The shift of media and the advertising dollars with it


The shift of media and the advertising dollars with it

While print ads have been staple to advertisers for hundreds of years, there’s been an inherent problem with its’ effectiveness. Regardless of the publication, marketers who use print to promote their products have battled the same 900 pound elephant in the room; measuring ROI. In the past several years, online media has offered an alternative platform for marketers to promote their products and services, and with it, a promise of highly targeted, closely measurable campaigns. While many savvy marketers have shifted most, if not all of their ad budgets online, the majority of advertising dollars still reside in print publications. As media continues to move online, the advertising dollars with it are still very slow to follow, which is setting the stage for an interesting paradigm shift over the course of the next few years. Nearly all of the campaigns we run to promote eDirectory are done online.

As a marketer, web banners, email newsletter sponsorships and email blasts provide keen insight into the success of our messages, our offers and how responsive a given audience is to that message and offer. How many people saw the ad? How many people clicked on it? Of those people, how many people came to my website?

Which pages did they click on when they were there and at what point did they abandon the site? How many people opened my email, how many people that opened that email came to my site, downloaded a whitepaper or furthermore, how many people bought our software because of that ad? The ways to break down and dissect the numbers into cost per lead, cost per conversion, cost per click—they’re all limitless. In print, however, the only concrete number is circulation.

While Magazine X may say their circulation is 100,000, I have no way of knowing howmany people picked up and read that magazine, or for that matter, even saw my ad, let alone came to my website or called me because of it. The best I can do is ask each lead where they heard of us, either by phone or in an email form, and studies show that this information is 25% accurate at best. It isn’t that newspaper and magazine advertising isn’t feasible—it just became significantly less feasible when online advertising became more prominent. It now pales in comparison. So, online media is becoming more favorable than print, nothing too profound in that.

What is profound is the way in which it’s making its’ migration. While people prefer to view their content online, the companies who are putting money into advertising dollars don’t seem quite as eager to migrate…yet. Print circulation for nearly every major publication like the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today and the New York times continues to decline quarter by quarter.

In 2008, the Washington Post reported that it’s newspaper publishing revenue stood at $232.6 million dollars, while accounted for $33.7 million of its’ revenue. Between 2007 to 2009, their print circulation dropped ~7%. In Q3 of 2009, their newspaper revenue dropped 20% and their print ad revenue declined 28%, respectively.

One steady increase to their bottom line has been their online advertising revenue, increasing 13% in Q3. An article published by Scott Karp in 2007 tracked similar, but even more drastic trends with the New York Times, which reported that while 90% of its’ readership is online, the ad revenue from the New York Times only contributes to 10% of their bottom line — perfectly inverse economics.

So what does all this mean? Well, as you can see, print circulation is down, but the advertising dollars associated with those print publications are still very much to follow. The medium to which the vast majority of readers are using to access content is online, but many advertisers are still throwing money into print. While it may be a gradual, more ad dollars will soon be shifting online, in what some reports have estimated to be $65 billion on the next few years.

In short, people are about to get a great deal smarter with the way they market their products and with the progression of web 2.0 technologies, aggregators and other prominent internet platforms, a great deal of that ad revenue is up for grabs.

The horizon looks bright. A Tsunami of ad dollars are going to roll up on the shores of site owners in the years to come, but monetizing that site to capture a piece of the money that will shift from print to online is the biggest hurdle publishers, site owners, entrepreneurs and businesses face right now. There are few things to consider when structuring or restructuring a site to attract advertising dollars.

Internet users are inherently lazy

No shocker here. Why do people like RSS feeds? Because it means they don’t have to find the information, it’s sent directly to them. Why do people like social networks? It allows them to interact with millions of people under one roof, as opposed to interact with them separately in segmented arenas. Why do people like Priceline and Orbitz? Because it sure beats going to 37 different websites searching for airlines, hotels and car rentals.

Why do people like Kayak even more? Because it sure beats going to Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, Expedia and Hotwire.

Profitable sites provide one of two things to a lazy internet browser: Informational Resource or Entertainment. Think of nearly any successful website in the world and it provides one, if not both of those components. Why do people read Because for some, it’s entertaining.

