Sunday, March 08, 2009

McClatchy, The Councilperson & Supermarket Ads

Last Sunday I posted McClatchy’s Bee Execs Didn’t Need The Latest Indignity.

The short of it: Davis, CA councilperson Sue Greenwald had some advice for the execs at McClatchy’s floundering Sacramento Bee. Here’s part of what she told them:

Newspapers and businesses have to learn how to advertise on the internet. There is no reason why on-line advertising, and hence revenues, should not be as effective as hard copy advertising.

I have been really missing the Safeway weekly specials and the Macy's sale ads since I went all-electronic.
Greenwald’s presumption she knows best and the Sacbee execs are dummies must have hurt since they justify their positions in part by touting their acumen in growing Internet traffic and ad revenue.

Drew commented on the post. I want to share some of what he said (italics) and offer some comments in response to him. (plain)

Drew began - - -

Ms. Greenwald's comments about the SacBee are interesting, if only to point out the hubris of many elected officials. She says that all the SacBee needs to do is get more advertising on their on-line site. Sure....why not? That's easy!

Of course, the steps involved in actually monetizing the advertisements is just a minor detail to politicians like Ms. Greenwald - who is going to pay the SacBee to put up advertising that they could put up on the very same internet by themselves? (emphasis added)

I'm sure that Safeway has a website, at which their coupons could be placed, and probably at a far smaller cost per customer than at the SacBee site.

Most supermarket chains I’m familiar have started doing something much like what the airlines did in the 90s when they were able to cut back on costly newspaper advertising by getting the public to use their internet sites and other travel sites to search for schedules and fares, especially sale fares.

Harris Teeter is a chain located in some Southern and Border states. For many years its had something called a VIC (Very Important Customer) program, You’re VIC card entitles you to sale specials and other benefits.

Last year HT started e-VIC. In exchange for letting HT email you once a week with the specials it also puts in the weekly ad insert in McClatchy’s Raleigh N&O, you can now get all the benefits of being a VIC member plus some benefits only available to e-VIC members.

Example: There’s a promotion on now. VIC members who for 14 of 16 weeks purchase $40 or more dollars in goods (beer and wine excepted) get a card worth $25 in gas at some local stations.

The offer is the same for e-VIC members except they get a card worth $50.

I’m sure even Councilperson Greenwald will in time come to understand what HT and other supermarkets are doing and why they won't need to do their online advertising at newspaper sites. The Sacbee execs surely do.

BTW – As Drew suggests, there is each week a special sale coupon available only to e-VIC members.

Take a look at HT’s e-VIC site here.

Drew continues - - -

But, to the elected officials, the actual means of making a profit off the web are just details.

To them, it's all the concept, not the practice. When the actual practice doesn't quite work out, you blame it on some other administration, or the other party, or Washington, or something else. In the interim, to the politicians, there's always more money to be had, since raising taxes is in fact a simpler detail than monetizing supermarket ads on the internet.

Thank you, Drew. You’re right about the supermarkets and the pols.

And thank you to McClatchy Watch where I first learned of Greenwald's ill-informed comments.


Anonymous said...

I would assume the politicians are rather nervous over any newspapers decline. Politicians have no other large outlet for their "bragging" about what they have done for us today articles. With the decline in news outlets will come the decline in political awareness by the public. After all, who wants to go to a politicians web site to read about their overzealous, under achieved accomplishments. What I see coming is politicians actually doing what they say to get common folks to visit their web sites to view what they have actually done for us today. This could be a win-win for us the people.