Small newspaper accounts get help

American newspapers have traditionally served local advertisers with low cost space ads. Now they can offer them the online equivalent--ads that can be purchased and placed at the sites for as low as $80 for a 20,000 impression run.

Major American newspapers are working with Amazing Media, a company that has automated online advertising by providing a way for small advertisers to order, create and place online ads at participating sites. Amazing Media doesn't work exclusively with newspaper sites, but they are among the forerunners because the product is ideal for small local advertisers who can benefit from the opportunity.

Washingtonpost.com uses Amazing Media on its real estate page where local realtors can target ads to specific neighborhoods. Visitors to the page click an icon that takes them to the Amazing Media page where they can order, create and place the ads and pay for any number of impressions with a credit card. "It's one more way we are trying to add innovation and creativity to online advertising for local clients. It's a cost efficient way to address the smaller needs of our clients," says Don Marshall, Washington Post Newsweek Interactive director of communications. "It gives clients maximum flexibility to create, traffic and pay for it online and change it when they need to without having to go through a middle person."

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Not having to go through a middle person means ads can be created and bought without an agency.

Washingtonpost.com decided to use Amazing Media on the real estate page because of the narrow targeting, Marshall says. Plus, "the real estate market in DC is pretty hot and strong and there's a lot of interest in advertising on the site."

Sfgate.com, the Web site of the San Francisco Chronicle, offers Amazing Media to all kinds of advertisers, with an offer on the home page. Robert Cauthorn, vice president of digital media, says carpet cleaners, spas and "all kinds of small and regional businesses have used it." He says it can be ideal for impulse purchases, such as night clubs or bars that want to advertise one night events. "There are different options about time, they can purchase short term ads," he says. "We're getting ready to launch individual one day purchases."

Advertisers can buy a variety of ads through Amazing Media, which vary by site. Traditional banners are offered as well as Skyscrapers and other large size units. The banners are interactive, allowing visitors to Washingtonpost.com, for instance, to click lines on the banner to get specific property information, such as the number of bedroom and bathrooms in a house for sale.

The ads go for as little as $80 for a small run, which is ideal for small advertisers. It provides incremental revenue for the sites, and revenue they might not otherwise get since their sales staffs generally work on larger accounts.

"It gives advertisers a place to begin advertising and stretch their media dollar," Cauthorn says. "It's been a modest success. We've had a substantial indication of advertiser satisfaction. They keep coming back."

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