This I found interesting – if only for the fact that it touched on a conversation I had with one of the good gentlemen listed to your right. Well, on the home page right. Anyway….


I mentioned time at JEECamp the other month as one of those straws that I cling to; the fact that our average visit time for the month of January on was 436 seconds. And as they, on average, visited the site three-and-a-half times that same month, by hook or by crook we managed to grab their attention for, what, 25 minutes a month.

About the same length of time as one episode of EastEnders.

Or rather Coronation Street. EastEnders doesn’t build advertising around it. 

Anyway, to quote Mr Mutter… “In the first three months of this year, the average amount of time visitors spent on newspaper sites fell by 2.9% to 44 minutes and 18 seconds per month, or less than 1½ minutes per day…

This, he contends, is a problem.

“If drive-by surfers continue to generate a growing proportion of newspaper traffic, will advertisers put a high enough value on these relatively fickle visitors to pay the premium rates necessary to continue funding these elaborate, content-rich websites?

“I wouldn’t count on it…”

Nor would I. Because over the last couple of years I’ve long since discovered that you can pull all manner of tricks when it comes to hits, page visitors, unique visitors, etc, etc…

The one where it is hard to pull the wool over any advertiser’s eyes is time. How long are the eye-balls glued to that page…

And this should, in theory, give us all hope. Because with the tables now fully turned on us, the multiplication of choice facing our one-time reader means that we have to work that much harder to command their attention…

The average ‘drive-by surfer’ recognise a re-hashed quote from 50 paces; one glance and he’s gone. ‘Nah, read it… Seen it before….’

And that’s why stuffing newspaper websites with aggregated and re-aggregated copy won’t work; the eye-balls will linger over what’s new, what’s fresh and what they haven’t see before.

And, hopefully, what’s well written.

Because what are people looking for? They’re looking for a good read, in Clay Shirky’s famous words.

What they are not looking for is a re-read, a re-hash and a re-nose. They haven’t got time for that. Give it to me fresh and first; that’s where the value is; that’s where the eye-balls will linger longest.

Give it to me fresh, first and in a form that proves a good read, time and time again, then people will return time and time again. Keep me informed; keep me entertained; keep me happy. Or else I’m outta here…

That’s the challenge that the multiplication of media presents us all with – getting them not only to drive-by, but to park up. To surf, to see and to stay.

And in the midst of that challenge, quality will count.


If only because I laid my Google revenue cards on the table early on… 

…this was interesting, Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine and Guardian column fame doing the same… and, in paricular, what Google did for him last year.

For those of you who are hard of linking, the two paragraphs to put side-by-side are, first the MFW ‘experience’… 

“Take, for example, our Google AdSense numbers since March ‘07.

“406,002 impressions, 846 clicks…. $223. So I did Google a disservice at JEECamp. Apologies. When I said $180 for 400,000 page impressions I was $40 out and 6,000 page impressions under. We made £110 in a year…”

To be then followed by the Buzzmachine one…

“Last year,, which has been in business, loosely speaking, since 2001, made $9,315 (£4,655) from two blog ad networks, $1,866 from ads on my RSS feeds, and $2,674 from Google ads, for a total of $13,855. Though I’ve written many a blog post and column lamenting that there aren’t better, richer ad networks to support grassroots media, when I add that up, I’d say it’s not too shabby…

I, however, would describe our own Google ads income as shabby. If not particularly shabby. Or, indeed, utterly shabby. I might also describe it as someone having a laugh…

And let’s make several things clear; we’re not running like-for-like – it’s a horribly inexact science; the comparisons don’t stand up; we didn’t, for example, run AdSense for a full calendar year; if we had, who knows? We could have cracked the $300 mark…

But what I would be intrigued to know is just how hard our Jeff had to work to earn that $2,674…

Given that Buzzmachine has ‘loosely speaking’  been in business since 2001, he’s clearly had to work his ‘brand’ for at least five years (2001-2006) before earning a thousand quid off Google in Year Six…

I earned my princely sum off 400,000 page impressions – and all on the back of busting my b*lls twice a day to deliver two, great 1,000-word ‘sticky’ reads to the waiting Norwich City masses who, come January’s transfer window month, were 33,000 monthly uniques strong.

Plus we had coulmnists, characters and all sorts. We worked – indeed, still work – our collective n*ts off draging football punters to that site with a quality journalistic product that, we hoped, would offer enough context, comment and quotes that it would not only drag eyeballs there, it would keep eyeballs there.

