Advertisers Barter Gift Certificates For Newspaper Advertising
Illinois-based newspapers, The Dispatch (in Moline) and
The Rock Island Argus located in the Mississippi River region
known as the Quad Cities, launched
www.DeliveringQC.com in February 2007. It is a customer
retention web site that developed into a major draw for advertisers.
The secret of its success? Telling advertisers, �Your money�s no
The site uses a
two-pronged approach that favors barter over cash, yet keeps
the newspaper comfortably in the black.
advertiser gives the web site three gift certificates each month
that are redeemable for its products or services. The site then
offers these vouchers for sale to anyone who visits the site�s
�Value Vault,� at half the face value of each certificate or
less...taking that sum as its fee.
Each month, the
paper sells $2,000 to $7,000 worth of gift certificates, estimates
John A. Newby, former circulation director for The Dispatch
and now publisher of The Times in Ottawa (IL). �Advertisers
love it, we get our money back and draw more readers to the site,�
the site, those same advertisers offer special coupons that can be
downloaded and printed only by those who subscribe to The
Dispatch or The Rock Island Argus. The advertisers also
receive promotion in the print edition and elsewhere on the DQC
Newby and the
site�s former manager and administrator, Zack Wenthe, spent an hour
a day for about two months just brainstorming the details of how the
site would work. They started by collecting pre-printed, paper-based
gift certificates from merchants, but having to mail them to
customers who bought them online quickly proved tedious.
In September, a
completely digital system was designed which customers could then
download and print. Each month, merchants receive a report that
lists the number of page views their part of the site received, as
well as the serial numbers of each gift certificate purchased.
according to Wenthe, is that the site�s approach appeals to
internet-wary small business advertisers. �Your major players get
it, they know how to track it,� he noted, �but local guys don�t want
to assume a lot of risk.� The benefit of this ad program is that
it�s performance based. �They�re only paying if we sell their gift
DQC is a
particularly effective tool for reaching the small-business
advertiser, says Newspaper Next's Stephen T. Gray, who has watched
the project evolve. �This removes one of the biggest obstacles to
advertising�having to take cash out of the business to pay for it.�
And what about
those gift certificates that don�t sell quite so well? The newspaper
company uses them as new subscriber and EZ Pay premiums, Newby says.
Previously, the papers were spending about $10 to $20 per subscriber
for premiums. Now the certificates generate about $150,000-$200,000
in revenue and savings on subscriber inducements, added Newby.
has been getting the traffic,� Newby admitted. Clearly dabbling in
barter is something guaranteed to make a newspaper�s accounts
department a little nervous. �But we have to be different. If we
keep doing the same thing we�ve always done, we�re dead.