Based in Northern California’s premier wine country, Sonoma Media Investments (SMI) publishes The Press Democrat, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Petaluma Argus-Courier, and the Northbay Business Journal. The Press Democrat has been the North Bay’s leading daily news, sports, entertainment and information resource for more than 150 years.
As part of its subscriber outreach, SMI also publishes 17 different newsletters, covering daily news, business news, food, wine, travel and breaking news. Combined, SMI reaches more than 100,000 email subscribers.
As a local/regional news outlet, Digital Operations Manager Tomas Chadsey says maintaining that connection with subscribers is crucial, but so is driving revenue. To drive ROI, a few years ago, SMI began selling direct ads in their newsletters. The only option was a 300×250 unit, if the space was available. If there was no advertiser, there was no revenue—they had no way to monetize unsold inventory.
Good Intentions, Poor Performance
Looking for a more flexible solution, SMI got set up with a well-known email advertising provider. But it soon proved to be more work and more time-consuming than expected. Loading creative in the first system could take hours.
“We had to upload creative to our ad server, then wait for that to sync up with their server. This process might delay trafficking the ad by 2-3 hours. Sometimes we have to get an ad up there right now, and this just wasn’t happening,” Tomas said.
Then, there was the issue of reporting. In order to monitor performance, Sonoma would have to consult their own ad server, plus the 3rd party email ad system. “It was just extremely time-consuming and cumbersome,” Tomas said. “Not to mention, we had ads that wouldn’t load and if we needed support, it was very difficult to reach someone in technical support.”
The Spark that Ignited a Flame
SMI had been looking for a better, more streamlined solution, but it was a chance encounter between Sonoma Chief Digital Revenue Officer Jose del Castillo and Jeeng CEO Jeff Kupietzky that sealed the deal. The two met at a Digital Innovation Conference in New York, and Jose knew immediately that Jeeng would provide the solution to Sonoma’s troubles.
“Jeeng provided the direct integration with Google Ad Manager that we needed to streamline the entire process,” Tomas says. “Now we can upload creative once, have it load into our template within seconds, and if we need to change anything, it takes just a few minutes to re-populate the new creative into the template.”
In addition to streamlining ad ops, Sonoma can also now use Jeeng’s Ad Network to backfill any remnant inventory that isn’t direct sold, to capitalize on every monetization opportunity. And, because of Jeeng’s direct GAM integration, performance reporting is consolidated into one, simple platform, which makes it easy to track ad traffic and ensures more accurate billing.
Programmatic + Performance = Confidence
“Adding this programmatic piece adds more revenue, and we lean on this when we’ve not filled our direct-sold inventory,” Tomas said. “And, now that we have better reporting, we can see the clicks and impressions every creative receives. Plus, with Jeeng, the ads just work. We can count on them to load across all platforms, including mobile, and with all email clients. We didn’t have that confidence before.”
Between the simplified ops and streamlined reporting, Jeeng saves him and his team, “Several hours a week in trafficking and generating reports, plus a fair amount of frustration.” Sonoma has since transitioned all 17 of its newsletters over to the Jeeng system, generating 85% direct and 15% programmatic revenue from its email campaigns.
“We’ve been extremely happy with Jeeng and I’d definitely recommend it for email monetization, especially if you’re using GAM,” he said. “And, I’ve been very happy with the customer support, which is usually same day service.”