Innovate Local: How a new ad product helps Bonnier News create value for readers and local businesses

2024-02-26. In this article, based on our second Innovate Local webinar, we focus on Bonnier News Local’s ad product “Handla lokalt” (Shop Locally), which is easy to understand, easy to buy and has a natural link to social media – all of which makes it attractive to advertisers.

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor | February 26, 2024

This story is part of Innovate Local’s series of bi-monthly webinars. Innovate Local is the only truly global program for local media professionals. It’s built on WAN-IFRA’s mission to support a free and independent press. We’re building a global hub for knowledge sharing and networking around the future of sustainable local journalism. And we invite you to be part of it. Innovate Local is open to everyone and free for WAN-IFRA Members. Join Innovate Local

By Niklas Jonason

Summary: Bonnier News Local’s ad product “Handla lokalt” (Shop Locally) is easy to understand, easy to buy and has a natural link to social media – all of which makes it attractive to advertisers. Advertisers’ social media posts are tagged to automatically show up in a shared voice widget on the local news site.

This creates a win-win-win for advertisers, publishers and readers: Advertisers get direct access to readers – in a trusted local news channel – with updateable messages in real time. Publishers can, at low cost, sell visibility to local advertisers, who pay a set monthly fee and create their own ads. Readers find all current, relevant local ads from retailers in one place.

Background of Bonnier News Local

With over 2,000 journalists, Bonnier News is Sweden’s largest news provider and one of the Nordic region’s most important media groups. Its channels reach an audience of 6 million readers, listeners and viewers every day (which represents 65% of the countries’ population over 19 years old).

Among the groups 200 brands are a number of Sweden’s largest and most well-known national newspapers. The Bonnier News Local business area, established in 2020, includes around 40 local news brands.

The challenge of getting local advertisers

To place an ad on a local news website can be expensive, and cumbersome for small and medium sized companies that want to reach consumers with their messages. This challenge was particularily articulated during the pandemic when margins got tight and the need to communicate with consumers became a necessity in order to survive.

Bonnier News started looking around for an easy to use and understand ad product with which its 40 news sites could offer advertisers the ability to reach the target group in a channel with high trust and in a local news context.

A promising answer to the challenge

The sales organisation at Bonnier News quickly found a solution in the product “Shop locally” provided by a Norwegian software supplier (please see name and contact information at the end of this article). This clever ad format enables customers to easily connect their social media account (Facebook or Instagram) to an ad position at the local news site by simply using a hashtag.

Many (but not all) local customers already use social media to reach out with their message. An added value with this workflow is that the ads get a unique organic and authentic touch. And of course, no complicated self-service user interface is needed. Advertisers simply use the social media tools that they already know well.

As soon as a post is tagged #shoplocally, it immediately appears in the widget. Customers pay a monthly fee and need to sign up for a 6 month or one year subscription. The price is determined by the traffic of the website and can range between €150 and €200.

How did it go?

We are now out of the pandemic as of a couple of years. How did the new ad format do? Well, the product works well. Small businesses do everything by themselves and pay the invoices sent from Bonnier News (and not through Facebook or Instagram).

As an example, the ad format shown above will from the month of March 2024 bring in about 25–30 advertisers to the ad format in the local sites and, both news sites and parts of Bonnier News. The product does not require many resources.

A local sales representative and a central product developer/owner is enough. Concerning improvements, Diana Kahsay, the product developer at Bonnier News, mentioned getting customers to create more creative content. A challenge, that we can sense, is that not all sales people at Bonnier News make the effort to present and explain the product even though it has a very simple workflow.

We believe that everyone who attended the webinar on 21 February could feel the enthusiasm of Anna Olsson, the person that closed the sale of the ad shown above. Kahsay mentioned that maintaining product revenue is challenging in a tough economic environment, but that has more to do with the economy in Sweden generally and is true for all advertising.


Learnings and takeaways

Bonnier News most important take-aways have to to do with the advertisers’ side of things. Diana Kahsay listed the following:

Keep close contact with customers and give suggestions on what they should think of when posting with a hashtag.

Think closely about what kind of content that creates engagement

What works well for advertisers is (as always): offers, creative content and clear messages.

Internal learnings at Bonnier News mentioned by Kahsay:

Make the widget more visually appealing

Be creative – the product solution can be used for more or less any customer! Bonnier News has had the following advertisers in the particular format: car dealerships, the Church of Sweden, schools, municipalities and local associations.

What’s next?

Product developer Diana Kahsay and sales representative Anna Olsson are enthusiastic about the future for the product “Shop Locally.” In addition to increasing the promotion of the product by all local brands sales organisations, Bonnier News is planning to use it for other business and service categories among local advertisers.

Another idea is to experiment with different formats including moving content and customising the design of the widget.

Useful links and contact information

The Bonnier News product “Shop Locally” is based on the product “Local Offers” from Norwegian-Ukranian software supplier Innocode.

A very short video about the product from Bonnier News:

You can also contact Niklas Jonason, the author of this post, at the WAN-IFRA Innovate Local team if you have questions:

This story was first published on our Innovate Local website.

WAN-IFRA External Contributor

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