Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, AOL and a handful of other global portals will bring in $15 billion with simple, self-service text ads that appear on thousands of web sites. That's nearly five times as much as newspapers will bring in through classified advertising this year.
This new type of advertising on web sites is becoming the classifieds of the web, but there was no platform for local media companies (unless they partnered with one of these global portals).
Creative Circle Media Solutions, long an innovator in helping local newspapers grow and thrive both in print and online, decided newspapers needed to get into the game.
QuickAds has many of the features of the platforms used by those portal sites, but Creative Circle added several twists to make the software more effective for local web sites.
"The huge portals let you create a text ad and link it to your web site," says Bill Ostendorf, founder and president of Creative Circle. "Their strength is that they know a lot about their users and can serve 'relevant' ads that are more likely to be of interest to a user. But the process of 'targeting' your ad can be intimidating for local businesses and the ads can be very expensive."
All the portal sites try to maximize their revenue by forcing users to bid on key words or placement. As a result, most people end up overpaying for their ads.
"We recognized that most local businesses want something that's effective but simple," says Ostendorf. "In focus groups, many told us they didn't trust the bidding process or the data the portals collect on users. And we know many local businesses don't have an effective web site to link to."
QuickAds features flat-rate pricing and a variety of "popups," which can feature a photo gallery, coupon or PDF along with web links, e-mail contacts, logos, text, photos and more. QuickAds can be displayed like ads throughout a site, like the portals can, but can also be packaged in a variety of ways in full pages.
"Local media companies know how to target market their audiences through placement and content and QuickAds lets them put ads where they are most likely to get seen and acted upon," says Ostendorf. "QuickAds is important to local newspapers and other media outlets because partnering with these global portals is dangerous. They want to become local advertising platforms, too. They want to dominate everything. Helping Google grow is the last thing a local newspaper should do."
The QuickAds upgrade being rolled out now ads new ad formats along with video and audio popup options. It also provides more packaging options and allows newspapers and magazines to pull all their print ads – both print display ads from the paper and all of their classifieds – into QuickAds so they can be showcased and upgraded online. This magazine site in New Mexico even packaged all their print ads into a classy online directory: www.nmmarketplace.com.
QuickAds is in use on this site (for the built-in directory of marketing service providers on the home page of Denver PRlink) and dozens of newspaper sites around the country.
If you are a PR firm, ad agency, videographer, commercial photographer, copy writer or otherwise help businesses with their marketing needs, you can advertise on this site for just $1 a day by clicking here.
While the platform was built for local media companies, it could be used by any web site that has good traffic to generate ad revenue. For example, a photographer in Rhode Island more than pays for his web site costs by using QuickAds to get local businesses in front of the thousands of high school kids and parents who come to his site to see and buy his local sports photography.
"It's a great platform. It's fun to use and really allows everyone to be creative – both in how the ads are packaged and sold and what businesses can do with them," says Ostendorf. "And it provides an entirely new way for any web site with traffic to make a little money to pay for the content they create and the traffic they generate. Hopefully, this will free a lot of web sites from lining the pockets of Google, Yahoo and Facebook and manage their own advertisers for a change."
ABOUT CREATIVE CIRCLE
Creative Circle has redesigned more than 500 print publications – mostly newspapers but also dozens of magazines – and has led training for journalists, publishers or ad sales representatives in 43 countries. In 2004, frustrated with the limited or flawed software options available to its consulting and design clients, Creative Circle founded a software division to create new types of digital platforms for local media companies.
Consulting, training, software or redesign clients in Wyoming include the Gillette News Record, Jackson Hole News & Guide, Cody Enterprise, the Rocket-Miner in Rock Springs and the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.
Creative Circle has designed, built and hosts dozens of media web sites around the country and offers a content-oriented CMS, mediasiteQ, along with the media industry's first user-contributed content platform, communityQ. Other specialized software titles include: adQ: Intelligent classifieds, PressReleaseQ, QuickAds, schoolQ and marketplaceQ.