Ad buyers’ takeaways: 11 tactics for generating revenue

By Ted Williams, Research Consultant

This is part of the Buyers Unfiltered RESEARCH PROJECT, published Jan. 2024. Read the entire package.

 In January 2024, we published the 2024 North Carolina Ad Buyer’s Report to share how N.C. ad buyers make media buying decisions.

Here are 11 quick recommendations for North Carolina media companies looking to make more money, in no particular order.

1. Pitch content-led ideas. Ad buyers turn to local media companies to help them tell stories. Content-led ideas that work across multiple digital channels are especially attractive (ex, newsletter, site, and social).

2. Tell the story of your audience. Authentically talk about the relationship between your media company and its most loyal readers. It inspires and sells.

3. Don’t sell against Meta and Google. It’s not a zero-sum game as digital budgets continue to grow. Competing with Meta and Google on reach, targeting, and cost is simply a fool’s errand. Instead, focus on your publication’s unique value proposition.

4. Understand a client’s budget cycle. For 31% of ad buyers who buy annually, you’ve got only one chance each year to get on their plan.

5. Launch and grow a newsletter. 30% of ad buyers plan to buy more email/newsletter advertising from local media. It’s never been a better time to have a local flagship newsletter and a dedicated email product.

6. Run different sales paths. Most larger buyers expect a customized, high-touch sales process. But many small business owners just want a case study and a rate card. Don’t have a case study? These examples will help guide you.

7. Embrace experimentation. New stuff sells, when pitched in the right spirit. “Why not try something for six weeks?” said a healthcare ad buyer. “Worst case scenario, you lose $30,000. It’s not that expensive. It’s not like back in the day where you had to produce an $80,000 commercial and release it.”

8. Dominate a niche. Quality audiences of just a few thousand can attract big ad buyers. Rarely do ad buyers come to local media for scale, as they can easily and cheaply get that from Meta and Google.

  • Punchbowl News provides an excellent example of dominating a valuable niche — government leadership and policymakers. It’s their third year in business, yet they’re on track for $20M in revenue with 21 employees.
  • On a local level, one ad agency executive described the attractiveness of the “premium, influential legislative” audience developed by The Assembly.

9. Prioritize paywall education. Advertising campaigns can be more effective with paywalled sites, but most local ad buyers need you to walk them through it.

10. Organized influencers can get rich, quick. Budgets are moving in your direction. Influencers that are easy to work with, professional, and produce quality sponsored posts can command top dollar.

  • Local hybrid media companies (newsletter-site-social) like The Go To Winston Salem have done a good job positioning themselves as publisher-influencers, thus unlocking budget.

11. Invest in advertising sales. It’s a large, growing market. Remarkably, 27% of ad buyers plan to allocate more budget to local media companies.

This is part of the Buyers Unfiltered research project, published Jan. 2024. Read the entire package.