Adopting the print advertising strategy utilized by Google could be the key to maintaining profitability in the increasingly competitive realm of print advertising, according to marketing and advertising expert Len Kubas, vice-president of Kubas Consultants. Canadian papers arenÔÇÖt dead in the water, but for U.S. papers, it may be too late, he said.
Kubas gave a presentation entitled Advertising: How to Sell More Print Ads: Lessons from Google during a breakout session at the Ink & Beyond conference at the Westin Harbour Castle.
Toronto Star reporter Emily Mathieu caught up with him before his presentation to ask him a few questions about Google and the kinds of strategies the advertising departments in Canadian newspapers should adopt:
WHY ARE YOU RECOGNIZING GOOGLE AS A LEADER IN THE FIELD OF PRINT ADVERTISING?
When we think of Google we think of search, we think of ad words in context and everything like that. But what Google has done quite cunningly is developed a way to sell print advertising that the newspapers are so far behind now they may not be able to catch up. What that means is Google has made it simple, inexpensive and effective to use print advertising. Which newspapers, still, after 150 years of selling advertising in print, are having difficulty doing.
WHAT IS GOOGLEÔÇÖS BASIC APPROACH TO PRINT ADVERTISING?
What they do is, you can go on and Google will act as your intermediary. You can use a template that theyÔÇÖve created to build your own advertisement and you can submit it to as many papers as you want and you tell the newspaper the price you are willing to pay for the ad you yourself have created. Then the newspaper can look at that and say, do we want to accept it at that price. They know they have an ad that is ready to go into the paper. They know they have an ad approved by GoogleÔÇôif you willÔÇôthat is of a decent quality. Many newspapers are accepting it because itÔÇÖs a way of bringing in more revenue. It goes along with that long tail concept that Chris Anderson has advocatedÔÇôyou know where you donÔÇÖt get a lot of money but you get a little bit of money from a lot of people. That is the program that Google print ads works with.
WHY SHOULD NEWSPAPERS FOLLOW GOOGLEÔÇÖS MODEL?
What Google has done is, in the course of about a year and a half, they have figured out how to make it easy to buy ads, how to reduce the cost of buying advertising, how to measure the results of the ads and do it with more frequency and to grow a print advertising business that now includes 750 newspapers in the United States. The problem that you end up with is the rates that Google print ads develop for a newspapers are way below what the published rates cards are… which are very complex and statements in fiction because nobody ever pays what is on the rate card. There are always deals available.
WHY ARE NEWSPAPERS SLOW TO ADAPT?
I guess when you have been doing the same thing for 100 years and have been highly successful… now remember newspapers were extremely successful and profitable for 99.9% of their total kind of sector existence as a mass medium starting with (Johann) Gutenberg and moving up to 2000 or so.
But in 2000, advertising sales dropped off dramatically for newspapers in the United States and have fallen at a significant rate since then. Mainly because they have not developed new ways to package, price and sell advertising in print.
We know that newspapers are going to have to move to online, to digital to mobile to new kind of non print applications but they also have to protect and grow the 90% of the business they are now getting fr