MinnPost Tweets Local Ads

Posted on 26. Jun, 2009 by in Hyperlocal, Not-For-Profit, Revenue

MinnPost.com launched an innovative micro-blogging advertising service yesterday that they’re calling Real-Time Ads. The Minnesota-based not-for-profit created a new sidebar widget that will publish messages from an advertiser’s Twitter account or blog RSS feed, as long as it has been updated within the last 72 hours.

Real-Time Ads widget launched this week by MinnPost.comIn a post announcing the launch yesterday, MinnPost founder Joel Kramer described the Real-Time Ads product as “a fast-paced marketplace, full of advertisers’ messages that are newly posted and thus up-to-date.” Moreover, he believes this kind of “just-in-time” advertising provides a kind of information that could draw readers back again and again.

He wrote: “Imagine a restaurant that can post its daily lunch special in the morning and then its dinner special in the afternoon. Or a sports team that can keep you up-to-date on its games and other team news. Or a store that could offer a coupon good only for today. Or a performance venue that can let you know whether tickets are available for tonight. Or a publisher or blogger who gives you his or her latest headline.”

The service is in a free, four-week trial period and has already drawn over a dozen testers from a pool of over 30 invitees. The final cost to subscribe will be set at the end of the test period, but Kramer says it will be “below $100.” Each MinnPost page will carry three subscriber messages in the widget, selected randomly. According to their real-time ad media kit, MinnPost averages 700,000 page views a month, which means a subscriber’s message will be viewed roughly 70,000 times.

Certainly, at such a low price point and with only 32 slots available (for now), Real-Time Ads won’t be a revenue game changer right off the bat for an organization looking for a path to sustainability. Maximum revenues would be about $150,000 per year, enough to pay for another staff reporter, but not much else.

“We look for game-enhancers, and this could prove to be one,” says Kramer. “The important thing is that the current set-up is just the beta set-up; we can do many more things — at both higher and lower prices — if the demand is there.”

He says two ideas would be to create premium slots to guarantee placement at certain times of the day or a lower-cost model that would function more like a classifieds page.

Kramer says the widget did not cost much to develop—under $5,000—and Kramer says it will remain a relatively inexpensive, self-service product aimed at advertisers who already blog or tweet.

“We hope if people find it exciting it will encourage them to set up their own blog or Twitter account,” says Kramer. “But we’re not going to be their online advertising consultants.”

But, at least in the short term, even experienced online customers may need some hand holding. Although MinnPost is not the first site to use Twitter and RSS as an advertising tool—see TheDeets and The Windy Citizen—the concept confused some of the internet savvy advertisers they approached for the free trial.

“Only a few people understood it immediately,” Sally Waterman, the MinnPost advertising director, wrote in an email. “Most ‘decision-makers’ did not. I had to talk to most people about it at least once — and most of them had to pull in the people that are actually doing the tweeting and the RSS updating, and then I had to talk to them, too. Once they understood it, they liked it a lot. This has also been a catalyst for many of our clients to start conversations about social marketing and how it fits into their business.”

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  1. Advertising in a Sustainable Not-for-Profit Model | News Innovation - August 18, 2009

    […] (MinnPost was charging a $15 cpm earlier this summer) and new advertising units, including a Twitter-like service that he thinks could be a new form of classifieds for local […]

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