Alternative newsweeklies have what it takes to attract online advertising. They're highly local. They have a young, tech-savvy readership. But the papers are still in the Dark Ages when it comes to Internet advertising, says ad sales consultant Mike Blinder (pictured), who will speak at the AAN convention in San Antonio in June. He and other experts urge the industry to follow the lead of some of the larger AAN papers and make their Web strategies more cutting-edge.
If the economy is reviving, many AAN papers are still waiting for the signs to show up in their ad revenues. Although national ad sales went up last year, papers reported mixed results in local advertising, their mainstay. Reasons to be hopeful in 2004 include increases in real estate and recruitment ads, diversification of ad categories, and the notion that merchants and the public have grown tired of brooding and want to feel optimistic about their economic prospects again. Sales staff need to "get the message out there" about what alternative newsweeklies have to offer, says Jim Wolf, Village Voice Media's vice president of national advertising.
"When you talk about holiday gift guides, it sounds very un-alternative," Baltimore City Paper Publisher Don Farley says. Maybe so, but while some AAN papers publish gift guides devoted solely to advertising, others season the ads with sex and satire and the kind of edgy content that would never make it past mainstream-media gatekeepeers.
How fast the market for local advertising is recovering â€” or even if it is recovering â€” has become a subject of intense speculation along Madison Avenue. For those arguing whether or not there is evidence of a comeback, the answer echoes that from the old Certs commercial: Stop, you're both right.
Deutsche Bank publishing analyst Paul Ginocchio cut his retail advertising growth forecast for the newspaper industry while warning that department store spending is migrating to TV as stores focus on brand-building.
Battered for three years by a severe ad drought, Madison Avenue may finally have something to celebrate. Advertising spending in the U.S. jumped 6.8% in the first half of 2003, buoyed by increased ad outlays from packaged goods, automotive and entertainment companies, according to a new industry study.
Hollywood will win the war against illegal downloading but the battlefield will be littered with casualties, including the DVD and CD formats as physical means of distributing video and audio, according to a Forrester Research study.
An ad for a Des Moines-area watering hole pictures Larry Eustachy, the former Iowa State basketball coach, lifting a cold beer alongside the man who called for his resignation. The ad, which appears in the July 9 edition of new AAN-member Pointblank, did not amuse ISU officials even though at the bottom of the advertisement, in small print, is a disclaimer - "ad is purely satirical." A university spokesman called it "a cheap grab for attention." Other ads for the bar, Autographs, feature unlikely drinking buddies, such as Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinksy.
Donald Bren, a developer and GOP stalwart in Southern California, is on both Forbes' list of wealthiest Americans and OC Weekly's list of "scariest" Orange Countians. Despite OC Weekly's frequent exposes of Bren's â€œshenanigans,â€ his company was a regular advertiser until a few weeks ago, when it yanked ads worth about $120,000 a year. "Our crime? Weâ€™d forgotten to adhere to Brenâ€™s prime directive: thou shalt not publicly discuss the actions of my wandering penis," R. Scott Moxley writes.