Retaining Advertisers when there is nothing to Advertise

Retaining Advertisers when there is nothing to Advertise
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The newspaper industry continues to be uprooted by the COVID-19 outbreak as publications world-wide are losing advertisers left, right and center while businesses look to cut costs. With little going on in terms of community happenings or events, and most businesses forced to close their doors to the public, retaining advertisers or attracting new ones seems like a daunting task.

However, you can still use your leverage as a source of information and a pillar of your community to entice advertisers to stay on board or attract new clients.

Our-Hometown CEO Matt Larson recently discussed retaining advertisers during the pandemic with Guy Roginson, Executive Director of, who has shared a few insights with us in the videos below.

Promoting Community First

One advantage you have as a newspaper in a time of crisis is that readers are looking for trusted, reliable information. Whether that means visiting your website or picking up a copy of your paper at a newsstand, chances are that if you’re providing local or regional coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve seen a spike in readership. Be it digital or print, the idea of running an ad with an uptick in viewership should be tempting to some advertisers, even if you have to offer the space at a discounted rate.

In the video above, Guy discusses the importance of helping the community with his COVID-19 Business Updates page. The major takeaway is that SignalsAZ and Guy are really focusing on developing relationships with their clients by offering affordable services to help bridge the gap between businesses and consumers, such as charging only a moderate $25 for a listing on the aforementioned Business Updates page.

Essentially, they are gaining marketshare by acting as a community service. While Guy acknowledges that they don’t make much of a profit on some of these services, they are growing trust and strengthening relationships with clients so that when things are back to normal, they’ll have a number of strong leads to follow up with.

Sponsored Content

Another technique Matt & Guy discussed is using Sponsored Content, or allowing local businesses to either publish their own content or “sponsor” existing content. Knowing that the community is looking to your publication as a source of information, businesses should jump at the opportunity to sponsor your “COVID-19 Coverage” and have their ad included on any COVID-related articles on your website. Of course, it isn’t limited to COVID-19 articles — you could also recruit sponsors for breaking news, employment and volunteer opportunities, or kids pages — things that the general public will have a higher-than-usual interest in.

For businesses who are willing and able to provide their own content for publishing, they’re able to take advantage of SignalsAZ‘s traffic and build up their reputation as a leader in whatever industry they represent.

In the video above, Guy notes that the largest automotive dealership in the area elected to sponsor his business directory, uniting for the common goal of getting this critical information out to the public.

The Metrics Advantage

Of course, one large advantage that your website has over your printed newspaper is that everything is measurable. General website stats like visitors and pageviews are available through our stats website, while advertising metrics like impressions and CTRs are recorded within the AdRotate Pro plugin included on our platform. The ability to deliver these statistics directly to clients allows them to see the value of advertising on your website and justify spending those dollars with you.

Utilize Emerging Technologies

With many Americans forced to work remotely from home, we’ve been seeing digital technologies used in unique ways that were not really considered before. For example, musicians who are unable to go on tour are using livestreaming services like Twitch or Instagram Live to broadcast live performances where fans are able to donate. Church services, likewise, are being broadcast online with webinar/conferencing software like Zoom.

Of course, not everyone has the resources to begin producing live web content out of the blue, but you could help individuals and organizations spread their content by featuring web “events” like these that are relevant to your area or community.

In the video above, Guy references another digital service that his publication provides — data & leads collection. In this case, they’ve ran a story about a real estate developer who began construction on a major housing project. The story contains a simple form for those who are interested in more information about the project to fill out. This data will be passed along to the client so that once the new properties are available for rent, they’ll have hundreds of high-quality leads to explore.

Promote Staying Visible

Even if a business is unable to open or operate regularly, they won’t want to be invisible during the pandemic. As the old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind” — No business wants to be out of the mind of the community, especially since we have no real idea how long this could go on for.

A restaurant could benefit from an ad letting the community know if they are open for takeout, because many people may have simply assumed they are closed entirely. Businesses could also advertise gift certificates or special offers to entice people to come back once they’re able to re-open. The idea is staying visible. Even a simple message letting the community know that we’re all in this together could go along way for a local business.

When this is all over with, there will be a resurgence of American spirit, and consumers will remember the businesses that were there for them, and for their local newspapers, when times were tough.


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