The Rise of adHub

An Exclusive Interview with Dana Oren, President of adHUB – Canada’s only Print Advertising Marketplace

By: Kenyo Smalling, Staff Writer


LogoStrategic advertising is crucial to the success of both growing and established businesses. Price is always a factor, along with the many other considerations. What medium best communicates my message? How do I excite my target audience? What is the most cost-effective way to reach those clients? These are tough questions which all businesses must address in order to succeed and ensure sustainability in today’s competitive borderless markets. 

Of course, print advertising has long been a primary choice for business marketing. The marketplace is vast, highly competitive, and often unpredictable. Over the last few years, businesses have focused less on the power of print and more on the reach of the savvy web 2.0 Internet. 

Still print is not dead—it just needs a kick! 

Luckily, there seems to be a solution. Imagine an environment where print advertising has all of the advantages and none of the tedious, costly and time consuming hassles. An opportunity like that could reduce the cost of business marketing for start-ups and mid-size organizations that have limited funds to spend and an increasingly small window to take advantage of the market. 

[pullquote]We know we can help all publications improve their sales efforts, online presence and ability to take offers from advertisers[/pullquote]

Could print then reclaim its throne? Our editors at Arbitrage recently sat with the creator of Canada’s first and only print advertising marketplace—adHub. Dana Oren, President of adHub, cleared up some interesting questions and gave some insight into the always-enticing advertising industry. 

We interviewed Oren a few weeks ago about the company’s activities. We would be the first to admit that going in, we thought we had a very good idea of the print/digital world and its business worth. We were quickly given a reality check. It was a good sell: 

Dana, what exactly is adHub and what does it do?

adHub is Canada’s first and only print advertising marketplace. We bring together buyers and sellers and facilitate the sales process of buying print advertising. Basically, we are a cross between eBay and Expedia for print: the ads available on our site are generated by the publications themselves. Advertisers can buy, in real-time, on their own schedule. With adHub, advertisers can seek print ad options without speaking to a sales representative, maximize each dollar allocated to their ad spending and buy in an environment that is rich with choices from all over the country. Publishers are able to sell more ad space in their publications, as businesses are ready to buy and have access to a greater pool of advertising dollars. 

Now that we know what adHub is all about, we wanted to dig deeper with regards to its conception. When asked about the origins of adHub, Oren had this to say: 

When I was on maternity leave in 2008, this coincided with a couple of things: first the economy started to soften, and subsequently print started to crash. Every week, the headlines were talking about how print was dying; and publications, particularly in the US, were getting hit hard with declining readership and ad sales. But I saw this not as proof of a dying media, but rather a problem with operating practices. Having worked on both ends of the advertising industry, I knew that the process was the problem not the product. Much like the music industry tried to ignore the internet, at its peril, print on a business and editorial level, seemingly was doing the same.  

For those that have purchased print, they know that it is a long and drawn out process that almost fully omits the online space. For something as basic as finding out prices, an advertiser usually will call a publication, then get directed to an account manager (who usually are out of the office meeting with clients) leave a message and if they are lucky will get a call back within hours just to find rates!  In today’s world of hyper-information, where anyone can do their banking, grocery shopping and more on the internet, this is absurd. 

As well – I realized that with diminishing revenues, publications did not have the resources to address these changes. See the problem is not in the product. Every serious advertising study shows that print works, and is the most effective medium for advertising. Rather this seemed an operational issue. Thus adHub was born, which provides an easy and effective way to help advertisers and publications put away the old ‘Mad Men’ back-room model of advertising and bring it into the age of the internet. 

It’s clear that adHub offers much value-added for the industry. But, the industry has many types of businesses, some more suitable for adHub’s services than others. What kind of clients are you looking for? 

Well, our market research indicates that small to medium-sized businesses are most inclined to use our service. To them every single ad dollar is important and feel that the ‘shmoozing’ element of marketing their businesses can be cut out. Because our inventory is controlled by the publications themselves, we are not certain how this will play out at the advertising agency level, which tends to work on much stricter parameters and long-term planning schedules. 

[pullquote]We only take commissions on ads that are sold, so its a no-risk and cost-effective proposition for publishers to sell their ads online. [/pullquote]

On the flip side, we know we can help all publications improve their sales efforts, online presence and ability to take offers from advertisers. The best part is that we only take commissions on ads that are sold, so its a no-risk and cost-effective proposition for publishers to sell their ads online. 

Starting and running a massive initiative like adHub couldn’t have been easy. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?  

Well, change isn’t always easy. And this is a new concept in doing business for both advertisers and publications, which are often tied to operating in a manner that is based on the ‘old ways’ of buying and selling print. There has been some resistance in revising methods of operations, though we have received mostly positive feedback from clients and prospects in just how convenient and efficient adHub really is. 

Does the birth of adHub signify the end of print advertising? Is print dead? 

No! Print is far from dead. About 10 years ago, online advertising, before most seemed to really understand it, was insane. Prices were ridiculously high and people were buying it, because they felt they needed to, without seeing much return. When the industry got wise to it, prices collapsed and unfortunately people stopped buying in the online space because they couldn’t wrap their heads around the value of a medium that hadn’t caught up to its hype.  

Content is king as they say, and take for example the Michael Jackson story. When he passed, no one believed it when only online outlets were reporting it. Once people saw it on CNN, they believed it. This attests to MSM, and print as part of it, as the most credible sources of information. 

This was more a situational thing, because today the online space is back with a vengeance however again, people seem to be buying online because they can attribute click-throughs or page-views. However as I mentioned earlier, most advertising data points to the fact that online only works when paired with offline efforts. Or more plainly, a click is meaningless unless it is paired with engagement. Information shows that purchasing decisions are not frequently made strictly from online campaigns. This, also combined with the fact that people do not want to pay for online content, shows that print has a very important place in the media. 

Well, if print is not dead, what can we realistically expect? Given the uncertain nature of the business world, what is your outlook for the future of the industry, and the future of adHub?

Well, I think that print is at a crossroads now. On an editorial level, many publication have gotten wise to using social networking and other online efforts to promote content, but they just aren’t doing it from an advertising standpoint, yet. I think if publishers and advertisers can find an easier way of connecting and doing business, like using adHub, this industry has a bright future. 

The hope is that adHub gets embraced by the industry and that we become the go-to community for print advertising in Canada. We really love and believe in the printed medium, but know that ignoring the internet is a dangerous proposition. 

Dana Oren and adHub have really given us a new perspective on what was seemingly a rapidly diminishing method of advertising. Though ironic, print and the web seem to now have a unique and reciprocal relationship through adHub. The web environment offers buyers and sellers of ad-space a unique opportunity to buy and sell material with as little hassle as possible. It is a seamless bidding war for amazing print material via the all-encompassing reach of the Internet.

With the aid of the net, applications such as this could boost sales and reputations for small to mid-size businesses twofold or tenfold. One notable adHub feature is the bidding. Much like eBay, the bidding does not end at win/loss; you can continue shopping for more ads at your leisure. Its simple: the ads you want, when you want them. adHub’s use of the purity of the web and the authority of print create a holistic approach to business that is both intriguing and refreshing.

We recommend that business owners check out adHub: you may just find your go-to ad agent! To get a first hand experience of a new approach to print advertising, visit the adHub website at http://www.adhub.ca/

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
Business News with BITE.

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