NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- "Local" is already an over-used word for media businesses trying to find promising new ways forward. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are busily ratcheting up local coverage in big markets, for example, while Topix, AOL's Patch, MSNBC.com's EveryBlock and others are fighting for anticipated hyperlocal spoils around the country.
But there are reasons for all the interest. Some media companies think small towns are teeming with businesses that could become regular advertisers, if only they were given the right opportunity.
Others think combining national branding campaigns with more local traction and services could help push shoppers into stores better than either component alone. It's that thinking driving a new unusual pact between Elle magazine and C, a lifestyle magazine focused on California, to collaborate on selling more ad pages and services to advertisers.
The deal means Elle can offer its big national advertisers the chance to "heavy up" in both Elle and, using C magazine's resources, key California markets such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. "If you run a handful of pages in Elle but not with C, for a slight increase in your total spend, you're able to increase your presence in Elle and layer on C," said C publisher Lesley Campoy.
What C magazine offers
The titles are also offering to collaborate on custom programs for advertisers. "Doing the larger national buys are crucial to building a brand," Ms. Campoy said, "and you really can't extricate that from your marketing initiative. But really, what brands are looking to do more and more is drive traffic, whether it's in print media or digital media, but also in feet-on-the-ground retail initiatives, in-store events or mailing programs."
Elle already offers something similar for advertisers who want to go more global, giving them incentives to spend more in global editions around the world in addition to their U.S. buys. "Now global is important, but even more, local is important," said Anne Welch, VP-brand publisher at Elle, part of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.
As the recession has pummeled ad spending and increased marketers' obsession with justifying every dollar they spend, publishers are looking for new ways to sell more print advertising and other services to them.
Elle has fared better than most magazines during this period, at least in terms of ad pages, but it has still suffered. The title's 2009 ad pages dropped 21% from their 2008 level, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, compared with a 26% drop across all magazines tracked by the bureau. C magazine said its 2009 ad pages also dropped 21%.
Elle's ad pages in the first quarter of this year actually grew 5% compared to the terrible first quarter of 2009, while most monthlies saw ad pages drop another 6%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. C's March issue -- the first issue of this year after it published a winter issue combining December, January and February -- saw ad pages grow 28% over March 2009, according to Ms. Campoy.