AAN Classified Network Passes $200K Revenue Mark

Advertisers respond favorably to national classified program.

Since AAN launched the Classified Advertising Network (“AAN CAN”) in November, the response from advertisers has been overwhelming.

In its first seven months, the program has generated $200,000 in revenue for AAN, which in turn has paid more than $36,000 in commissions to selling papers.

AAN CAN has been received enthusiastically by several different types of advertisers, including those promoting political campaign work, camp counselor programs and financial services.

Karen Bonsignori, an account executive for Robert Communications, said AAN CAN works well for her client, Eckerd Youth Alternatives, a wilderness camp for troubled and at-risk youth that uses classified advertising to recruit college-aged students as counselors.

“This client used to advertise in major metropolitan newspapers,” Bonsignori said. “They have gotten so much more response from the alternative classifieds than from the major metropolitan newspapers at a fraction of the cost. I think it’s because [alternative newsweeklies]target the 20-somethings much better than the major metropolitans.”

Ads can be purchased nationally for $950 for the first 25 words, or by region. The national circulation is more than 6.5 million, with each ad guaranteed to appear in 90% of the 107 participating AAN member papers. (AAN’s Canadian papers are not part of the network.)

The program has been a godsend for at least one account executive who specializes in placing classified advertising worldwide. Genie Dunn of Strategic Consulting took advantage of AAN CAN immediately after it began.

“I have two clients that run ads every single week since it started,” Dunn said “It just worked out in the long run. It made my life easier and made my clients happier.”

In addition to convenience for advertisers, AAN CAN has generated substantial commission revenue for selling papers. From the 25% commission that comes with every AAN CAN sale, Tucson Weekly has already pocketed $5409, San Francisco Bay Guardian has pulled in $4359, and In Pittsburgh Newsweekly, Orlando Weekly and Phoenix New Times have all earned over $2200.

Chris Staley, a Tucson Weekly ad rep, started selling AAN CAN ads about one month ago. He said the network is a little harder to sell than single ads, but the effort has paid off.

“I feel like it’s getting a fairly good response,” Staley said. “The biggest obstacle to overcome is convincing them to put the money up-front, to put the ads in so many papers. But they’ve all stayed with it after trying it out.”

Bonsignori said she would like to see the program expanded to include small classified display ads, an idea that will be discussed during a June 1 classified session at the upcoming AAN convention in Phoenix, said Marketing Director Adam Ebbin.

Meanwhile, the program is still being refined. Based on a recent survey of AAN CAN contacts at member papers, AAN will no longer accept ads for international dating or “mail order brides,” Ebbin said.

“Each month, we’re attracting more advertisers and more participants happy to have recruitment advertising,” Ebbin said. He added, “As we add new categories, we’re working to make the standards more precise.”

By the end of fiscal year 2000, the AAN CAN program is likely to represent 30-40% of the association’s entire budget. This new source of revenue ultimately will result in a number of new member programs and services, said AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel. “We’re looking at things like a free legal hotline and a classified managers’ conference,” he said. “The classified program is going to generate some real value for AAN members.”

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