Why Do Newspapers Make It So Difficult To Advertise On Their Websites?

from the not-getting-it dept

By now, most newspapers have recognized that they need an online strategy -- even if many are struggling to realize that this means a lot more than just throwing their news articles online. Case in point: even once they're online, most newspapers still make you go through the process of talking to a human and signing a deal before you can advertise on their website. This, despite the fact that so many other online-only properties now have a nearly totally automated process for advertisers to sign up, upload (or create) creatives, and have the advertisements go live. Newspapers need to realize that going online isn't just about the medium, but taking advantage of what that medium allows.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2008 @ 5:33pm


    While I agree with the sentiment behind this post, I did actually laugh at the idea that "talking to a human" is now a bad thing when it comes to internet dealings.

    Not because I think that talking to a real person is more efficient, or that I miss the "good ole days" or anything, but just because about 10-20 years ago, people were worried that humans would eventually be taken out of the equation, and that this would be bad.

    I find the reversal of opinion amusing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, 27 Feb 2008 @ 5:47pm

    It's not the talking to a human

    It's the stupid routine their answering software puts you thru.
    "pay attention because our menu has changed"
    "say or enter your blah blah blah"

    if pressing zero doesn't get you a human, eventually you just hang up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Iron Chef, 27 Feb 2008 @ 6:43pm

    I like pressing Zero

    When we start regularly getting newspaper ads like this can we even start re-evaluating newspaper ad acquisition processes.

    Today, it's too difficult, and the funny folks along with the serious folks use Craigslist.

    Sorry printed text, even you Wall Street Journal. I read you in my email before you get to my doorstep..

    Yikes! Rupert Murdoch seems to know something here. You best listen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 27 Feb 2008 @ 7:45pm

    Maybe the newspapers are keeping quality of service by not letting any random scam company run some ads on their website.

    God forbid you should have to speak with a human, Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sal, 27 Feb 2008 @ 8:25pm


      Having a human filter out any inapropriate ads is much more efficient than submitting through one. Mike's points are there are better, more efficient ways to do business, and it is a really good idea to make it as easy as possible to get paid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ehrichweiss, 28 Feb 2008 @ 6:42am

        Re: Re:

        As someone who worked in the newspaper business until about 3 months ago, I can safely say you don't understand newspapers' advertisers. They are what make it so damn difficult, not the newspapers themselves. Each one has stipulations about their ads and won't pay you a dollar if you goof up even once.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trerro, 27 Feb 2008 @ 8:36pm

    You can still review...

    Paul, he's not saying to make the system actually run the ad with no approval, just to make it so SUBMITTING the ad requires nothing but a web form. This way, the user has his ad ready to go in a minute or two, and then later in the day gets a quick email informing him the ad will be run, or that it won't be and why. This allows the newspaper to screen ads just as much as they always have, but saves the advertiser a 45 minute phone call, waiting on hold, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ehrichweiss, 28 Feb 2008 @ 6:46am

      Re: You can still review...

      Believe it or not, those who have already been traditionally using newspapers for advertisements actually *prefer* to call and speak to someone rather than fill out a form. Trust me on this one, I just had to put a newspaper's telephone number in 80 pt type all over the front page of a newspaper's site at the publisher's request because she got lots of email telling her they couldn't figure out how to use a simple email web form.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mike allen, 28 Feb 2008 @ 1:34am

    talking to a human

    is fine you know who to blame when things go wrong a computer can never be wrong......... can it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ehrichweiss, 28 Feb 2008 @ 6:39am


    I'm guessing you've never worked in the paper publishing business, Mike. There are advertisers who will refuse to allow their ads to be displayed on or opposite of a page that mentions, say, tobacco, or they want their advert placed in a certain section, or a million and one other possibilities.

    I don't understand why that is myself, mind you, but that *is* the newspaper business as I've experienced it over the past 7+ years at this point. There are a lot of other things you won't understand either like why some of the content producers(articles, comics, astrology, etc.) won't let you publish their work on your site that receives less than 1,000 not-necessarily-unique visits every week but you maintain 50,000 print readers and you can print it.

    Newspapers, as businesses, would not exist if everyone actually understood from where their worth is actually derived.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dex, 28 Feb 2008 @ 8:31am

    Lots of point-missing here

    Ehrichweiss, you've missed the point on three separate posts. Congrats on the trifecta.

    No one is saying eliminate human intervention entirely. If your big advertisers prefer to work through a human, let them. But how many potential advertisers are being missed because they don't want to deal with that hassle? Make a web-based form, but leave the option to work with a person. Hell, you could even charge a premium for the human touch.

    There, I've just given you a new, revenue-enhancing business model. I won't even patent it; use it with my blessing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ehrichweiss, 28 Feb 2008 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Lots of point-missing here

      I'm not missing the point at all. Congrats on not understanding the business, and congrats on your own trifecta.

      Sadly, what you don't realize is that web revenue makes up **fractions of pennies** compared to what is brought in through print advertising and many/most web adverts are actually offered as "value-added" to the print publications since the overall revenue from the web barely covers the bandwidth charges.

      A single full-page advert will bring in more revenue in a single issue than any sized web advert would bring in over the course of a year, and selling a page full of smaller adverts can almost double the revenue for that page. You can't fill an online page with adverts(ie no content) and then suspect to maintain a readership for very long.

      Why would a newspaper add a new department that would need to integrate the web with their print advertising for something that won't even cover its cost to setup much less to maintain the employees who run it, etc.? If they were web-based then that might make sense but they're not and paying to create a system that is only going to slow production down and/or add cost isn't going to be looked at as generously as you would like to presume.

      Worrying about webverts when you're in the print business is like jumping over dollars to pickup dimes. It seems like real money to you folks but it would barely cover the cost of toilet paper in the long run.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 28 Feb 2008 @ 1:52pm

    Automated System: Hello, welcome to AT&T's customer support line! In a few words, please tell me the purpose of your call. You can say things like "I'd like to pay my bill" or "I need technical support". Ok, go ahead.

    Me: I have a question about my bill.

    AS: It sounds like you'd like to pay your bill, is this correct?

    Me: No

    AS: Sorry, my mistake. Please tell me the purpose of your call.

    Me: I have a question about my bill.

    AS: Let's try this another way...

    Me: Customer support.

    AS: In order to connect you to the proper support department, I need to know why you're calling...


    AS: Please hold while I connect your call.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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