And, touch wood, it appears to work. That’s back to my 436-second average visit time for the month of January. Seven minutes every time they visit.

Because it’s a passionate niche. Just as the future of news is.

What would be very interesting to discover is just what numbers generates in terms of uniques, page impressions and average visit times to pop a cheque for £1,300 from Google into Jeff’s hands at the end of the year….

I’ve no idea. I read it most days. As, I suspect, many a media-luvvie does.

And because it is, more often than not, a well-informed and engaging read, my eye-balls stay fixed. And if, for argument’s sake, me and Jeff run at roughly similar numbers per month – my versus his – then fair enough, he cracked the Google nut more than I did.

Maybe – he says, looking for his excuses – Jeff is actually mining a richer niche seam; that the ads that appear on his site are far more click-appealing than those that ever appeared on ours; that maybe ‘football’ and ‘Norwich’ never quite made sense as ads.

And maybe it’s just a case of being patient – that come Year Six, 2012, I too could be pulling £1,000 a year back off them. In the unlikely event I was still pinning many of my hopes on Google by then…

Don’t know.

Fotunately, we didn’t put all our eggs in Google’s basket – and, nor, of course did Jeff. He’s got two blog ad network tickets working his brand; covering his ass to the tune of £4,500 a year.

Me? I’ve got Kev acting as MFW’s tail-end Charlie – trying to pick off every local advertiser we can find; as well as those national ones that like the cut of our demographics. Three cheers for the British Army… newly-signed up for a year-long banner ad deal on all three sites.

It’s still a tough nut to crack. Very tough in these credit crunch times. But they’re out there; all starting to think what they would do next if they didn’t have a local evening paper to advertise in… And if I can pull, say, £2,000 per month off the Norwich site in Pay-Per-Month advertising, that’s not too shabby either.

Particularly, if we can then find further revenue streams to add to our income bow.

Because that’s the real point. For all we do, for all the hours we write and for all the pavements we pound, the jury is still out as to whether advertising of any sort will – on its own – be enough to save our bacon.

And that applies to all of us. From The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times down… is there enough value in what we ‘sell’ in terms of advertising space to guarantee our survival?


Just ask our Jeff. Without a column or two up his sleeve, a consultancy here and there and a teaching gig at CUNY, could he survive on $13,855 a year. Just over six grand…?


Exactly. No.



I knew there was something else. Something else that had niggled away all day.


That’s brilliant. Top spot. Or if not spotted, then illustrated.

And while we’re handing out medals, I stumbled across it on Martin Stabe’s blog.

What the newspapers concerned do next will be fascinating to watch. Cos I’d show Google the door…

Don’t get me wrong, Google is the biggest and best taxi service in this web-world; they get me from A to B in an instant. But being an oh-so ‘umble news provider, I’ve never quite got the best out of the other string to their mighty bow, advertising. There again, I don’t have Ernst & Young advising me…

But as a taxi service, superb. They bring the punters straight to my door.

But go back to marvellous Martin, and let’s talk it through. I’m a Norwich fan; I’m not, be we digress…

I’m a Norwich fan; fancy seeing what’s in the Telegraph; so I hail my Google taxi, ‘To the ‘Telegraph’ pal…’ and they arrive at the front door…

Now at this point – if I were the Telegraph – I’d open the door, let the punter out and tip the driver before he left. And then it would be a case of walking with them into our newly-decorated hallway and asking them where they’d like to go next…

‘Sport, please…’

‘Of course, sir. Step this way….’ all in the hope that, en route, they’d notice the fact that we’d actually just had the hallway done; that something smelt nice in the kitchen.

Strikes me that our Google taxi driver is now through the hall and up the stairs before anyone has had time to notice.

Having arrived in the teenage kid’s bedroom that does for ‘Sport’, I can then rummage away through the drawer of dirty underpants until I get to the one with the Canary logo on the front. But if I was The Telegraph, The Guardian, etc… I’d want the taxi driver to be still stood on the front door-step waiting for my return and then to be told where to go next.

Because if I was those ever-so clever people from Google and I did that ‘Taxi for Telegraph Sport: Norwich City run…’ often enough, the next time I hailed a cab, they would have been able – through force of my habit – to predict exactly which smelly drawer I wanted to go to thereby missing out whatever was on the hall, on the stairway and in the bedroom altogether… and it would be their predictive advertising adorning the landing walls….

Now if all I was ever interested in was getting so many uniques into said bedroom drawer and wasn’t that bothered how, exactly, they got there and how many muddy feet were trampling over my newly-laid search carpet in the hall, then fine.

