The obituary has been a newspaper staple for more than 250 years. Not only have obituaries kept communities informed of those locals who have passed, they have helped genealogists rebuild their family trees.
Obituaries are also one of the most consistent streams of revenue for newspapers. The obit gives families a chance to tell the story of their loved one, and it’s a service most families willingly accept to share news of a passing with their community.
It has become easier than ever to create and publish an obituary, which is important for families who have so much to cope while also managing the details surrounding suffering a loss. Helping families on this most difficult day creates additional revenue opportunities for newspapers and the funeral homes that assist in selling and placing them.
Adpay, owned by Ancestry.com, has been making it easier for newspapers, funeral homes and families to publish obituaries anywhere in the country through its Memoriams platform. Funeral directors have access to the nation’s only placement network of more than 3,300 publications. This full suite is free for newspapers and funeral homes. It provides self-service simplicity and obituary search. The program uniquely offers the public the ability to interact directly with funeral homes to send flowers through their preferred vendor. Additionally, remembrances about the deceased can be shared via an included We Remember, by Ancestry memorial.
“I am really impressed with the Adpay format, particularly the opportunity for families to add photos, videos or other elements, and then tie it into people’s searches on Ancestry.com,” says Inside NoVa Publisher Bruce Potter. “These are differentiating factors in the marketplace that we’re able to offer to funeral homes and families. It doesn’t cost us any money, so that’s a plus.”
Publishers say Memoriams has resulted in improved customer service and increased revenue. “Obituaries are different from regular ads in that you don’t necessarily sell somebody an obituary,” Potter says. “It’s more of a service. Families know that their friends and neighbors read the paper and they want the obituary to be in that paper. By making the service process easier, it just makes it easier all the way around.”
Adams Publishing Group has been rolling the Memoriams platform out to its daily and weekly publications for the last several months. A number of the papers in the group have been using Memoriams for some time, while others have recently implemented it.
APG Western Division President Eric Johnston said: "Our papers have seen at least a 20 percent increase in revenue just from obituaries coming from other markets. Before Memoriams, many of those additional obituaries were lost to the industry." Of note, in 2020 the Memoriams network delivered over $9 million in incremental obituary dollars to newspapers from multiple obituaries added to the original order.
“In many of our markets, 80 to 90 percent of our obituaries come from funeral homes and not private parties,” Johnston said. “Funeral homes are able to use the network as an opportunity to place the obituaries in other markets, which helps those publications as well.”
A funeral director in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he said, could learn that the deceased was originally from Bozeman, Montana. “So, while the family is sitting in the funeral home, the director can ask them if they would like to place the obit in the newspaper of their hometown,” Johnston said.
Gregory Hall, location manager of Georgia Memorial Park Funeral Home in Marietta, Georgia says “It’s an invaluable tool to help us do a quicker, more efficient job of getting prices to families so they can make decisions about how long they want their obit, if they want it with pictures, or where they want it to run. I’ve been in this long enough to where I remember reading the obit to the newspaper while they typed it out.”
Now, he can input the information into the Memoriams system and select newspapers from across the country. While Hall can charge for that service, he and other funeral directors have another new revenue opportunity. Memoriams has added a “Send Flowers” feature that links to the funeral home’s floral vendor. This supports, rather than competes with a critical funeral home revenue line.
“This is such an important feature, as we go through this pandemic right now,” Hall says. “It’s important to have somewhere that people can order flowers, leave condolences, and have their time to remember that person. Having that outlet to express their grief is very important.”
Adpay trains funeral homes to use Memoriams. The hands-on training is accredited by most state funeral home associations for continuing education credit. The Memoriams implementation team works with publications to set up InDesign templates and front-end system integrations. These ensure that submissions fit each publication’s mechanicals, photo specifications, and hyphenation and justification standards for accurate pricing and easy workflow. Memoriams’ exclusive loyalty program for funeral directors and newspaper call center personnel allows the users to accrue points towards valued rewards like gifts cards and iPads.
“They give us page-ready obituaries that we just place on the page,” Johnston said. “It integrates nicely with our ad systems for billing information. But the most attractive piece for us was the network of newspapers of varying sizes that Memoriams has put together that allows us to participate and generate incremental revenue that we would not normally have if we were just a standalone, isolated obituaries platform.”
“The folks at Memoriams are very easy to deal with,” Potter says. “It’s a good vendor/client relationship. They are very responsive, very helpful. We have regular check-ins with their team. They keep us up-to-speed on updates, so it’s a good relationship all the way around.”
Visit https://adpay.com/memoriams/ for more information or to schedule a demonstration.
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