Online News Hits are Better Than The Print Versions

4 09 2008

In case you missed it yesterday, a top 75 U.S. newspaper offered its ENTIRE newsroom voluntary buyouts – all 320 reporters, editors, copy editors, etc. According to the paper, one of the major reasons it’s in a slump is because advertisers are pulling dollars from print newspapers and opting for online sites, including online news sites.

Is this more evidence that news outlets’ Online versions have become more important than their print counterparts?

When I started in this business, clients LOVED print news stories on their brands. Many seemed to prefer them over great TV news hits. I suspected it had something to do with being able to physically pick up a newspaper or magazine, proudly wave it around for the entire marketing department to see and then leave it along with a Post-It note in the CEO’s inbox.

Since those days, the shift in emphasis to Online newsrooms by media outlets has surged, but many clients still seem to see it as second-rate to the print version. It’s not. In fact, I think that in most cases it’s a better hit for the client. Here’s why:

  • Advertisers go where the crowds are. The reason many are shifting more dollars in to online advertising is because many news outlets’ Web sites now have more unique visitors than they have in circulation for their respective print versions. That means more people potentially see the great feature article on your brand.
  • It’s easier for readers to share online news stories about your brand with their colleagues, family and friends. Think about the time it takes to make copies of a print article and walk it to everyone in your department or to scan it in seven times to get the contrast right so you can email it. Now think about how easy it is to copy and paste a URL into an email or Digg a story.
  • The online versions don’t have the same space issues as their print counterparts. That means there’s a better chance of the article on your brand NOT being left on the editing room floor due to space constraints.
  • News organizations are focusing a lot of their attention on building and growing their online versions. They need to fill it with great editorial content to attract readers so they can attract advertisers. That’s how they make money. Since they’re looking for great content – and lots of it – it provides more opportunities for your brand’s stories to be told.

I’m not knocking great placements in print versions of newspapers and magazines. The more places that positive stories about your brand show up, the better. But I’d argue that we shouldn’t look at online news stories as a less-desired placement.

What reasons would you add? Why should we be just as happy – if not more happy – with an online hit as we are with print versions? Or do you totally disagree?

*Cross-posted from my little corner of the online world.


Product Placements May Require In-Programming Disclosure

23 06 2008

Today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal includes an article reporting that product placements are going to get FCC scrutiny. It’s one each of us in the marketing business should read and a developing story we should follow, because it could have a big impact on both paid and unpaid product placements going forward.

With more consumers using digital recorders to fast forward their way through TV spots, product placements are on a significant rise to reach them within programming. The WSJ article reports that Nielson Co. found product placements are up 40 percent in the first quarter alone on broadcast TV shows and that spending on paid product placements is up 33.7 percent from a year ago.

The FCC is expected to start a formal look at new requirements for product placement disclosure. New rules could completely change the product placement game for advertisers and PR folks, depending on the outcome of the FCC’s rule review. One of the biggest recommendations for the tool is to think of it as product integration. The product should show up contextually, relevantly and become part of the story. Anything too promotional becomes a distraction to viewers and typically turns them off. So imagine what may happen the next time you’re watching “The Office.” Those prominently placed HP computer monitors may require a flashing bubble across the bottom to make sure you know that HP provided them.

This is also big news for those on the TV side of the fence. I’ve received calls from several producers who work on reality shows asking if a client would like to provide free products in return for recognition in the credits. It’s one way they look to cut back on expenses and fall under their budgets.

What do you think about product placements? Do you think the FCC is going too far or do you think it needs to reign in the dramatic growth of what some are calling “stealth advertising?”

(Thanks to my friend Maria Lachapelle for pointing me to the WSJ article!)