But if we think that the great circulation battles of the future are going to be for the global ABCe’s, what happens if – as an advertiser – I’m now faced with The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail all locked in and around the 15 million uniques per month mark?

Where’s my next measure?

I think – or rather, I hope – it’s time. That within those four walls of your digital home you provide enough ‘sticky’ content to keep the eyeballs lingering over what’s on the hall table, what’s left on the landing, etc, etc… for longer than any of your nearest and dearest rivals.

I’ve dealt in fag packet numbers for the last two years; I’m not about to change.

But, let’s just say, that to get to said dirty pants drawer it takes me four pages – on a first visit. Five seconds, in total. Provided, of course, that I haven’t stepped in anything ‘sticky’ en route.

And let’s say my 15 million month uniques on average visit twice a month.

That’s 30 million visits; average ‘journey’ time to what’s behind the fridge, in the bottom kitchen cabinet, behind the lamp in the lounge, etc, etc… is our 5 seconds. On average.

30 mill x 5 is 150 million seconds; that’s 2.5 million minutes; that’s… ooh… five years worth of eye-ball time a month I’m giving away cos I won’t ask the taxi driver to leave his passenger at the front door.


I spent, ooh, at least two minutes this morning trying to find the right biological term. And failed. I thought the word I might be looking for was ‘osmosis’ – but I’m not sure it is.

Should have stayed awake in biology…

Anyway, what I wanted to describe was the way in which local advertisers are starting to buy into this whole ‘long tail and water lilies’ type idea and can be ‘sucked’ up moisture-up-roots fashion.

New to that notion, where have you been…? OK, here’s the link…

So, that’s the image to bear in mind – of water lilies and long-tails… tails that drop down into the murky, rich depths of local journalism. Where the good stuff is – be it in either content or advertising.

And up that tail goes rich, sticky stories; to be felt and sold at our ‘piece’ market, by ‘mother’ – be it MFW or MLW.

But what is interesting about this whole long-tail concept is the fact that it is not just editorial content that can be drawn up towards the sunlight. Cos ‘local’ advertising can come too…

OK, here’s our Nigel; bright lad; runs the village garage. Services our cars.

Out of the side of his garage he also runs a little scooter empire; ESS Scooters, complete with its own website. ‘Natch.

And here’s his ‘sky’ ad. As made up by our Nick.

Which originally appeared on And, just as the British Army and Norwich City College have twigged, there’s a decent demographic ‘fit’ there; lads and football. Good place to find some likely eyeballs if you’re selling scooters, too. Good way to get to Norwich City College…

So anyway, this being Loddon – getting towards the heart of bandit country; the Waveney Valley badlands that separates Ipswich folk to the south and Norwich folk to the north – me and Kev wondered whether he’d like to advertise on the Ipswich site,

‘Natch, he said.

Oh, and we’re opening up in Essex in January; fancy a run on the Colchester site; do you a deal… Essex boys, scooters…?


Because? Because the web has set little local firms free; just as it might little local journalists.

And having signed a nationwide courier deal and opened the doors of his web-site for on-line business, our Nigel – all from his little showroom tucked away on an out-of-the-way industrial estate – is now flogging bikes to punters in Fort William, in Birmingham, in Leicester and beyond.

Is he going to take out individual adverts in the Birmingham Mail, the Leicester Mercury, etc, etc? Or is he going to work out of a convenient network? One that gets him to the on-line eyeballs that he wants?

So up the tail he comes… fancy Sure… do me a deal…

The Internet has set him free commercially; he has a global shop-front and with a courier deal in place, he can deliver his products – deliver the ‘content’ of his little showroom in the back end of Loddon – to wherever his customers are.

That’s why being local in focus but national in scope can work… because these days thousand upon thousand of local businesses are, likewise, learning to be exactly that.

Nigel can put his scooter outlet into the palm of people’s hands. The breadth and range of his potential customer base has exploded. And he’s intent on taking full advantage.

Give him an elegant, simple opportunity to develop his brand across a network and you’re sucking up local advertisers towards the water-lilies and the sunlight; you’re not asking the likes of our Nigel to wander off and find Mr BlogAds or whoever and then asking for a price to cascade ‘down’; this is local advertising working from the bottom up.

Nor, of course, is he entrusting an algorithm to find him the eyeballs he wants; he can see where he thinks the lads will be looking for himself, thank you very much.

