Blog network Gawker Media’s ad revenues are up 20% year-over-year, according to an internal memo obtained by the Poynter Institute. Not bad, considering the recession.
The secret, says Gawker owner Nick Denton in the memo, has been those big, bold site-skinnings that look like this, the one they did for HBO show “Entourage”:
So how do you sell-out like Gawker media? We talked to Terri Walter and Sarah Baehr, two VPs from ad agency Razorfish, and they shared some advice for publishers looking to create and sell premium inventory:
- Quit thinking about advertising as something that belongs on the periphery of your site. Package your unit as a “sponsorship.” Advertisers love to convey the feeling that your brilliant content is “brought to you by” their brand clients. “Sponsorships will always be valuable,” said Terri.
- Here’s are two words Terri and Sarah love to use: “personalisation” and “depth.”
- A premium ad unit needs premium content (and a premium sales force to push it). Terri: “The publishers that are having problems are the ones that haven’t invested enough in their content or their ad sales team.”
- Speaking of your ad sales force, Sarah says publishers need to make sure their sales forces are armed with more than just comScore numbers. To create a unique ad unit, an agency needs to know what’s special about how your readers/users interact with your content. The agency will only figure that out if your sales people explain it to them. Says Sarah: “I can’t tell you why users like your site. If you can’t help me leverage your site in a unique way, I’ll find some one else.”
- Prepare to hand over lots of real estate. Terri and Sarah love what MSNBC did with its “push-down” Olympics ads last summer.
- Finally, once you’ve sold them, get comfortable with handing over control to the advertisers. Terri says publishers “have to be open to letting us lead.”