Why is there so much buzz around local search directories? Because they provide an all-encompassing informational resource that has everything under one roof including restaurant menus, reviews, business listings, classifieds, events and more.

Think Niche

If online media promises marketers a highly targeted, stringently profiled advertising platform, the more targeted and profiled, the more confidence marketers should have in their ability to reach their target audience.

Because of this, you’re seeing several niche, focused sites developing for every one broad, general print publication. Many print publications subject matter is spread wide, but thin, so their depth is extremely limited.

They often scratch the surface at a wide array of subject matter, providing marketers with a more generalized, ambiguous vehicle to advertise on. When the ad dollars come flowing to online platforms, and with anticipating $65 billion in the next few years, the most successful sites will provide unparalleled depth. Let’s take an example of a hypothetical hockey magazine. This magazine may keep up on trades, feature player profiles, new equipment lines, scouting reports, trade rumors and more. In the online world, site owners are cashing in on developing high depth, narrow focus site content on each of these topics.

hockey magazine

The online publications cover the same content as their print competitor, but provide a great deal more depth of information. By doing this, they provide a more molded visitor profile to advertisers. So when CCM, one of hockey’s biggest equipment manufacturers, are evaluating their media buys, they know that their advertisements on hockey gear are targeting men between the ages of 14-45, 64% of whom are looking to buy new hockey equipment in the next six months.

This is something print publications simply can’t offer. Well designed sites will offer this level of micro-targeted advertising, and marketers will come to expect this from their advertisers. In the end most super niche, narrow focused sites will be the ones cashing in on the advertising dollar shift.

Let’s put it in an example of local search. Let’s say I’m a restaurant owner the DC metro area, specifically in Alexandria VA. I’m looking to increase my business visibility by running a few ads in various print and online publications. I have a few options to consider:

wash post

Notice how all of these publications are broken into three tiers. In the first tier, we see DC metro-wide publications like the Washington Post. One level below that is a list of publications that cover the entire Northern Virginia region of DC. The final tier shows those publications dedicated solely to the Alexandria VA region, where my restaurant is located. While circulation/site traffic and costs of running ads have to be considered in all this, as a marketer, my ad dollars are best spent on the bottom tier.

All of these publications are those either printed and distributed in the Alexandria VA region, or even better, are sites people come to who are actively searching for restaurants, shops, events and business in Old Town Alexandria. This is as close to target audience as I can get and I can’t ask for more relevance in those I’m marketing to. This is why local search sites are becoming so successful, because they offer local small businesses highly targeted, affordable advertising platforms.

While the Washington Post may boast a circulation 50x that of some of the more niche publications in Alexandria VA, I don’t know how many people are picking up the Washington Post in Northern Virginia area, or how many people in Alexandria for that matter.

Furthermore, the Washington Post can’t tell me how many people are picking up their paper in the Alexandria area looking for local restaurants. This is the future of advertising. Successful site owners will create sites that offer the most finely targeted audience coupled with the most highly concentrated content as possible.

Whether you’re looking to start a local search directory in a town of only 20,000 people, a product directory or buyers’ guide, it’s important to develop a product that is informational or entertaining and moreover, one that easily distinguishes its’ benefits from its’ print competitors. Think niche and aggressively push your product onto your space and you’re bound to create an enviable advertising vehicle for businesses.

Interested in developing a profitable directory? Want to discuss ideas about how to better monetize your existing site? Call or send us an email, we would love to hear it from you.

Starting an Online Business – How to position yourself for success


Starting an Online Business – How to position yourself for success

People always ask me. “What kind of revenue are your clients making?” or “How many clients are successful?” “How do I know your software will help me succeed?” The honest answer is, “I don’t know.” We do have successful clients, most of whom have the white labeled version of our software which serves as a confidentiality agreement, so we can’t share their site info.

We do have successful clients, but they don’t disclose their revenue to us. Does Microsoft call up everyone that buys Office and ask “How many deals did you close using PowerPoint for your sales presentations? “The truth of the matter is that we don’t provide software that will make you money.

We provide software to create sites that we KNOW can be profitable, and that software makes it significantly easier for people to develop said sites, and make money accordingly. We’re not the answer to everyone’s prayers, but I assure you, we’re working on that, too.

