top of page
RuneSkrindo.png

Rune Skrindo, Head of Commercial Strategy and Product Manager for Recruitment, Real Estate and Other Classifieds

May 15 2024

Attracting local advertisers: How Amedia is reviving traditional recruitment and real estate advertising, delighting readers with local opportunities

Most of us have done it. You found a job and, you found a home. Both have fundamentally local focus – the closer the better. While the prevailing view in the industry is that these types of classifieds markets are lost forever, Norwegian news group Amedia has revived them in digital and now lead in driving discovery for non-active seekers.

Presented by Rune Skrindo, Head of Commercial Strategy and Product Manager for Recruitment, Real Estate and Other Classifieds

By Niklas Jonason

Background on Amedia

Amedia is a local news publisher with 135 newspapers all over the country. Every year 10-15 newspapers are joining the group. Around 30 of the total 135 news brands are online only. Recently the group launched four completely new titles in agriculture and forestry.

Disappearing "classifieds"

Different types of market driven advertising such as real estate ads, job ads, car ads go under name of classifieds. In the back pages of the printed newspaper ads filled up and took up many pages of column of ads. To separate the different types of objects there was a classification with headlines such as : Real estate, jobs etc. That is why they were called classifieds. Today many of these markets have moved online and are, in the online industry, called verticals, still referring to for example jobs, real estate etc. There are also horisontals that cover several markets (such as the horisontal web site Finn.no launched in year 2000, the dominating horisontal in Norway, which is owned by Amedia's competitor Schibsted, and that leads the market in jobs, real estate, vehicles and many other vertical markets). 


In the early the 2010s the group Amedia realised that if nothing was done, recruitment and real estate advertisers would disappear from its pages. Both markets were fully operating and market values were bigger than ever. However these ads were still disappearing from the pages. The problem was inside Amedia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amedia management gave Rune Skrindo the task to turn the trend around and increase sales of classifieds. "Houses for sale and open job positions are the most local news you can have," said Rune. Before joining Amedia, Rune Skrindo was with Aftenposten, the major morning newspaper in Norway (also owned by the Schibsted Group) and before that he worked many years at the media agency side. With his accumulated experience Rune was ready to take on the challenge.

The repositioning plan to get back the jobs...
and the real estate ads

With finn.no the market for job postings had changed. Rune understood early on that Amedia would need to switch to a national job database to be able to compete. The traditional print ads were not only expensive, but also increasingly irrelevant. They had been replaced by digital. 

Amedia had previously tried to compete with Finn.no with their own horisontal and with their own national brand. However it was challenging to get users and advertisers to engage with the sub-brand. Rune realised that this time the local connection was crucial for success. 
The conclusion was that Amedia had to develop its own national job database.

Previously some large newspapers within Amedia had their own jobs database (the branded horisontal, trying to compete with Finn.no, had been closed). The decision was taken to use the set up of the job database search page of one of the news sites and "re-code" it so that all newspapers in the group could use the same set up. Instead of one local national database there were soon 135 versions. This new platform, which took about 3 months for one programmer to create, was launched in 2020 and was quickly spread to all titles within the group. Adjustments such as exposure of the local brand, different colours and pre-set geography was made for the different titles. When entering the database through the local news site the user sees the local brand, the local colour that she or he is used to and only local jobs. However the search can be expanded to cover other regions and even the whole country.

This meant that one single product was launched in all 135 news titles, however with a local touch. In addition local carousel ads positioned on the actual news pages of the titels were added to the package (se screen shots below).

The concept was quickly copied for real estate.

Pricing and packaging

Rune realised simple pricing and packaging was important for both sales and customers. The product needed to be easy to understand and easy to buy. A one product strategy was worked out with one simple fixed net price identical between all titles that included the national job database and positions in the front page carousel ad. The price was devalued, in some places, to just a quarter of the previous price. No discounts. The price is fixed also regardless of the traffic of the newspaper web site. The advertisers have two options:

  • the basic package with one news site (for one week) and the national database for approximately €250 or​

  • the premium package with four news sites and the national database for approximately €400  

 

This sound simple and obvious. However it took some work to convince local decision makers within the group, especially those newspapers which had higher prices. 

An important precondition for success was not only the right price and packaging, but also interfaces to the IT systems that recruiters use to produce, buy, publish and distribute their digital job ads (these systems are labeled Application Tracking Systems, ATS in the recruitment industry – every large company with employees has one). These interfaces (or Application Programming Interfaces, APIs in the lingo of programmers) are necessary for simple, smooth and automatic workflows from the display screen of the recruiter to the database and carousel ad of the news site. The ATS that count in Norway and that Amedia connects to, can be seen in the slide below. It is important to point out that the unified pricing and packaging with one product and one price is the only possible way to integrate with the buying platforms.

Everything described and shown here, such as the database, the database user interface, the search, the object view, the carousel ad and the Interfaces/APIs has been developed in-house at Amedia. The programmer at Amedia also worked through similar interfaces to back-end platforms of the real estate chains. With the back-end systems in place, Amedia had access to every single ad in Norway in a fully automatic work flow.

Growth instead of death

As soon as the local sites had launched the product. the revenue started to stabilize and turn to growth.  

