Success in online ad sales for traditional media businesses

A dramatic increase in the supply of online inventory and a decline in advertiser demand are putting severe pressure on online ad rates.  Online sales teams in traditional media businesses are struggling to turn increased traffic into extra revenue, and compare poorly to “old media” sales teams on efficiency measures.  Internal competition is often exacerbated by incentive schemes that encourage the trad media team to hold back on client leads for their online colleagues.  Yet the old media ad revenues are in inexorable decline, and there is no option but to keep learning and investing, however tempting it may be to outsource online sales.  Here are five essentials for success in online ad sales for traditional media companies.  I’m indebted to European media consultancy and online sales gurus at Red Door who have extensive expertise in this field.

1. Scale

To be attractive to the main buying points, and worth the hassle of them dealing with you, scale is essential.  Maximise the cross-promotion opportunities from your offline media.  Get as much of your archive and content assets as you can online to grow natural search.  Consider creating a network with like-minded businesses.

2. Targeting

In a world flooded with undifferentiated inventory, targeting is the only way to gain a premium.  If your brand doesn’t naturally create targeted subgroups, then consider behavioural targeting tools to add value.  The big online players will be moving this way, so you have to stay one step ahead.

3. Content and Context

Content is the USP of traditional media businesses, and the right context can have a dramatic impact on CPMs.  However it is expensive to create, so you need to pick your battles, and put the effort into the most valuable niches where you have a content edge.

4. Analytics

Clients will increasingly want sophisticated targeting, optimisation during the time the campaign is live, and detailed post-campaign analysis.  You can’t skimp on investing in tracking and analytics packages.  If you don’t have the scale to do this, consider teaming up with like-minded media businesses.

5. Remnant strategy

However niche your audience and however fabulous your content, everyone has remnant inventory – maybe forums or listings that are less appealing, or dayparts when traffic is low.  So you need a clear remnant strategy.  As mass sites get better at behavioural targeting, this may become an increasing proportion of your inventory, so get ahead by planning it now.

I’m keen to hear from online ad sales teams in traditional media organisations and how they are tackling the challenge of the current ad environment.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy, Penmaen Media, creates practical digital media and marketing strategies.  To find out how we could help your business build an online ad sales strategy around these five essentials, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion.