In 2000, Google launched an online, advertiser self-provisioning system, AdWords. Google announced, “Google's AdWords Program Offers Every Business a Fully Automated, Comprehensive and Quick Way to Start an Online Advertising Campaign”:
The AdWords program offers advertisers the same highly targeted ad serving technology as the premium sponsorship program, and through a simple to use self-service system, enables advertisers to sign up and monitor a campaign directly from the Google website.
Google described the real-time advertiser benefits of self-provisioning:
- New ads appear instantly: Ads are online immediately after an order is placed.
- Ad preview tools: Shows how an advertisement will look before it's posted on Google's search results page.
- Unlimited ad creation: Advertisers can create and run as many different versions of an ad to see which ones get the best response from users.
- Advanced keyword targeting options: Several targeting options are available to enable the fine-tuning of a campaign, including keywords, negative keywords, phrase matches, and exact matches.
- Web-based reporting tools: Instant access to online reporting tools that deliver click-through rates and number of impressions delivered.
- Ad performance feedback: Advertisers see real-time feedback--in the form of a visitor interest bar--to gauge the overall effectiveness and popularity of an ad.
Google’s AdWords turn-key system is one of the drivers of the company’s phenomenal financial success. I note, however, in “Google targets $100 billion Yellow Pages industry?”:
While Google’s advertiser self-provisioning system is cost-effective, it has not been overwhelmingly adopted by the millions of small businesses in the U.S.
Nevertheless, online publishers in all sectors are offering advertiser self-provisioning functionality to reduce sales costs and maximize sales. In 2004, Peter Zollman, Classified Intelligence, wrote in Newspapers & Technology:
There are more software vendors than there were a few years ago, and a lot more papers offer true self-serve ad-placement tools. When those products are effective, customers consistently place larger ads and run them longer; the paper can cut staffing in the classified phone room or use it more wisely for outbound sales efforts and special projects, and customers are happier because they can place ads 24/7 and control the process…
“I don’t care how good someone is on the telephone,” said Julia Wilke of a group of Wisconsin newspapers. “They could tell you all about one of our ‘make an offer’ attractors, describe it in great detail and still you’ll go ‘nah.’ But when you actually see it on the Internet; you say, ‘I’m having that.’”
Brad Bradberry, publisher of several Colorado weeklies, said this about self-serve ad sales: “We are beyond satisfied with the system. We have experienced cost savings that far exceed our investment.”…
self-service ad placement is growing and it’s fast including more than just classifieds. Newspapers are starting to offer self-service display ads, especially targeting small advertisers who have not been traditional newspaper advertisers.
Other media, most notably yellow pages and search engines, are targeting newspaper advertisers, as well, by offering self-service advertising. Google, Yahoo/Overture and Verizon SuperPages, to mention a few, are aggressively targeting local advertisers with online ad placement…
Will all advertisers place their own ads sometime in the future? Of course not. Newspapers will still have sales reps. They’ll just spend a lot more time selling, as opposed to taking ads. They’ll spend more time providing measurable proof of return on investment. And they will work with much larger marketing departments, to drive small and occasional advertisers - plumbers, accountants, attorneys, micro-local businesses like sandwich shops and cleaners, private-party classified ad users - to the newspapers’ self-serve ad tools.
Once you launch a self-service section (or if you already have), make sure you support it well. Self-service ad tools require extensive promotion, marketing and customer service support for advertisers. The “If we build it, they will come” syndrome is common with self-serve products, but it’s a big mistake.
Today, one more online Yellow Pages company, Yellowpages.com, is "building it," and embracing online advertiser self-provisioning.
Yellowpages.com, an online Yellow Pages and search directory, is a joint venture operation of AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Advertising and Publishing Corporation, formed in 2004. According to the company:
The Yellowpages.com distribution network provides exposure to more than 90 million monthly consumer business searches. Consumers can locate merchants, search White Pages directories, research products and services, obtain maps and directions, and plan entertainment, leisure and travel activities.
In a move to facilitate and encourage merchant advertiser self-provisioning, Yellowpages.com is deploying a self-serve advertising platform, based on AdMission technology. According to Matt Crowley, Vice President of Marketing for Yellowpages.com:
As our traffic and popularity continues to increase, we wanted to offer new advertisers the ability to order online. Using a custom version of the AdMission self-serve advertising platform, new Yellowpages.com customers can register an online account, select from various ad offerings, submit their business information and graphics, preview and confirm payment method for finished ads.
I spoke with AdMission’s VP of Business Development, Leif Welch, about the new AdMission - Yellowpages.com collaboration.
AdMission describes itself as:
a leading provider of patented technology solutions for local advertising publishers including newspaper classifieds, yellow pages, e-commerce websites and online directories. The AdMission platform is a hosted solution that provides local advertisers with the means to create rich, visual ads showcasing their businesses, products and services, resulting in more relevant searches for consumers and qualified leads for advertisers.
For Welch, the Yellowpages.com – AdMission collaboration is a “win” for both parties.
AdMission is licensing Yellowpages.com a customized, private label, hosted advertiser self-provisioning system on a revenue-sharing, pay for performance basis.
For Yellowpages.com, its new “Powered by AdMission” “Advertise With Us” solution drives incremental revenue via new customer acquisition and advertiser up-selling strategies, on a cost-effective basis.