Clearly, it’s not an answer for every local business; some will only want eyeballs that are within 30-minute drive time; you won’t get too many takers for Norwich City College on the terraces of Ashton Gate, but there is something going on here; something that ought to work going forward – that if you can re-organise yourself sufficiently elegantly that you can be local in focus, but truly national in scope then local advertisers will come too.

We are, it seems, travelling the same bumpy road together.

Apologies if we go back to the same ‘source’ material again. And this time, I’ll give the author his due – Mr Anthony Lilley, take a bow.

But the more I read it, the more gems you find. With the same on-going proviso – that you read it through the eyes of a wood-stainer. For whether by accident or design, it bangs nail after nail on the head.

Or at least gives some great starting points for a discussion.

This baby, for example.

“Our use of media is shifting to find a new balance between the creation and distribution of content as we have known it in the age of mass media and the active participation of citizens.

“We are entering the age of “our media” – where the communication of ideas amongst groups and the sharing of content are at the heart of what’s going on…”

Spot on. The new balance between the distribution of content as we have known it and the active participation of citizens… Very good. Cos that’s new media gold – how to crack that interaction without moderation nut. As it stands, most of us have discovered only new media green on that score.

Am I going to run a messageboard community off and spend my life enslaved to a moderating screen as anonymous 14-year-olds from their bedrooms Ipswich have a pop at Norwich…? Er, no.

Not as a responsible publisher with a family-friendly brand to protect. A post for another time, but that tide is on the turn was the feeling from both the floor and the platform of Paul’s JEECamp the other day.

I’d also take a different view in terms of the age of “our media”. No surprise given the fact we’re running and, but I’d say it was more the age of “my media” – something, you presume, Shane and his myTelegraph set-up would concur with.

This bit is good. Particularly if you insert the word ‘newspaper’ into the mix.

We already have a splendid system of media distribution using the mass media technologies of television, film, radio and, to some extent, the first generation of the web.

“Indeed, broadband networks have the added effect of improving this environment still further by facilitating access to media on-demand.

“But even this change from a scheduled world of media scarcity to a plentiful world of traditional media available on-demand represents a significant challenge to the assumptions and models of mass media players…

Newspaper hats on and two phrases leap out – “media on-demand” and “a scheduled world of media scarcity“, ie I want my news now and not when the paper-boy deigns to finally show and that “scheduled world”, one that for 400-odd years has been enslaved to the deadlines of a print press. And as such was able to keep media scarce.

And that’s a big, big word in this digital age of ours. Cos if media is scarce then it has a value. Simple supply and demand; keep supply scarce and the demand will push the price up.

To my mind – and that of Clay Shirky – the demand for media is not the problem. Everyone still wants a good read, just as they still want to listen to good music, etc, etc…

It’s the supply side that’s the problem. Media is everywhere. News is instant and universal. And free.

“Traditional media are at the zenith of their powers when they are distributing information and providing entertainment.

“These are powerful human needs; but they are not sufficient for life in the 21st century as the force of globalisation flatten our world. We are not in the information age; that has passed. We’re entering the networked, learning age…”

Sit down with a bank in these current, credit-crunched climate – and I suspect this will apply just as much to TrinityMirror, Archant, the LA Times, etc, etc, as much as it will to me and – and that’s our biggest, biggest problem. Proving value.

If I can get this for free, on the web, what’s the value in your newspaper? Or, indeed, your website? Somewhere in all the recent talk of share prices halving, that fundamental thought is going through the minds of the markets. Where’s the value? When media was scarce, yeh, sure I get it… Now it’s everywhere. And costs me nothing. Where’s the value?

Because the ‘scarcity of media’ applies just as equally to the distribution of advertising as it does to the distribution of editorial content. For 400-odd years, there was only one local advertising platform in town – and that ad only ever got as far as the furthest paper-boy.

Now we’re in this ‘networked’ age and that ad doesn’t need a paper boy to carry it; advertising ain’t scarce anymore, that’s everywhere too. Where’s the value in that quarter page ad? Heh, and I’ll keep myself in the newspaper boat – where’s the value in that banner ad? What’s so special about you? Where’s your added value?

And for all of us the answer we have to urgently hope lies in that one word – that not only are we in this networked age, but we’re in this “learning” age…

Because if information is everywhere, what it actually means is still – thankfully – quite scarce. Or rather those that actually know what that information means are still quite scarce; those that can add the ‘learning’ to a football score, an on-line police rap sheet, a roadside death in Iraq, and all those other bland, bald pieces of information that don’t come with education attached.