We’re right in the middle of a really exciting time to start on online business. It’s quite possible that someone has said that nearly every day since the dawn of the internet, but it seems as though the best is still very much ahead of us. Whether you’re thinking about starting a blog, a directory, an e-commerce site, or a media outlet, there are lots of  pportunities to be successful. Why? A few critical things are happening that are opening up huge opportunities to get started online:

Media is moving from print to online as the preferred medium for media, but the advertising
dollars are still slow to follow.

When moving from print to online, many publications are morphing into several, more focused, niche sites, some of which haven’t even been developed yet.

Marketers don’t yet realize how spoiled they’re about to become. The mediums for which we are viewing content now—social networking sites, blogs, news aggregators, directories are offering such a hyper-targeted profiled platform for advertisers to market to that wasn’t remotely available in print.

Web 2.0 and social networking is allowing people to connect to others in ways that are not otherwise possible.

Accessing these social networking sites and developing blogs is easier than ever. Technology is no longer a barrier to entry.

These are all components that make developing an online business easier. You have the platform, you have the ears and eyes, and best of all, you have the megaphone to connect your product to the people who would be most interested in seeing it. Fifteen years ago, platforms that would allow you to connect to tens of thousands of people who are passionate about Door Knockers as you are didn’t exist.

We are changing the way we access and view information. With this, there are a few things I always tell our clients are a must when it comes to being successful with their online directories.

Be passionate about what you’re pursuing

Some of the most successful clients we have took something they were passionate about and ran with it. When you’re passionate about something, it’s not seen as work, and when it’s not work, you can spend all day doing it. (Some of this is pulled from Web 2.0 Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, “Crush It.” In addition to this brief whitepaper, I highly recommend you pick this book up if you’re looking to start an online business. The guy has a proven track record at making his sites takeoff.) The thing that a lot of people don’t realize is the small, quirky things that you may be extremely knowledgeable or passionate about is shared by thousands, or potentially millions of other people.

Twenty years ago, you had no way of knowing exactly how many people were out there reading up on the same things you were, or collecting the same type of novelties that you were. Now, I can guarantee you that when someone is looking for the best selection and reviews of Lion Head door knockers, they’re going to your site over Elle Décor magazine any day of the week.

Why? Because you’re focused, you’re niche and you’re the most passionate and knowledgeable person on the web and that focus is the mentality of the web over the next few years. These are the opportunities that are out there in starting an online business, and while it may not be the precident now, over the next few years, marketers will rely on niche focused, detailed profile sites to spend their marketing dollars.

Real world example — eDirectory clients will express concern to me when they’re developing a local search site. They fear that Yelp will overshadow their site and that with sites such as Yelp out there, local search directories are obsolete. This is far from the truth, and there are a few reasons why.

While Yelp has been at the fore front of driving local search, there are a few things well designed local search sites offer that Yelp doesn’t and it’s rooted in the passion of that local search site owner.

Local search and city site owners are passionate about their community, excited about what it offers and even more excited to share that information with others. Sadly, to Yelp, your city is just another datapoint in a database full of millions of businesses, and your city
is just another source of revenue for the behemoth site. Here’s what I mean: Go to Yelp and search for businesses in your local area. You’ll find that while Yelp covers most of the businesses in any given area, there are a good chunk of them that go under the radar and aren’t included. After all, Yelp can’t keep up when one businesses closes its’ doors and another one opens.

A good local search directory is the pulse of that community. It keeps up to date on what businesses are doing, promotions they’re running, restaurant specials, happy hours, drink specials, all things that Yelp doesn’t cover. What about events or breaking news happening in your community, festivals, and events?

These are all elements people look for in a true local search site that aren’t offered on portals like Yelp. If you pursue your passion with your site, the opportunities are endless.

Know your space

A lot of people develop a site without scoping out their competitors well enough. This seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people develop a product that’s a few years late on the market, over priced and lacks half the features as the blockbuster. While there is room in almost every market for similar businesses, it’s important to leverage what your competition doesn’t do well into your value proposition (This is detailed a little more in “Selling a Directory”).

This goes hand in hand with the section above. If you’re not familiar with what you’re getting into, and you’re not passionate about the subject matter, it’s difficult to have the knowledge and energy to drive your business forward.

