The Wednesday Short – October 2, 2013

This past week as some of baseball’s favorite players retire in different markets, we saw some different ways of teams honoring the players and players honoring the fans. In particular, we saw Todd Helton take out a full page ad in the Denver Post thanking fans for supporting him throughout his career. Additionally, Major League Baseball took out a full page ad in the New York Post, New York Daily News, Metro New York, and USA Today thanking Mariano Rivera for his service to baseball. Both of these were very nice gestures. For Helton, to thank the fans was a classy move by a player many consider to be the biggest star in Rockies history. In the case of the MLB, also a nice way to honor a great player.

However, it made me wonder, why the newspaper? Many stats point to an industry in decline. As people’s media consumption habits change, is the full page ad in the respective city’s daily paper the route to take? Does this mean as much today as it did 10 or more years ago? If the paper is read by less people, or if less time is spent reading that product, then does the ad have the same impact?

As more people turn to the internet to consume their news, follow their favorite teams, and do many of the things they used to rely on TV, radio, and print media to do, then shouldn’t this gesture also migrate to the internet? Should Todd Helton or Major League Baseball have completed homepage takeovers of local daily news sites? Or the YouTube masthead ad unit geo-targeted to these markets? Or a pre-roll video on YouTube? Or some strategic display ads on key properties across the country? The channels where this could have been deployed are numerous. Potentially, having a landing page featuring video’s of Rivera’s best moments, or a text field where you could send Rivera a message for his retirement? The online channel has unlimited possibilities for these type of executions.

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At the end of every sports season, we see the odd full page newspaper ad thanking the fans. In general, it is a classy gesture and a great way of getting the message of thanks out. This was the first year that I thought a digital counterpart was necessary. If newspapers are going to be consolidating, or receiving lower circulation, or people’s time is spent more so online, then maybe it’s time to consider moving that full page ad to a medium where the fans or end users will see it.

Jeffrey Lush

Jeffrey Lush is Co-Founder of Sports Business Canada and a weekly blog contributor. Follow @jlush709 on Twitter.