I was pleasantly surprised the other day to see how our company has called the future with our digital program book advertising sales! Wouldn’t this be great if this were the case, but in all honesty, it was just our conscious decision to not allow programmatic advertising on our Stageview app. We have been adamant about keeping all of the ad sales in house so we could hand craft our advertiser’s message to the audience of the performing arts in both our printed and digital products.
You see, in a recent Wall Street Journal article “Publishers That Say No to Automated Ad Sales,” there seems to be a tectonic shift coming from trying to cram as many ads as you can (aka programmatic ads, robots, etc) on your website, within your app, or what have you while trying to make the most money you can, and with a total disregard for the user’s experience to truly limited, well-crafted ads.
In my mind programmatic advertising has always been kind of the Wal-Mart approach—they carry everything and its cheap! Whereas with our printed product and accompanying digital platform, Stageview, we take more of a luxury brand approach. Our printed program book and Stageview products are not conducive to every advertiser out there and therefore we hand pick who we want advertising in these products. Kind of like an invitation only type of advertising.
This approach does two things for us, it creates demand for our printed and digital platforms and it makes all of our advertisers very happy. As I’ve said many times before, advertisers today expect and plan for a digital presence in their marketing mix and if a program book publisher cannot offer this, then they’re going to be left behind. Furthermore, our advertisers love that they are one of only a few advertisers competing for a highly coveted demographic.
Foretelling the future again.
When we launched Stageview two years ago starting with the 2013-2014 performing arts season, our clients kicked and screamed at us and were adamant that no one would use it. But we knew people would use it (remember, we can tell the future), but it would just be a matter of time.
How did we know this? Well, let me tell you a story. Back in the day, before the mobile phone frenzy, our first foray into digital was with page turns. We actually still use these today on our website for our advertisers, but I digress. We told our performing arts partner clients that the page turns would be the next iteration of the printed program book and like it or not, we were doing it for every one of their program books all at no cost to them. But the catch was, we wanted them to put a link to the program book on their website, before the term “link back” even existed! They kicked and screamed at us and said no one would use it. Some even gave us access to their back end to put the link up for them because they had no idea how to even get it up on their website. And on and on went the conjecture.
I won’t lie to you, that first year was rough to say the least. However, that second year, the page turns became the hottest commodity for our clients. Before they would get their printed program books delivered to them, they would be asking
“where’s our page turn link?” because their patrons loved seeing a sneak peek of the program book when they received their ticket confirmation emails.
So this is how we know Stageview is the next gen of these digital forays. But this time we have all kinds of studies from the performing arts industry to back this up. The most recent study being “Culture Track 2014” rich with data to prove that patrons, like it or not, are slowly transitioning to digital for their performing arts content. But our most compelling data to prove that patrons use Stageview is our very own analytics. The usage that we get on Stageview would make even the most adamant naysayers blush. And our advertisers love these analytics just as much as we love them. It turns non-believers into believers about performing arts advertising.
And back to our uncanny ability to predict the future. At Onstage Publications, we believe that program books will never be 100% digital, at least any time soon. However, there are patrons that flat out want everything digital. That is why we offer both a printed program book as well as an accompanying program book app for every one of our clients at no cost to them. For the venues that have started to embrace this, we print a hand-out that their ushers can offer their patrons before taking their seats. Kind of like “would you like paper or plastic?” And we are now starting to see more and more of our clients asking for these hand-outs. Sound familiar? Good Selling!