Publishers Use Special Sections to Drive More Revenue
Football in Illinois
Gridiron debuted in Rockford, Illinois, in August 2008 and has been published every football season since. The project brings in about $60,000 in advertising revenue each season for The Rockford Register Star, running every Friday for 13 weeks during the high school football season. The register covers about 55 high school teams with an emphasis on schools in proximity to Rockford.
According to Sports Editor Randy Ruef, "It's a big project, but it's not a heavy workload. . . . it's just repackaging and reusing stuff." For newspapers that don't have large sports staffs, Ruef said putting together a publication like Gridirron can still work. "There are ways to get around having a small staff. Use the phone, use photos, use the help of part-timers and take advantage of schools, coaches and stringers to give you something."
Ruef chalks up Gridiron's success to focusing specifically on football instead of all high school sports, which sets it apart for advertisers and appeals to a specific audience. Auto dealers, sports, medicine and family entertainment businesses have all advertised. Ads on RRStar.com/gridiron are sold as bundled buy to advertisers. Each of the print ad positions of a quarter page or larger include online. The front-strip and back-page advertisers get the pre-roll and the mid-roll on the predictions video on the site. Ruef explained, "Advertisers love it. We don't have a lot of positive news that advertisers can be associated with. This is positive."
Motorcycles in Wisconsin
The Washington County Daily News created a Riders' Guide for Harley-Davidson riders visiting southeastern Wisconsin for an anniversary celebration. "It was the most successful revenue-generating, free standing special section to date," said Lois Evans, advertising director for the 9,200 circulation newspaper in West Bend.
Because of the expanded area of the publication's audience, the Daily News was able to produce a more regional special section and gain advertisers in three counties outside its normal coverage area. "We had a huge selection of first-time advertisers that was above and beyond our readership," Evans said.