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Direct sales

Developing Productive Staffs Takes Critical Thinking

Media sales staffs are used to dealing with numbers that track their productivity, such as budgets, pipelines and close ratios. Journalists tend to abhor the idea.

Tracking the productivity of online journalists in a complex, well-managed environment is unavoidable. It?s by tracking the number of articles they manage and the page views they generate that managers can determine if they should hire more staff.

Imagine a site with a content staff of 10 that generates 10 million page views a month or a million PVs per staffer. Let?s assume about 1,000 stories a week ? mostly from the print side but some purely online ? automatically flow onto the site, with the biggest spike on Sundays. Among many duties, the staff produces original content, develops slide shows and is responsible for making sure all stories get on the site, flow into the proper sections, receive additional packaging, etc.

A new annual budget comes along with a 25 percent increase in revenue. Can ad rates go up 25 percent? Unlikely in this environment, but a rate increase can solve part of it. Can 25 percent more ad positions be created? Unlikely again, for most sites already have fleshed out their ad space. Other ideas are possible, but the obvious one is a major boost in page views, which will increase ad inventory at the same rate.

Let?s settle on a 20 percent increase in page views. You probably can?t make your content staff work 20 percent harder or put in six days a week. If you are convinced that they are fully productive, then the rational choice is a 20 percent increase in staff or two more full-time people in order to achieve the new PV target.

Those two new hires won?t join the others in checking the story flow. They must be focused on creating new content, sections and applications that will be major factors in boosting the site that extra 20 percent.

Tracking content staff productivity and developing well-defined job descriptions linked to those goals will go far in building a balanced and fairly managed online operation.

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Sales Staff Incentives

Online sales people need to be more persevering than traditional media AEs because of the extreme peaks and valleys of the business.

Compensation is one way to help them through the valleys and boost their performance even higher during the peaks. (more…)

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Local Online Video Sales

An online sales manager sent a note asking about getting started in online video sales. The quick answer is, start small.

A previous post pointed out the limited viewership at this time with local online videos. It is important to establish a foothold in video by producing some clips, learning the technology and gaining insight into the audience. But the great majority of video viewership is on national sites such as YouTube, while much smaller viewership is on local media sites.

A local site that is regularly getting more than 100,000 views a month is probably an exception right now. A more common amount of traffic might be in the tens of thousands. Many sites are likely generating less than 10,000 views a month if they are doing video at all.

At a $30 cost per thousand video views (video commands a higher cpm because it is a captive audience), the inventory on a site with 20,000 views a month is worth $600. In contrast, page view inventory is worth $150,000 a month on a site with 5 million PVs a month (5M/1,000 x $10 cpm x three ads per page). In addition, video has a high production cost because it is labor intensive.

A good starting point for sales is just one or two video sponsorships that include the preroll (the ad at the beginning of the video, usually less than 10 seconds long) and a banner position on the pages that display the videos for the sake of added value.

But there is a better answer. Consider starting with a video version of Top Jobs, which is an upsell of employment liner ads into a video format. It has successfully rolled out at quite a few newspapers, has decent advertiser acceptance and can quickly generate six figures of revenue in metro markets. The profit and revenue from this product can finance the growth of video in other areas of the operation.




Cost of Sale Helps Manage Advertising Staff

Cost of sale is just as important to managing the profit goals of a Web business as gross margin, which is profit after content and production.

At least in some operations, cost of sale is defined as the sum total of all sales and marketing costs, including staff, commissions, benefits, promotions, research and other related expenses. (more…)

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