That’s why I look at with huge admiration – in all but one, key regard. I want to learn from it, not be informed by it. Information is everywhere; learning isn’t… what do I learn from a hygiene report? A police crime stat? I want the analysis, the colour, the background – and I want it from a source that I respect and trust.

That’s the value.

One night last autumn I discovered I had 24-hours in which to submit my final proposal for this year’s Knight News Challenge; boy was the midnight oil burned.

But in my hour of desperate need, I found a quote from Bill Keller as he warned that for all this explosion of information on the Internet, the supply of reliable news reporting was dwindling.

“What is absent from the vast array of new media outlets is, first and foremost, the great engine of news-gathering – the people who witness events, ferret out information, supply context and explanation.”

There’s your scarcity; there’s your value; there’s our future.

Now explain it to a bank.

I have to tread very carefully round this subject. Very carefully.

But as we all know the news the other week that Archant (Suffolk) were pondering the possibility of replacing 20-odd sub-editors in Ipswich with advertising designers prompted a furious debate in media circles.

It prompted an interested debate in one or two domestic circles, too, given that my Mrs is still a part-time sub with Archant (Norfolk).

But it is interesting; the role of a sub – particularly in a purely digital context. Cos we don’t have one; I guess you’d say we ‘self-sub’ – that as me, Mark and Nick sit at our various kitchen tables across East Anglia, we try and deliver as clean a piece of copy as we can; literal and libel free, whenever possible.

But, being human, the odd mistake still slips in under the radar. It hoppens.

And here’s the interesting bit; where the sand is shifting beneath a sub’s feet. Because if I spot a literal, I go back into the CMS, click the edit button, make the correction and re-publish. And no-one need be any the wiser.

If your audience comes and goes as they please – as opposed to coming and going as and when newspapers demand – then you put a story up at 11.35am, re-read it when it’s up at, say, 11.48am, spot a literal and change it, then it might only have been read and spotted by, say, 20-odd in your daily 4,000-readership. For the rest, as and when they ‘get a mo’, it’s clean…

Now there are aspects to all this that make football-writing a little different; if we were running, say, then I suspect we’d put a few more safeguards in place. That said, I suspect the onus will ever more be on the reporter to know their legals – that’s where the responsibility will start and, all too often, end in a world of nigh-on instant publishing.

We’ve had one big legal in our two years; but that again was instructive. Long story the moral of which was never, ever trust a football agent. But the point was we held our hands up, whacked a correction up on the site within two hours, deleted the offending story and moved on. Quickly.

The wronged party was pleasantly surprised how swiftly and professionally the matter had been dealt with; he saw the correction on the site; a day later and it was gone.

Because there’s another interesting point – how long do these issues linger on the web as opposed to print? If newspapers are only ever tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, what does that make a web-story? If it disappears off into our archive 36-hours after it’s been published – or, indeed, is deleted or corrected – then, for me, web stories are far more ephemeral than any newspaper story…

Clearly – at the right/wrong moment in time in front of the right/wrong pair of eyes – they can be just as damaging and can develop a whole, viral life of their own as they sweep across the web-waves via message-board after message-board.

But they don’t quite have this same, tablet of stone, there for time immemorial quality that a newspaper story has. And with that comes the heightened need for a sub – on newsprint you’ve got one chance to get it right; there’s no going back. On the web, you can always go back. That creates a very different mind-set. Very different.

But what was equally interesting in the debate that raged was the emphasis everyone placed on the whole check, check, check argument. For me, it under-played the other great duty of state under-taken by the sub-editor. To cut, cut, cut.

Not with a butcher’s cleaver; more with a surgeon’s scalpel. Or, at least, that was the theory. When time and management allowed.

That was the sub’s great craft; that yes, a reporter-stroke-news desk would push copy through that was roughly to length, but it was the sub that got it to the line; got it to measure up. A tweak here, a little line out there. They got it to fit.

That’s how I learned – as the ‘sports department’ on the Gazette & Herald, the weekly Sunday football round-up filled the outside leg, 25cms depth under a four-deck, 30-point headline.

Can’t remember the word-count now, but say it was 500. Trouble was the old boy that contributed the Devizes & District Sunday League wrote for Britain.

A 1,200-word tome that was a nightmare to crack down to length; for the change page, his oppo from the Chippenham & District Sunday league wrote 250 words on the back of a fag packet, but still expected to see his four-deck, 30-point headline and 500 words of polished copy – just like they get in Devizes….

The web changes everything.

