3 Strategies to Double Your Ballot Revenue (& How One Newspaper Doubled Theirs)

by Julie Foley Second Street

3 Tips for Doubling Your Digital Revenue

Don’t undersell the assets available to you

One newspaper only made 8 digital ad units available for a ballot they were running, and all 8 sold out within 24 hours. While it’s great that they sold out, the fact that they sold out so quickly means they probably could have sold more digital ads had they been available. So when you are creating digital packages to sell to advertisers listed on your ballot, do your best not to limit the number of units available. Offer several ad unit types and sell each to multiple advertisers (i.e. for a 20% SOV), and sell as many expanded listings and category sponsorships as possible.

Don’t sell yourself short when pricing

Another reason that the newspaper mentioned in the example above may have sold all of their online ad units so quickly is that they were priced too low. When are are determining what to charge for your digital assets, be sure to understand the full value of what you are offering and price accordingly. Your metro ballot is likely one of the most exciting and popular initiatives you run all year, so the audience that you have to offer is huge.

Don’t wait until the last minute to start selling

A ballot is a major initiative, so you want to be sure to give your sales team enough time to go to market and sell. Ideally, you should start selling around 2 months before you plan to launch.

You can see the power of a digital approach in this example from the Kent Reporter:

How One Paper Doubled Their Ballot Revenue

[Kent Reporter] sells a print ballot and has never sold their digital ballot. They were able to nearly double their total project revenue with sponsorship opportunities from the Voter’s Choice platform.”

 – Seth Long, Director of Digital Media, Sound Publishing

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“Best of Kent” Ballot

The Kent Reporter, a 27,000 circulation paper in Kent, Washington, was able to increase their “Best of Kent” ballot revenue by 43% by adding a digital ballot and including digital assets in their sales packages. The paper generated $15,522 in total revenue from the promotion, $6,685 of which was digital.

They had been running a paper “Best of Kent” ballot for years, but in 2014 they decided to supplement the paper ballot with an online ballot that could bring in digital revenue (look at those category sponsorships and expanded listings!).

Best-of-Kent-Ballot

The paper sold one overall sponsorship for the ballot to QFC, a local supermarket chain, and the promotional package included the following elements:

  • Logo in print ad running 4 weeks
  • Logo on all promotional materials
  • Logo on the 1st page of the online ballot
  • 1/2 page full-color “Thank you” ad in the special section following the ballot

In addition to a cash investment, QFC contributed 3 gift cards ($100, $75, and $50) for a sweepstakes that everyone who submitted a ballot was automatically entered into.

In addition to “Vote for Me” and “Thank You” print ads, the paper also sold the following digital elements:

  • Online ads around the ballot
  • Leaderboard ads
  • Category & subcategory sponsorships
  • Enhanced listings

Here you can see the one-sheets that the sales team used to sell the ballot:

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Sales_Materials_for_Best_of_Kent_survey_-_amy_secondstreet_com_-_Second_Street_Mail

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Julie Foley Second Street

Julie is the Director of Affiliate Success at Second Street and a former client from Morris Multimedia. Her best advice for driving the most success with your audience engagement strategy? Plan ahead.