Home' Local Media Today : July 2009 Contents An Official Publication of
Suburban Newspapers of America
Suburban Publisher is published by SNA, the only
non-profit trade association in North America that
specifically represents the needs and interests of
suburban and community newspapers.
Mission: SNA supports the community
newspaper industry and related local online
media through leadership, education,
innovation, promotion, research and the
advancement of high standards.
116 Cass Street Traverse City, MI 49684
SNA OFFICERS & DIRECTORS
Chairman of the Board
Stephen W. Parker
Recorder Community Newspapers
First Vice Chairwoman
Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Second Vice Chairman
Arizona Daily Star
Jon K. Rust
Holden Landmark Corporation
Immediate Past Chairman
Community Newspaper Holdings Inc .
Antelope Valley Press
American Community Newspapers LLC
Review Publishing Ltd Par tnership
East Bay Newspapers
Sound Publishing Inc.
Shaw Suburban Media
843-390 -1531; firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President of Operations
SNA Foundation Executive Director
Classifed Avenue Director of Sales
Advertising & Membership Relations Director
Information Technology Director
Classified Avenue Marketing Manager
Kim Cole 610-345-0795 email@example.com
Suburban Publisher Editor
Deb Shaw 610-793-2474; firstname.lastname@example.org
e-mail to email@example.com
Operations Manager, Bonnie Pitozzi
Accounting & Finance Director, Janice Norman
Membership Manager, Valerie Donn
Database Marketing Director, Clara Cherry
Communications Director, Tonya Ratajczak
Admin Asst Classified Avenue, Beth Leman
Suburban Publisher is printed courtesy of A.F.L .
Web Printing,Voorhees and Secaucus, N.J ., one of
the nation’s leading printers of daily, community
and specialty newspapers
For Candy Hodson
#1SNA President Nancy Lane met
with you last month at the CCNA
conference in Montreal and praised your
company as leaders when it comes to
niche opportunities. How do you incubate
ideas for new opportunities?
I wouldn’t say we seek out niche opportu-
nities as often as they come to us. When
you pay close attention to your core busi-
ness, it is easier to identify aspects that
you might serve better with a new or dif-
ferent product. Competitive forces have a
lot to do with it as well. The most success-
ful niche is the one with the fewest con-
tenders. And the go/no go decision is also
weighted by the investment required.
Many of our niche products take advan-
tage of existing expertise or resources.
#2Please tell us about
The site grew organically out of a one-per-
son operation. It caught on like wild-fire
in Ottawa, Ontario and Victoria, BC where
the university communities quickly
embraced it. Guerilla marketing made it a
household name. Today there are local
sites across Canada, USA and UK with
over 700 URL’s. Victoria and Ottawa con-
tinue to be the strongest and prove out that
‘first in the market’ is a huge advantage.
#3Had craigslist already existed in
your market when UsedCanada.com
Yes, craigslist did exist but it was not very
mainstream at the time.
#4I noticed on UsedCanada.com that
you market the volume of ads –
over 300,000 when I looked. That’s an
impressive total. How do you market the
site without bastardizing your print classi-
We have been cautious and it is a case of
trade-offs. Our classified revenue is sub-
stantial and many feared we would hasten
its demise by promoting UsedCanada.com.
Much of the marketing was outside of our
core products – Search optimization, tar-
geting college districts, giveaways and sig-
nage. In the few communities where we
don’t capture the majority of classifieds it
was easier to use our newspapers to pro-
mote it, and in cities like Calgary and
Edmonton where we haven’t any print, we
broadly mailed a promotional section with
some “used” ads that could be
found on the site. We have
much more to do on that front.
#5Do you make any
money with this endeav-
or and if yes, please elaborate.
We sell standard IAB ad units as run of
site or category specific. Classified sites
churn through impressions much faster
because of the number of items viewed so
the CPM rates are lower than a typical
website. Our statistics show Used has a
higher demographic of viewer and certain
retail segments, especially automotive,
find it very effective. We also drive rev-
enue through the Google Ad program and
through customer site upsells. This is a
small but solidly growing business.
#6 Is there a print component?
Our print component remains the classi-
fied section of our newspapers. We also
promote bcclassified.com (provincial clas-
sified website for our 70 titles in BC) as a
very convenient way to place an ad 24/7.
People like to use free classifieds for a
variety of items and may combine it with
a paid print ad when it comes to selling
something that is more important to them.
UsedCanada.com can bring them a huge
yet somewhat local audience and print still
delivers a more qualified lead. We are
examining ways for both of these classi-
fied assets to play off of each other. In the
meantime we’re strongly in the classified
#7Any tips for community publishers
that want to grow their own used
merchandise site as a buffer for their paid
Classified ads have something for almost
everyone whether online of offline. They
create fun reading such as miscellaneous
items for sale and a source of deals and
revenue that people are seeking today.
They’re also a great source for researching
a purchase such as automotive. I’d say
convenience is a major factor in attracting
online content. Many publishers run their
paid ads online for free. It may be wise to
select certain categories to build on
aggressively. An important tip would be to
look to industry leaders to emulate or part-
ner with. For instance, they could become
part of the Usedeverywhere.com network.
#8What other niche opportunities are
working well for you?
We are doing very well with our
NewLocalHome.com publication, which is
targeted at new home developments in the
Vancouver market and is a direct print
competitor with the local Daily. The web-
site needs to develop as more and more
people research buying new homes online.
Our key focus is to create a dialogue
between buyers. I always remind people
that community newspapers are highly
successful niche products and our corre-
sponding websites simply make it easier
for our readers to get more involved in
shaping our coverage. Our investment in
newsgathering in every community is
complemented by the deeper connection
we develop online. What was once weekly
or twice-weekly trusted insight becomes
the immediate go to source. Flyerland.ca
is a partnership with Metroland Media
Group and offers coupons, deals, flyers
and catalogues across English-speaking
Canada. The whole site is about revenue
opportunities so I am very excited about
its growing traffic and development.
#9What’s on the horizon ... any new
initiatives that you can share?
The horizon is unknown and that’s the
beauty of this industry. We are in a con-
stant state of evolution and innovation. My
outlook has always been that you never
know when a new opportunity will present
itself. These past 25 years I’ve heard many
people say ‘it won’t work or it can’t hap-
pen’ and I tend to disregard that. You have
to be ‘open’ to change. That fits well with
an entrepreneurial owner and a senior
management team that really works well
Candy Hodson is Senior VP National
Sales & Marketing for Black Press Media.
Shes’s reached at 604.575 .5325 or
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