Promotional Spotlight: The Morning Call’s Digital Option

Promotional Spotlight: The Morning Call’s Digital Option

Newly debuted digital option opens the door to preprint advertisers

Digital advertising has historically been an in-depth and unique aspect of the advertising offerings for many newspapers. With generally high-level trackability and what can be seen as tricky jargon, it often makes sales conversations with advertisers cumbersome. The preprint advertiser has been one of the most difficult to engage with digital advertising. Chad Peters, premium account director at The Morning Call, is no stranger to this challenge. “We have been focusing on how to do digital with preprint clients for years,” said Peters. “We’re constantly trying to engage with our preprint advertisers regarding something that makes sense to them in the digital space – something that highlights digital capabilities and utilization potentials.” Peters says he was looking for a way to leverage first-party data and the ability to take the same information they would discuss with preprint advertisers from a print perspective and put it into a similar format from a digital perspective. In fall 2020, Peters decided to begin to mine The Call’s data and organize it in a way that would be an apples-to-apples conversation with preprint advertisers.

“The preprint advertisers understand the idea of saturation by ZIP code, so, if we can relate that concept behind a digital platform, it makes sense to them, because they’ve been doing it that way for so long,” said Peters. Using a platform provided by Tribune, the parent company of The Morning Call, Peters and his team worked to organize the existing data in a manner that would match the language preprint advertisers were familiar with. He was able to identify the ZIP codes the advertisers were currently buying in as well as the people within those ZIP codes who were not current subscribers but could be targeted by digital campaigns. The platform was able to match around 90% of the total households in each ZIP code that had a digital footprint and could therefore be targeted with a digital campaign. Another aspect was the ability to set up conversion zones around the brick-and-mortar locations of the businesses and track the conversion rate. “We can note how many of those who engaged with the digital ads from those addresses were driven to that store using the digital platform,” said Peters.

With the debut of the new digital program at the beginning of 2021, the response from preprint advertisers was strong and The Call team is beginning to roll into what Peters calls “phase two” of the new digital campaign. Using the same information, he and his team are working to develop and grow their existing print advertisers. “We can tell them that they’re running [ads] with us in certain ZIP codes and there are people there that are not subscribers, but we can target those people with digital,” said Peters. So far, the second phase is going well and Peters said it is just the tip of the iceberg for the future. He said the new capabilities with data tracking and analysis are opening up the ability to show the full sales funnel that digital advertising can provide. “In the past, digital was focused on high level datapoints – there was limited trackability,” said Peters. “Now we can show it from start to finish.” In the future, The Morning Call’s team plans to build out a more robust first-party database that will require deeper investigation into subscribers and nonsubscribers alike, so the team can uncover more information about them and how to target them with digital ads.

For additional information, please contact Chad Peters at (484) 280-5705 or