Newsday.com Attracts 400 Advertisers With Pay-Per-Click Promotion

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By: Nekoro Gomes

In an effort to generate more online revenue, Long Island-based Newsday.com is currently offering an innovative program to educate advertisers about its “pay-per-click” option.

The Tribune-owned Web site is offering $50 worth of free pay-per-click ads in hopes that advertisers will get hooked on the results-driven program.

“Bids [on advertising space] can range from 25 cents to $12,” explains Anthony Wills, Newsday.com’s general manager. “Large portions of our advertisers come in using the $50 [promotional offer] and approximately one-third of those advertisers put in additional money immediately.”

The program allows customers to bid on sponsored links featured at the end of news content and on the sites’ home page. The local and out-of-state businesses that participate can pick where they want their links to show up and advertisers only pay when visitors click on their link.

Since Newsday.com launched the effort in June 2005, more than 400 advertisers have signed on. According to Wills, 80% of those customers are advertisers who’ve never worked with Newsday.com or even the daily print newspaper.

Wills believes the performance-based aspect of allowing advertisers to track how many clicks their Web sites receive is a large part of the promotions’ appeal.

“People do not spend a nickel with us until we send a customer to them,” he said. “Performance measurement is going to be key as we continue to be involved in a continually changing media environment.”

Frank Ciminelli, the owner of Farmingdale, N.Y.-based “Balloons N’More,” placed his bids for sponsored links two weeks ago after receiving a promotional postcard from Newsday Interactive. Ciminelli placed bids for the links to his gift accessory business in every category of Newsday.com’s content and paid extra for prime space on the Web site’s main page.

Ciminelli said that even though online traffic to his Web site has increased, he has yet to notice a measurable increase in business. Still, Ciminelli was impressed with the technical support he received from Newsday.com, and expects to purchase additional space in the future.

“It’s only been two weeks but at least I’m being seen and people are clicking,” Ciminelli said when contacted by E&P. “I’m very satisfied with the traffic and I’m satisfied with the service I’ve received from Newsday Interactive.”

Newsday is promoting the $50 introductory offer with ads on the site and with a navigation button that takes users to a landing page describing the program.

Newsday.com also has a pay-per-click developer in their advertising department whose sole job is to suggest to advertisers different topic areas where advertisements will have a greater impact.

According to Nielson/NetRatings, Newsday.com recorded 2.6 million unique visitors for December 2005, placing it third among Tribune’s newspaper Web sites after LATimes.com and Tribune.com.

Across the industry the share of revenue coming from online advertising still lags far behind traditional print ads, but as the numbers improve Wills believes that other newspaper Web sites need to offer similar features that make their ad departments indispensable.

Wills has been an outspoken supporter of Quigo, the New York-based company that provides the back end to its pay-per-click program. He said he chose the smaller company over the dominant player in the field, Google, because Quigo allows newspapers to retain and manage their relationships with advertisers.

“Local media properties need to engage in relationships with local advertisers,” Wills said. “If we don’t go this way, we’re saying that we’re willing to be the third party. In the long run, I think it would be a mistake. I know it’s a mistake for our property, and I think it will be a mistake for the [newspaper] industry as well.”

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