Enter the Chronicle, which offers Web page development and SEO, a presence on a variety of social media platforms as well as monitoring of Yelp, City Search and other consumer feedback sites. The all-in-one service has spurred changes to the newspaper's print editions, including more locally-focused editorial sections and expansion of entertainment guides and other special sections.
With digital alone, "you don't get the same lift that you do if your advertising message is optimized across a number of platforms," Brown says. "Print and display advertising still have a huge effect on what people search for online later in the day and later in the week. But we've created packages that for as little as $500 a month—sometimes less—allow small businesses to have one comprehensive program, one consultant point of purchase that allows them to pretty much get into the digital age while taking advantage of more traditional forms of media as well."
Directory-based systems and traditional display advertising is "still a core piece of our business and still something advertisers gravitate to," Brown says. "When you combine it with cost-effective digital solutions I think you start to have a very powerful and affordable marketing program."
The Ricochet Effect
The New York Times has found an interesting way to put display ads to work in the context of customers' increasingly sophisticated content strategies. Recognizing that links and references to third-party content are an important component of blogging and social media for many companies, the newspaper decided to create a service whereby an advertiser's display ad would always appear along with specific Times content. Advertisers who buy ad space associated with a particular article are provided a custom link that refers all traffic to an article with their ad.
"The original impetus behind it was we developed a visualization tool to watch how our content is shared in Twitter, called Cascade," explains Michael Zimbalist, vice president of research and development at The New York Times. "One of the things we observed in Cascade is a lot of our content is shared by brands, and by professionals and small businesses, and those brands have the capabilities of actually driving a lot of traffic.