local media insider
Case study

Social media ads a hit with Chicago Tribune advertisers

Alisa Cromer
Social media ads are a hit with advertisers.

Company: Chicago Tribune
Initiative: Deployment of Facebook and Twitter ads
Key Executives: Bill Adee, VPDigital, Chicago Tribune and Brad Flora, founder of NowSpots

Challenge: The Chicago Tribune wanted to deploy ads that would allow advertisers to change the content themselves  by incorporating Facebook and Twitter feeds that advertisers controled. The theory was that these ads could sell for a premium and recieve higher ROI. Plus, advertisers are spending more on social media and want "an outlet for it," Adee says.

Strategy: The Chicago Tribune chose Chicago-based NowSpots platform, a local company. Initially the software was intially piloted on Tribune-owned, Chicago Magazine. The company provides both tower-style facebook ads and leaderboards ideal for Twitter feeds. Nowspots says it charges in the $1 to $3 cpm range for the ads, which the Tribune sold for a 30 to 40% premium over its regular rates of $6 to $12 cpm. 

Sizes include 300x250, 728 x 90 and the popular 300x600 which can hold a number of Facebook posts. Here's an example from the Art Institute of Chicago posting its listings (below in the top right ad unit) on the home page that looks a lot like news, and in a sense it is: 

Another example (pardon the grammar in this ad) from an event using Twitter to create urgency around its ticket sales: 

"Sales likes the product.. it gives them something different to talk about." The ads became popular with both advertisers and readers.  In the first six months, 25 campaigns were sold, serving 7 million impressions. Advertsers used the feed to promote product information, sales and deals. 

Most Campaigns by Vertical were as follows:
1. Entertainment: 7
2. Retail: 5
3. Bars & Restaurants: 5
4. Higher Education: 2
5. Museums: 2
6. Travel: 2

Online visitors expressed their preference for the units with CTR's that are three times the industry average.   Overall CTR as 0.361%, spiking up to .66 for retail. Here's a breakdown of CTR by Category:
1. Retail: 0.665

2. Entertainment: 0.391% 

3. Travel: 0.288% 

4. Bars & Restaurants: 0.215%

5. Misc.: 0.214% 
6. Higher Education: 0.193%
7. Museums: 0.193%

Lessons learned

• Advertisers are creating great content and want to pay to run it on media sites in relevant placements with minimal mediation

• They will pay a premium for this

• If their update at least once a day, their ads likely will outperform their static banners

• Readers want content. Give them that, and they will reward with clicks.


Brad Flora, President, brad@nowspots.com, Cell: 269.861.5280 

Also contact,Bill Adee, VP/Digital, Chicago Tribune, badee@tribune.com or @bill80

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.


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Great case study on NowSpots. You definitely have me excited to look into this option further. I already have 10 clients that would be a perfect fit for this type of ad unit.

Friday, May 25, 2012
met-Media Execs Tech
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