Josh Martin, vice president of ID Media and its director of emerging media, says "it's a new kind of buying mechanism modeled after DRTV and online performance-based models, paying very close attention to performance and ROI." Martin believes it's a way to target small-business decision makers with limited financial risk, "since we only pay when a publication performs."
According to Martin, advertisers pay out cost-per-action fees over time, as the campaign's performance is continually measured.
The partnership has already produced one "cost-per-action" campaign featuring four-color direct response ads for a financial services provider. In that campaign, Martin said direct response was measured through several unique phone numbers "to find out which specific vertical categories work better."
Depending on the needs of advertisers, the cost-per-action metric could be based on simple expressions of interest or completion of the sales process. In the future, Martin said measurement could also involve sending consumers to a specific URL.
Martin added that the model allows advertisers to combine a number of smaller publications for a large aggregate reach with a single ad buy. As the new service gains traction, Cygnus may also begin offering linked print-and-online buys, including the trade publications' Web sites and email newsletters.
Altogether, through 175 media products, Cygnus reaches about 15 million readers annually, many in the manufacturing, technology and building trades. However, only 67 print trade publications are currently involved in the cost-per-action program.
In recent years, a number of companies have experimented with ways to make print advertising measurable on a cost-per-action basis. In January 2006, Google began selling print ads in the Chicago Sun-Times, expanding the test phase in July of this year to include 225 newspapers nationally. Participating publishers include E.W. Scripps, Freedom Communications, Hearst Newspapers, GateHouse Media, Gannett, MediaNews Group, The New York Times, The Seattle Times Company, Tribune Publishing and Washington Post.