SOURCE: TownNews.com

October 09, 2008 10:55 ET

Ad-Owl Captures Over $5.5 Million in Past Year

Newspapers Profit by Accepting Online Classified Orders

MOLINE, IL--(Marketwire - October 9, 2008) - Newspaper customers are increasingly adopting new online technology to place classified ads.

In the last year, for example, the 126 newspapers using TownNews.com's Ad-Owl system for online ad order taking took in more than $5.5 million in classified advertising. That compares with 113 newspapers and $4.1 million in revenue in the equivalent 12-month period the prior year.

"People embraced Ad-Owl well at the beginning," said Jackie Maunder, Online/Inside Sales Supervisor for the Missoulian, a Lee Enterprises daily newspaper in Missoula, Mont.

The Missoulian has been using Ad-Owl to accept classified ads orders online since 2005. Since then, they have been able to cut back one full-time classified sales representative (CSR).

"We have less CSR staff than we used to," Maunder said. "We're not losing calls and don't have the problem of people not getting through."

The Missoulian promotes the system heavily during holidays as well, assuring their customers that they can still submit ads while the office is closed.

"Ad-Owl allows our customers to place their ads when it's convenient for them, vs. matching their schedules to our daily work hours," said Mark Roby, Publisher for The Public Opinion in Watertown, S.D.

The Public Opinion, a United Communications Corporation daily newspaper, has become a "24 x 7 shop" since implementing an online order entry system. "They can place the ad when they want, using their credit card to pay for it," Roby said. "Ad-Owl's a must-have tool for today's competitive business climate."

Newspapers without such technology are missing out, says Kubas Consulting. "At many newspapers, one cannot fully complete a classified liner print ad transaction online," wrote Ed Strapagiel in his July 2008 article for Kubas Consultants, entitled "The Next Newspaper Ad Sales Model. "Almost no newspapers have any way for an advertiser to buy a print display ad online, and almost no newspapers offer an online print ad creation tool for display."

The fact that Ad-Owl does show real-time previews of the ads is one of the reasons The Pueblo Chieftain, an independently owned daily in Pueblo, Colo., has been so successful with Ad-Owl.

"People are buying more upsells -- boxes, borders and images -- than when they call in because they are able to create their own ad and see it," said Lorna Jackson, classified manager for The Pueblo Chieftain.

"Ad-Owl has been a necessary and helpful tool to help us reach an increasing audience who prefers on-line ad order entry," agreed Mike Gugliotto, vice president and COO for Pioneer Newspapers, Inc. "It also has opened doors to attract non-traditional newspaper classified advertisers through options of online-only ad placement options with upsells to print."

By accepting ads online and processing the orders in real-time, newspapers are able to better accommodate the busy schedules of their readers. Submitters can places ads when classified call centers are closed, or place ads during the day without the hassle of waiting on hold for a classified agent to become available.

"Ad-Owl has proven to be an effective and affordable solution for our newspapers," said Gary Blackburn, senior publisher for the Princeton Daily Clarion, a daily Brehm Communications newspaper in Princeton, Ind. "If you are not online with a classified solution, you are missing some revenue."

About TownNews.com

TownNews.com, based in Moline, Ill., is majority owned by Lee Enterprises (LEE), a premiere publisher of daily, weekly, online and specialty publications. TownNews.com hosts more than 1,500 online publications, and offers a wide variety of products and services to U.S. newspapers. For more information, visit www.townnews.com.

If you'd like more information about this topic, please call Greg Booras at 904/794-1400 or e-mail Greg at gbooras@townnews.com.

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