Know what you’re getting into, and make a name for yourself in that space. Much of developing an online business is learning, but it’s vitally important to go in with a strategy, continually test that strategy, and refine it based on what you find.

You’d be surprised how many people buy software, load listings, or get a blog started, make posts, and wait for the money to roll in, and wonder why they aren’t successful. It’s a constant hustle. Taking any business off the ground, especially one whose success depends on a strong online presence is extremely difficult. If you’re getting into a market where your competitors have already established a presence, you probably see an opportunity to make a business that is stronger than those around you, which should be built into your value proposition.

Why are you doing it better than the next person? What makes your site better than the next? These seem like empty questions, but there will come a day when you’ve built your site up to a point where you’re negotiating with an advertiser, or they’re evaluating multiple products and they’re going to ask you, “What makes your site more valuable than

Why shouldn’t we buy his product, or advertise on her site?” When that time comes, its importable to be able to distinguish the differences eloquently and smoothly. Those differences are what drove you to start your online business, they drove you to continue when you wanted to throw in the towel, and when all is said and done, will make you as successful as the next guy.

The best recommendation I give eDirectory users when they’re developing their site is to conduct extensive amounts of competitive intelligence. Know who your primary competitors are in the space, and additionally, those whose focus may overlap with yours, even if it’s only a little bit. Make a chart with each of your competitors in a column at the top, and a feature on each row. What do your competitors offer that you don’t? What do you plan to offer that they don’t? At the end of the day, you’ll have a chart with a series of X’s and O’s and it will paint the picture of what you need to do more effectively, and what can potentially put you ahead of the person next to you.

Competitive Intelligence is an ongoing practice. Just as it’s important to develop fresh new content, it’s equally as important to keep track of what others are doing to get ahead. That foresight, the ability to read the battle field and move around the way the market is shifting is extremely critical to achieving growth. Look at the AT&T / Verizon battle. Verizon knew that while it didn’t have progressive technology like the iPhone with elaborate apps, its approach was “What good is fancy phone when you can’t use it” and went after AT&T on their spotty cell phone coverage.

Verizon forced AT&T’s hand and accordingly, Verizon was able to turn the tables, and to an extent, and control what issues were at the forefront for consumers. Nearly all AT&T and Verizon commercials are all about “Coverage” and “There’s a map for that,” which was a battle in which Verizon instigated, and seemingly is winning.

Never stop working

Field of Dreams left out a few good pieces of advice in, “If you build it, they will come.” It’s more like “If you build it, and work really hard to refine it, and hustle every day to find people who would benefit from accessing it, and develop content that isn’t available elsewhere, then they will come.”

The biggest hardship we experience as a company is handling clients who think once they buy our software, traffic will flood in and money will start growing on trees. Not going to happen. It takes aninordinate amount of work to be successful in the world of online media, but luckily, social media has made the “hustle” significantly easier. Fifteen years ago, there weren’t social networking or media sites that allowed you to connect with millions of people around the world.

Social networking and web 2.0 technologies have given you the opportunity to easily connect to people who share similar interests that you do. Let’s go back to the example of Door Knockers, because if I can get away with using this example, it’s hard not to think that these principles can’t be applied to nearly anything across the board?

Twitter, Tumbler, Facebook, Myspace —- these are tools right at your fingertips to connect to the millions of people that share your passions. In a simple Google Search, I found a Flickr group with 746 members who have posted 6,504 pictures of door knockers, a facebook group, a facebook ap, twitter chatter and more. Your audience is there for the taking. Not only can you find your audience through a simple search, making connections through people who share the same passion as you is simple. On facebook, you can advertise within a 10 mile radius of your targeted demographic, or prompt advertisements based on keywords, activities or hobbies in peoples profile.

These are people who will compose your active readership, help drive your content and help shape your business. With such easy access to your audience, you should set quantitative goals each and every day.

An example:

• 20 new facebook fans everyday
• 10 new twitter followers
• 5 new back links a week

If these goals become too easy, push yourself and increase them to a point where they become difficult to achieve. Goals like these help grow your audience, increase search traffic, and it’s your obligation to keep them engaged. An audience, whether it be an e-newsletter circulation, web traffic or twitter followers, is hands down the most vital component of an online business.

