Lee Enterprises recently announced it has partnered with Okanjo, a native commerce company based in Milwaukee, Wis., to increase digital ad performance. Okanjo’s widget services will work with each of Lee’s 46 daily newspapers.
The official partnership was announced in May, but Bethany Grabher, vice president of business development for Okanjo, said they had already been working with the Wisconsin State Journal (a Lee publication) for a year.
“We help publishers put the right products in the right place at the right time. We blend native advertising with e-commerce,” Grabher explained.
Okanjo curates and automatically places relevant products and top performing ads on a paper’s websites to reach local consumers.
“If (the newspaper has) an article about Denver Broncos and football and Peyton Manning, our technology on their site automatically pulls and places Denver Broncos gear, and then Lee gets a big share of any clicks or sales from that placement,” Grabher said.
James Green, vice president of digital at Lee, said early results have been promising. “We think this strategy complements our traditional display ad efforts and helps local businesses get into the eComm game.”
In addition, Okanjo provides publishers with auction functionalities in local marketplaces. “It’s like a local eBay set up,” described Grabher. And Okanjo’s focus is meant to be local. Through this process, Grabher said she’s learned most ad placement technologies aren’t geared toward that local media content.
“Some of our challenges have been finding products that are relevant to local communities, supporting local sports teams—minor league baseball teams—smaller colleges. We built our technology on relevance and on sending products that not just drive revenue, but are content enriching,” Grabher said. “We want it to be a native type experience; we want the products that we serve to add to the content. To do that with local media publishers, you really have to get granular with their content and understand who their readers are.”
Okanjo is also working on developing “shoppable ad technology,” in which readers can buy products directly from display ads. “That’s a little bit ahead of the curve, consumers aren’t quite ready to shop an ad, but we’re hoping to get some good tests going with that product and really lead the way in the local space on shoppable advertising.”
For more information, visit okanjo.com.