Learn more about Willy Grant of Great West Media, LMA Innovator of the Year, sponsored by AdMall


Thank you to AdMall for sponsoring this category and guest writing this blog.

In our always-on, increasingly digital world, it can be a challenge to capture consumer attention. Last fall, Willy Grant, director of digital at Great West Media based in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada came up with a new idea to engage readers of the 10 newspaper websites she oversees. Her idea did so well that she was awarded the Local Media Association’s Digital Innovator of the Year: Sales/Advertising Award for 2021, sponsored by AdMall by SalesFuel.

Grant’s team sells ad space on their owned media. Their digital marketing services include SEO, selling off network and social media advertising and management. That work, along with news and editorial content, allows GWP to attract 750,000 readers and score 1.8 million page views monthly.

Branded Content and Display Ads

In her quest to grow revenue and increase visibility for her organization, Grant looked into branded content offerings after learning about the category from the Local Media Association. She designed a special section package, and her reps sold nine branded content projects ranging from local food producers to cannabis.

One popular category, RV Lifestyle, serves as an example of this successful initiative. For one year, the sponsoring business, a local RV dealer, will own the ads surrounding the special content devoted to the RV life. The editorial content ranges from a review of Alberta campgrounds to a discussion of which parts RV owners should keep on hand. And the content covers topics that wouldn’t normally be part of the general news cycle.

By expanding the news coverage in the local market, the publication is reaching new readers. As readers recognize the sponsoring business, they begin to view that business in a very positive light. At the same time, the surrounding display ads allow the dealer to showcase different products and services. The content and the ads change weekly and will run for an entire year.

The branded content has been so popular that Grant created a smaller ad category for businesses that can only afford to participate at a lower price point. Businesses buy these packages for a three-month period and more than one advertiser can buy ad space that surrounds the content. All Things Bridal was an especially popular topic earlier this year, and Willy and her team are currently preparing their Spring Agriculture segment.

Huge Revenue Opportunity

The initiative has generated $150,000 in the space of four months. Grant expects to see that number triple by the end of the year and is pleased that this product line has a better-than-average profit margin. The branded content package is likely to become one of the top three revenue streams for the year. According to Grant, reps love to sell this ad space. Because they are from a newspaper environment, they can relate to the placement of ads next to content. They find it easy to sell. The newspaper is gaining new readers, and the advertisers are connecting with new customers. All around, this initiative has been a win-win.

The Power of AdMall from SalesFuelLogo for AdMall, Powered by SalesFuel

Media sales reps will find it easier to promote digital packages when they can show prospects what their target audiences are paying attention to these days. AdMall’s Digital Audit reveals the text and display ads a business has recently purchased and how much of the audience responds to those kinds of ads. With that kind of data in hand, reps are one step closer to closing a deal.