Part of a Series Featuring NAA’s 2016 Accelerator Pitch Program Winners
In 2016, spending on digital advertising in the United States is projected to grow nearly 15 percent, amassing nearly $68 billion in advertising sales, according to a report released by Magna Global. And for the first time, digital media is estimated to outperform TV as the top advertising category, similarly dominating the global market just one year later. While advertising in all forms remains an important revenue stream for newspapers, the business strategy is shifting. In addition to providing ad space, news organizations are increasingly offering full-scale marketing campaigns as a way to better serve local businesses and capture additional ad revenue.
The downside of this model is that it can be significantly more demanding on news organization staff. That is where AdCellerant, one of NAA’s 2016 Accelerator Pitch Program winners, comes in. A digital marketing services and ad technology company whose clients including the Tampa Bay Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Voice Media group, AdCellerant already manages more than 7,500 digital marketing campaigns for small businesses each year.
“[Our software, UI.Marketing,] allows them to have full control and full authority over what their advertisers are getting, what’s being executed, how it’s being executed, the ROI and ultimately even the cost model,” said Brock Berry, AdCellerant’s founder and CEO. He explains that while a company may have an established advertising team, they may not be as familiar with selling products in the digital advertising space, which is where AdCellerant can help.
“By bringing this [software] to the industry, we think that we’re bringing them the ability to scale these digital marketing products into the long-term and in a more profitable way that’s better for the local business owners,” said Berry.
As part of the services and unique software, called UI.Marketing, offered to its media partners, AdCellerant first works to create a custom campaign recommendation, which includes specifics on deliverables and guaranteed results. AdCellerant provides sales support and ongoing training so that its media customers can better understand and execute their ad campaigns.
Additionally, AdCellerant provides in-depth reporting and analytics, allowing clients to better track campaigns, which has proven to be an important way for newspapers to distinguish themselves from the competition. According to a report from Search Marketing Daily, less than 30 percent of small businesses utilize site analytics, call tracking or coupon codes. Furthermore, approximately 66 percent said they lacked the expertise to properly track data—and a full 18 percent simply don’t track any data at all. With AdCellerant’s technology, newspapers can see how their campaigns are performing and gather additional data about their audiences.
AdCellerant’s combination of training, campaign development and analytics has already proven successful for media companies. In one case study, a midsize media company with more than 80 salespeople in 10 different markets was trained by the startup on a variety of digital ad products, such as digital display, mobile and search engine optimization. In about six months, the company sold $790,000 in new contracted digital revenue and added approximately $6 million to its pipeline. It completed 1,080 proposals and had an average closing rate of about 25 percent.
Berry notes that there is a “tremendous amount of revenue opportunity” in this space and that AdCellerant is looking forward to working with the media industry to tap into that revenue potential. “We try to increase, improve and essentially dial in “viewability” for these local business owners and generate ROI for them,” he explained.”[That’s] key, because if we are not doing that, then the media companies can’t create that compounded growth rate.”
As for what he sees for the future relationship between the newspaper industry and digital marketing, Berry recognizes that strong, reliable news content forms the basis of much of digital marketing’s success.
“Newspapers’ two biggest core competencies are creating really good content for readers and their sales team,” Berry said. “As long as these media companies focus on their journalism and [sell] that audience that they’re creating, they’re going to follow the audience wherever it goes.”
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.