jump ahead of the issue and use it to their benefit. I would be interested in learning if any large advertisers have received this type of an offer from the newspaper companies.