Without an audience, your business is worthless to advertisers. It’s hard to develop an audience, but if you work hard to pursue the audience, and provide them with top notch content, it will come along the way. There’s no cruise control in most online businesses, and once you have developed an audience, it’s equally as important that you continuously deliver fresh information.

If you’re not constantly enhancing your content, aggressively pursuing potential audience members or out there on the ground level shaking hands and meeting people, you’re not working hard enough.Success in this space requires hard work, not investors, expensive equipment or money out of your own pocket.

 Develop a valuable resource

Think of your top 5 favorite sites. Think of the several ones you go to in the morning and check out when you get your day going, or as the day goes on. What about these sites brings you crawling back to them every day? What about them makes you tick? What is their focus? Who do they appeal to and why?

Some of the most successful and upcoming sites are so niche focused, but push content that is so unique, it’s easy to see how open the game is to everyone out there.

When you get the opportunity, take a look at some of the following sites and take a moment to think why they’re as successful as they are.

They’re focus is so thin, but their content is so rich, it’s no wonder why they’ve grown into a 1,000,000 + page views a month sites.


Your online business should be put through the same fire. Aside from comedic value in some cases, what content will you offer that I can’t find elsewhere? How are you going to consistently connect that content with your audience? Across what mediums?

Learning from others who took the plunge

While I wasn’t there to frivolously follow each of the sites I’m about to highlight, all of them have one thing in common. Much of their successes have one thing in common; they followed most, if not all of the sections above and crushed it. They’ve taken their passions to the web, leveraged web 2.0 applications, developed a quality resource for others, and found success in doing so. Many people get into what they do purely for passion, and success often comes years later. Derek Rocco and Adam Caldwell started several years ago, recapping and previewing each and every
Pittsburgh Penguins game over the course of the year.

At the start, they didn’t have many readers, and that didn’t matter to them because they were covering a subject they lived and breathed –Penguins hockey. As their writing skills developed, and the Penguins saw increased success with the draft of Sidney Crosby among others, and their blog slowly became the go-to source for Penguins coverage.

While they aren’t reputable journalist, their appeal is mostly rooted in their unique content, otherwise not available in city papers. With a touch of vulgarity, off topic Photoshop exposés, embedded media clips and a slew of mid 80s wrestling references, the site has developed a cult like following that is unparalleled in other sports blogs in the city. They are averaging 640,000 page views a month, and roughly 20,000 unique visitors to the site.

They’ve recently crowned ThePensblog into a Limited Liability Corporation ,and only years after spending each and every day pursuing a lifelong passion, they’re about to cash in on the site traffic they’ve cultivated recently. Derek and Adam are crushing it doing something they love and money became only a secondary appeal to them.

The last story was covered in Vaynerchuk’s book, “Crushing It.” is owned by Zach Brooks. Zach is passionate about street food and turned his passion into a lucrative website. He covers six blocks of street food in Manhattan. A directory of vendor food, Zach avidly covers what is going on in the world of street food in midtown. He’s constantly visiting vendors, reviewing new food, documenting changes, highlighting new options, and he’s crushing it. Vaynerchuk claims Brooks is bringing in $70,000 + in this site. 6 Blocks, $70,000…. I don’t think any one story can document the success to be had in an online business than

The fact of the matter is, these are a few steps and a few stories to the development of a successful online business.

As I mentioned in the beginning, no one has the single key to developing a successful site, but in a world carried by social media, there have come to surface a series of distinct, formulaic approaches to getting your site off the ground. If you’re not willing to put the work in it takes to grow your business, it’s going to flop.

Take a look at some of the cases and sites mentioned throughout this whitepaper and continue to reflect on the sites that get you through your day. Pick them apart, peel back their covers and think like an online guru. What makes them tick? What is their appeal? What about these sites keep bringing you back for more? There is nothing standing between you and the ability to funnel your passion into a successful online business.

Interested in talking about your business ideas? Have an idea and want to talk strategy? Walking away with questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Online Directories: The next big media vehicle for advertising agencies?

iphone-in-handOnline Directories: The next big media vehicle for advertising agencies?