We still write to length. Somewhere in the region of 900-1,000 words. Twice a day.

That way we can split two, chunky 500-word reads over two pages; double our page impression numbers; have eight ad slots as opposed to four.

No-one’s being short-changed – 500 words is still more often that not longer than most evening newspaper back-page leads. Certainly the ones that I wrote for 13-odd years.

But the web doesn’t need copy to fit to the line; nor do you have to look for nasty ‘widows’.

It flows. And if you’re dealing with a passionate niche like football and you know that your readers will lap up every last spit, dot and comma, why cut?

And if you’re looking towards an advertising-metric that might be drifting to one that’s ever more time-based – how ‘sticky’ is your copy? – why cut? Keep the eye-balls there; don’t leave any quotes on the cutting room floor.

And if you haven’t got a 4×16 garden centre ad in the bottom left corner and 5×24 action pic in the top right, why cut?

And if you’re not cutting, not tweaking, not getting copy to fit to the line; if you’re self-checking and self-correcting, dipping in and out of your own CMS as and when you spot the od literal, then the role of the sub simply becomes, well, just kind of part of what we do; it’s not anything special anymore; it’s just another strand to our new, digital DNA.

As, I suspect, will be the ability to make-up an ad; to be our own DIY ad department running alongside our back-bench come kitchen table.

I’m sure our Luca’s sick and tired of people having a pop and I’m not about to re-visit that Ersnt & Young report; I’ll let these boys do that – and, whilst you’re there,

And I was thinking about this the other day as we started to wander our way around this whole local advertising thing.

Because the other model that appears to have slipped under the Ernst & Young radar is PPM. Has anyone actually done PPM yet? It’s pay-per-month.

It’s very simple. Me and/or Kev wander into a local advertiser and, say, ‘Here you are, fella, give us a 150 notes and you can be on our site for a month…’

What can then follow is a conversation that would make Jeff Jarvis’ head spin and our new best pal Luca reach for his triangles.

But it’s a conversation that again needs to be slipped into next autumn’s course-work because out there – where the metal meets the meat, so to speak – it’s a conversation that the next generation of local, self-financing journalists need to have.

Because not everyone they encounter will, actually, have a website. But they may still recognise a good, banner placement opportunity when they see one.

And for all those thousands and thousands of little local firms out there who have known nothing else but advertising in their little local paper, you have to hold them by the hand and lead them oh-so gently across the great divide and into this whole new world of digitally-based advertising.

These are busy people; with small ad budgets and even less time than most to worry about the latest CPM rates; PPC ratios, etc, etc… We’re back to Ady and the man from Google. Out there, down Sprowston Road and up Martineau Lane, you just make their lives as easy as possible.

And if they have grown up paying £250 for one night in an evening newspaper, then the next step is to say: ‘OK, how about £150 for 31 nights on a local website…’

Gently, gently catchee monkey… Let’s start with PPM. Let’s go from there.

Here, you go Luca. Take yourself up Aylsham Road – if memory serves it’s just before the Bingo – and there’s a pawn-brokers. Good lads. Not yet got round to getting a website.

Busy people. Times are hard; business is up.

But you bring an ad-make up function to the party – and this is what our Nick down Norton Road knocks me out…

Now, it is not about to win any awards at some swish London bash; this isn’t Saatchi & Saatchi – this is a pawn-brokers half-way up Aylsham Road in Norwich; and he’s got a second place out Lowestoft way.

But to my little, local mind – that ad looks good.

And what is more important, that simple PPM ad makes that pawnbroker feel good.

I bet, quietly, he’s quite proud of his new – if not, first – web presence. After 30 years running virtually the same ad in the local paper, now he’s got that to show his family and friends.

Whether it actually drives him new business, who knows? Depends, as ever, as to whether or not he asks every customer who walks through his door where they saw his ad.

But it’s interesting – and very telling as to what you can actually do out there on the front-line; what models you can actually get to work at a local level. Cos if he actually likes the way his ad looks on-line, then there’s a sneak of a chance that come the end of his four-month PPM, he’ll book again.

Just like he used to do when the lad from the local newspaper used to pop his head round the door. ‘Same again..?’ he’d ask.

‘Yeh, go on then…’ they’d reply.

That’s how they’ve given local newspapers a living for donkeys years; that’s how – in part – they might, just, give local news websites a living, too.

It’s still mights and maybes. Ifs and buts.

But PPM and pawn-brokers; we ignore them at our peril. For let’s face it, way things are in our line of work, we may all need cash quick…

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