Convention 2012: A License to Print Money

  • Nov 15, 2012

Andrea Merovich

Independent newspaper consultant Ed Henninger led an informative session highlighting ways in which newspapers can capitalize on prime ad locations and content within their newspaper's pages. "I do not believe that making money corrupts the craft," commented Henninger, who serves as director of Henninger Consulting in Rock Hill, S.C.

Henninger presented easy-to-implement, practical ideas that translate to increased revenue for newspapers:

  • Modular vs. creative ads – Everyone is familiar with square, boxy newspaper ads. If you really want an ad to stand out and be considered a premium position, try creatively shaping your ads. For example, if you're running an ad for a wine and spirit store, why not create an ad in the shape of a wine bottle?
  • Place ads in the "ears" of your newspaper, a premium position. If utilizing this ad location, Henninger stresses that simple is better. He suggests keeping the text in these ads short and sweet, and using only one image.
  • Place an ad in the "skinny strip," another premium position in the six inches of advertising space at the top of the page. Just like the "ear" of the newspaper, simple is better. Henninger recommends 25 words or less and one image for ads in this location.
  • Create premium classified positions – Place three classified ads along the top the classified ad page. These ads stand out not only for their location, but also because they are in color and include a photo of the item for sale. Cater to your customers by creating an online location where they can "build their own" classified ads by selecting background color, clip art and so on. 
  • Use color wisely – In advertisements, base your color choices on the ad's intended buying audience.
  • Make the most of photos – Most newspapers sell their photographs to readers upon request; few newspapers actively advertise this service. Henninger suggests including a message like "You can purchase a copy of this photo online at ..." in the caption of all sellable photographs. Another option is including the same message in a filler ad within your newspaper.
  • Upselling – Easy revenue generation exists in the simple upselling of your newspaper's most popular sections – obituaries and announcements (engagements, weddings, anniversaries and births). Charge extra for the addition of photographs, subheadings and clip art. Similar to classified advertising, Henninger urges newspapers to create an online location where customers could build and customize their own announcements.
  • Spotlight features – Recognize a student or athlete of the week in a sponsored feature within your pages. Ask the featured student or athlete to complete a form of simple get-to-know-you questions and use the answers in the spotlight feature. Other spotlight opportunities include a featured business of the week or a recipe of the week.
  • Top-down selling – Rethink the way you place ads in the newspaper. Traditionally, we place larger or heavier ads at the bottom of the page. Henninger suggests starting by placing larger, more prominent ads at the top of the page. This draws more eyes to the ad itself and could be a premium position.
  • QR codes – Use QR codes creatively in your ads. A QR code can direct someone to more than a business website. These codes can connect people to restaurant menus, phone numbers, email addresses and more.

Throughout his presentation, Henninger emphasized not only charging for ad position, but also for the services that go into creating and perfecting them. 

As you move forward and evaluate your newspaper's advertising efforts, Henninger urges you to ask this simple question - Where can you get premium positions?

Click here for a complete look at Ed Henninger's slides from his presentation.

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