As many publishers are scrambling to transition their publication to an online format, or at the very least offer a digital version of their publication, something should be said for the changes that we’re undergoing in the way we search, find and gather information. Saying that the world is moving more and more online is nothing prolific, it’s been in the works for the last fifteen years. But to think the print industry, dominated by paper-back books, grocery store gossip magazines and blockbuster papers like the Times, are re-inventing the wheel makes one wonder what bigger impact this might be having on all of us.

These publications set the standard on where and how people got their information. Need to find a business, open the yellow pages; want news, pick up the Times or Post. The yellow pages, perhaps one of the most staple print publications in circulation today is now planting its’ feet in the sand as a primarily an online information source. News aggregators like Digg and Reddit have revolutionized the way we read our daily news.

Where we used to browse several news sources to get different stories, aggregators pull together the best content from hundreds of news providers. This isn’t just the industry moving from print to online. The online world is embracing new mediums for publishing information, one of those being online directories and portals.

Let’s face it, we’re changing the way we search for and gather information and more importantly, we as consumers, buyers or readers are becoming considerably more demanding when it comes to the way we access that information. We’ve come to expect our data to be compiled, aggregated and presented in the most user friendly and time efficient manner possible and for many companies out there, there’s lots of catching up to do.

The pace of these changes will have several major implications for Web Designers, Developers, or even Advertising Agencies that offer those services. To date, over 25% of eDirectory’s business comes from Advertising Agencies or Web Design/Development shops. More and more companies are relying on ad agencies and interactive designers to develop blogs, networking sites and directories that provide easily accessible and centralized data.

Online Yellow pages, city guides, local search, business directories, product directories – all becoming more popular mediums for businesses to develop and publish content. Simply put, the ability to develop and design online directories is becoming yet another tool in the belt of agencies that stay on top of new media and technology. Twelve years ago there weren’t many companies developing sites in Flash. Today, you’d question their credibility if they didn’t have a designer inhouse with that capability.

At that same time banners were 728×90 leaderboards, sky scrapers or boxes, today there’s prestitials, interstitials and peel backs. The most successful advertising agencies are those that can keep up with the direction of online media. Given the current rave around SEO and SEM, and an online directory’s ability to account for great success in both of these arenas, electronic directories may very well be a primary advertising vehicle for most businesses in the near future.

There is, however, another opportunity for Ad Agencies and Web Designers to develop directories themselves and put into place an additional, and substantial revenue stream.

When it comes to the client base of agencies we’ve worked with in the past, we’ve found they can be categorized in one of three groups. In one scenario, the agency’s customers consist mostly of local, small companies as the agency themselves are small as well. If the agency or design company is located in Kearney Nebraska, most of their clients are stores, shops or businesses within Kearney. The second type of organization we’ve worked with has a strong industry focus.

For instance, some agencies only work with Pharma or Biotech companies, or another client of ours, for example only works with hospitality companies while the remaining group has no limitations, geographically or otherwise, on their client base.

For companies whose scope is more limited, directories often times offer your clients an excellent arena for marketing. If an agency caters more to local businesses, a city guide, or local search directory provides an enticing and powerful advertising vehicle to your client. For example, if you’re doing a website for Joe’s Computer shop in Kearney Nebraska, it would be a lucrative opportunity to also offer Joe advertising space in

This provides a more holistic service to your client to help establish their presence on the web and helps their business gain visibility to prospective customers. The more local clients that you serve locally, the more powerful an offering a local search directory becomes.You don’t have to serve local businesses to effectively leverage a directory for your customers. As you learn more about marketing an online directory, you’ll learn that
a narrow, niche focus accounts for sites that are the most successful. Agencies that only concentrate, for example, in life sciences or software solutions have a highly targeted client base. Developing a directory of different CRO (contract research organization) services for biotech companies makes for a great addition to any campaign the agency is working on the client with. Alternatively, a product directory, where an organization can
list and promote their customers’ products provide unparalleled visibility for their software and services.

A site like Capterra is regarded as the Kelly Blue Book for businesses shopping for software. If, as an interactive agency, your business has a niche focus and limits its’ services to a select group of companies, leverage the narrow focus and industry knowledge to develop product directories or service directories. This provides not
only a valuable resource to your advertiser, but it also opens up another stream of recurring revenue for your organization.

If you have any questions, or would like to further discuss how to improve the way you’re marketing or selling your directory, we would welcome a phone call or e-mail anytime.