Rogers strikes Web deal with Hearst

Canadian Web surfers seem to have a curiosity for all things south of the 49th parallel.

Roger Media Inc., however, intends to re-capture these wandering Canadian eyeballs for local advertisers by partnering with the Hearst Magazine Digital Media group, one of the leading Web site networks in the U.S.

Under the deal, which will take effect on Nov. 1, Rogers Media will become the exclusive Canadian sales agent for ad spaces in Hearst Digital’s properties.

“The number of Canadian eyeballs visiting U.S. Web sites is undergoing strong growth,” according to Louise Clements, vice-president of digital properties for Rogers Media.

A partnership with Hearst Magazine, however, will enable Rogers Media to provide Canadian advertisers an opportunity to reach out to local consumers checking out American Web sites, Clement explained.

She said the combined reach of the two companies Web site network represents “very similar premium online properties.”

Rogers Media digital titles participating in the partnership include: chatelaine.com, todaysparent.com, louloumagazine.com, canadianparents.com, flare.com, glow.ca, macleans.ca and canadianbusiness.com.

The Hearst properties involved in the deal include: cosmopolitan.com, marieclaire.com, ecrush.com, espinthebottle.com, teenmag.com, cosmogirl.com, goodhousekeeping.com, redbookmag.com, seventeen.com, caboodle.com, quickandsimple.com, mypromshopper.com, myholidayshopper.com, mybacktoschoolshopper.com and thedailygreenshopper.com.

Hearst did not return calls for comment at press time.

The combined inventory will enable advertisers to increase their reach while both companies will also cross-promote print subscription sales and drive traffic between each other’s sites, according to Clements.

The collaboration is largely content and advertising driven and is not expected to produce any technical issues, she added.

But technical issues are almost certain to crop up in the long run when two online systems are merged in the course of similar partnerships, according to one Toronto-based digital marketing specialist.

“In the short term, amalgamating sales and advertising forces would do. But a more effective collaboration would consolidating online systems,” said Nick Dumitru, creative director of Basis, a full-service Web marketing firm headquartered in Toronto.

He said consolidation of online infrastructures would streamline system management, harmonize rollout of marketing campaigns and content as well as provide opportunities for cutting operational expenses.

“Ideally identical functions are identified, better systems are kept and practices are standardized throughout the organizations.”

Software challenges, Dimitru said, could include the deployment of compatible database driven software that will allow teams to quickly load and manage advertising content on multiple dynamic Web sites.

On the hardware side, severs of partner companies should also be interoperable to run both ad systems.

“It’s typical for companies undertaking such a move to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the technologies belonging to the partners involved before making any changes or blanket erasures,” Dimitru said.

This evaluation takes into account which functions and systems can be consolidated to homogenize processes and cut cost.

When undertaking such changes, he said, it is important to make sure that staff members that will be affected are “onboard.”

“There’s always a lot of room for creativity when you open up the discussion and receive feedback from the trenches.”

He said it’s uncertain yet how the Rogers-Hearst merger will affect the Canadian online marketing scene. “It could drive ad prices up or it could push prices down.”

Dimitru believes similar partnerships are driven in part by the need to compete with Google’s online advertising strength.

As larger companies consolidate, smaller networks will likely be driven towards boutique advertising or creating niche markets for themselves, he said.

edit@itworldcanada.com

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