Daily Mail Buys Full-Page Times Ad to Promote Automated Ad Sales

Offers Free Dollar in Programmatic Ads for Each Dollar Spent Directly

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Jon Steinberg, CEO-North America at the Daily Mail
Jon Steinberg, CEO-North America at the Daily Mail

The DailyMail.com ran a full-page ad in The New York Times on Monday to promote its automated ad sales in the U.S., offering $1 in free programmatic advertising for every ad dollar spent the traditional way.

The promotion, called "Programmatic Match," is basically a buy-one, get-one free sale on DailyMail.com in the U.S. Here's how it works: Companies and media-buying agencies that buy $150,000 or more in ads directly from DailyMail.com staff in the U.S. get a credit for that dollar amount to buy ads on the site using its automated ad-buying system.

The shorthand term for automated ad-buying is "programmatic."

Companies that want to buy custom ads on DailyMail.com -- such as native ads, homepage takeovers and custom video -- must do so directly through a salesperson. Everything else can be bought using a machine. Those ads are "above-the-fold, viewable inventory," according to Jon Steinberg, Daily Mail's CEO for North America.

"It's almost like a gift card for advertising on the site," he said.

Certain rules apply. For instance, Daily Mail will only match what marketers spend on the site up to $1 million. The program begins Monday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on March 31. And the credit for free advertising must be used during that time.

DailyMail.com, formerly MailOnline.com, is a U.K. newspaper with one of the most-visited newspaper websites in the U.S. and the world. In November, the site attracted 46.6 million unique visitors in the U.S. across desktop and mobile devices, according to ComScore. That's a 26% increase over the previous year.

But the site suffers from a "Madison Avenue challenge," or lack of exposure in the U.S. advertising community, according to Mr. Steinberg, who captained BuzzFeed's native-ad strategy when he was president there.

All of DailyMail.com's revenue comes from advertising. During its most recent fiscal year, which ended in September, Daily Mail made about $19 million in revenue from its U.S. site. That's more than double the roughly $8 million in revenue it got the year earlier but less than its traffic might suggest.

Although Programmatic Match will likely bolster U.S. revenue, profit margins will be squeezed because of the inventory that's given away in the process.

But Programmatic Match is meant as a big move to grab the attention of media buyers and brands, according to Mr. Steinberg. "We have a giant audience, people love the site, but we're very much an up and comer on the radar of the agency community," he said.

He wouldn't disclose the projected cost of giving away ad inventory and declined to say how much the Times ad cost. "It wasn't cheap," he said. A full-page weekday ad in the Times business section, where the ad appears, costs $214,733, according to the newspaper's rate card.

In 2013, the Daily Mail introduced a playful advertising campaign aimed at consumers and advertisers. The campaign appeared in subway stations and bus stops, as well as in trade publications like Ad Age.

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