Things to Consider if You Want to Serve Advertisers

From Agenda comes some stories that should provide clues to mainstream media players about how they can serve their advertisers better. First is a story in USA Today about how teens are being targeted with cell phone marketing. Cell phone marketing isn’t particularly new, especially if you’ve ever driven into mainland China (where your cell phone is immediately bombarded by text message ads), but one statistic in the story especially caught my eye:

[The] CEO of Access 360 Media, says a holiday coupon campaign for retailers including f.y.e. saw redemption rates of about 40% compared with less than 2% for many print or online coupon campaigns. Shoppers text a code found on store signs to get the coupon, then show it displayed on their phone at checkout.

If you’re a newspaper, you realize that you’re selling a product (print circular) with a 2% response rate, when there’s a competing product available with a 40% response rate. Ouch! How do you compete with that? Well, maybe you don’t. Maybe you join in and figure out a way to bring that kind of relevant advertising to your readers, thereby serving your advertisers. Maybe you print ShotCodes in the paper so that your advertisers can run the digital version of the old Blue Light Special. When readers who took a picture of the ShotCode with a location aware phone are in your advertiser’s store, a time limited coupon can be sent to their phone, bringing a sense of anticipation and excitement to the shopping experience. Can you act as the clearinghouse for these messages for your advertisers?

katemossNext, we read of Kate Moss’s new clothes collection’s debut at London’s Topshop. The debut of this line on May 1st is garnering an incredible amount of attention (try Googling “Kate Moss” and “Topshop”), with large crowds expected at Topshop stores. I wonder if a London newspaper or UK magazine was able to sell an ad package leading up to this launch. A combination online and print package, among other things (how about Twitter messages about the crowd size at various stores?), that reveals a few items in the days before the launch could really help whip up a frenzy!

Finally, there’s “Bum Rush the Charts,” an indie effort to push the song “Mine Again” by Black Lab to the top of the iTunes charts. As the Web site says:

We can match and exceed the reach of big media, corporate media, labels, and the entrenched interests. On March 22nd, we are going to take an indie podsafe music artist to number one on the iTunes singles charts as a demonstration of our reach to Main Street and our purchasing power to Wall Street. The track we’ve chosen is “Mine Again” by the band Black Lab. A band that was dropped from not just one, but two major record labels (Geffen and Sony/Epic) and in the process forced them to fight to get their own music back. We picked them because making them number one, even for just one day, will remind the RIAA record labels of what they turned their backs on – and who they ignore at their peril.

This is happening today and I wouldn’t bet against these guys. The question for mainstream advertising vehicles is obvious – how can I generate this kind of enthusiasm and reach and passion among my readers for my advertisers. This kind of thing is particularly difficult because as a traditional advertising vehicle you are immediately suspect. The first question then, is how do I get the credibility with my readers to even suggest I can create a community that they would be interested in, much less actually do it.

On second thought, I guess the first question, if you’re a newspaper, is how do I get readers with passion, period? They all seem to be talking about everything but traditional media.

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