And as soon as Amedia had the digital recruitment ad information or the object information including images for a house for sale, Amedia could suddenly produce a variety of digital media formats for the object for sale such as display, social media and content marketing in the form of native ads. This variety of digital ad products can be offered to advertisers "on top" as soon as the work flow is working. Examples of additional products to the national database and the carousel ad that Amedia can offer are:

  • Display banners and live feeds as stand alone for individual real estate brokers

  • Native formats and content marketing in the form of editorial articles (markets as ads) 

  • Live take over banners (se Nyhet in slide below - which means New product).

Key success factors

When asked to list the key success factors Rune mentions:

  • "Simplicity for both central and local coworkers in Amedia as well as for advertisers is the first and main point. We have one product and one price that is easy to understand and buy."

  • Easy integration to both external buying and internal booking and publishing systems (that builds on the previous necessity of one national price and one national product, that is one national standard uniting all newspapers). This allows smooth and automated workflows. No human needs to touch the ads.

  • Other ad types such as display (large take over to small banners), live feeds and native article formats can be offered in automatic or semi-automatic workfllows.

Challenges 

As often is the case, hard decisions has been taken and difficult priorities has been set;

  • Going from a several local to one national product in pricing and packaging was a mental journey for some people inside Amedia. This meant for some titles that the price was devalued down to 1/4 of the previous price.

  • The technical system had be rewritten from scratch. Rune had to spend time to convince decision makers that it was clever to do this work centrally even though it had to be done "on top of everything else". Our impression is that the bottleneck for Runes is still getting access to software development resources. All work has been done with internal coders. The bottleneck of coding is something the reader that has got this far into the article probably recognize.

The top tip

Rune concludes with his top tips for any organisation that wants to copy the work of Amedia in classifieds (or verticals) with two things. Simplicity in every way, such as product, buying process, integrations and flexibility is absolutely necessary and pricing needs to be according to position, aligned with competition and the wallet of the customer. This means a minimum price for a maximum product that is better and with more options than the market leader and that is simple to buy and as automated as possible in the work flow.




 

The Q&A session

Rune gave the following comments to questions that came up after his webinar presentation:

  • Question: "If strategy, product, price and packaging, tech development and systems are provided by the central organisations, what is required locally?"
    Answer: "Sales is done locally. Sales at Amedia is organised in six regional sales teams that each takes care of a geographical area. Decisions on product, pricing and packaging and development are taken centrally in agreement with local decision makers as far as it is possible without changing the general product strategy. Discounts are not permitted."

  • Question: "Are there differences in the sales results in the different regions?"
    Answer: "The short answer is yes.  There are huge differences but that is our own fault. It is not the customer's fault. However that problem is easier to work on now that we have one product and one price. This is the first time that this happens under the Amedia roof," Rune replies and adds, "It is my responsibility to build the product and help everyone, but sales is done locally. There are huge differences between the regions. However we are hoping to have the teams learn from best cases and through sharing experiences"

  • Question:"Has there been any reaction from newsrooms and from the users? Have they noticed?"
    Answer: "From readers and users the reaction is positive. Most newspapers did not have these products before – not the carousel nor the job and real estate databases. And those who had it, had just a local database. Journalists were also positive of course".

  • Question: "You pointed out that the technology is similar from market to market. Are you planning to introduce other vertical markets?"
    Answer: "We are working together with an external technology partner to offer a similar, but also somewhat different, product for funeral agencies and death ads. Regardless of the market you are trying to build something for it is the same thing every time. It is copy and paste work actually.The frame can be copied to cars, motorcycles, boats and other classifieds. It is just a matter of presentation. Under the hood is about the same thing."

Useful links and contact information

The webinar presentation of the Amedia-case on jobs and real estate, as made by Rune Skrindo, can be downloaded here.

  • Amedia corporate web site is www.amedia.no 

  • Rune Skrindo can be reached on this email address: rune.skrindo@amedia.no and his mobile phone number is
    +47 913 72 165. Rune's title is "Head of Commercial Strategy and Product Manager for Recruitment, Real Estate and Other Classifieds".

 

 

Links to some services mentioned in the presentation :

  • Here are some links to check out the database and the carousel ads (please note that ads may not show depending on the country where you are surfing from or the time when you are visiting the site)

    • A "large" local title that offers both products is Drammens Tidende that covers the region of Drammen just west of Oslo. At the time of writing a live banner can be seen for real estate in about the fourth screen and a carousel for jobs further down when scrolling on the starting page www.dt.no. The local job database is here  and the local real estate database is here. 

Above: A carousel ad for jobs at Drammens Tidende (TD).

Above: The job database at DT

Above: A banner ad for a house for sale at DT pointing to the object for sale in the real estate database.

Above: The object for sale shown in the banner, above is here  seen in the object view of the real estate database.

  • A "small" local title that offers both products is Nordlys in the north of Norway, based in the town of Tromsö. At the time of writing a carousel for jobs about ten screens down when scrolling on the starting page www.nordlys.no. The local job database is here  and the local real estate database is here . For the observant reader that follow us closely we want to point out that Shop Locally - the product we covered in our second webinar i February also can be found on the web page of Nordlys. Here is the link to the write up and recording of the webinar: https://www.innovate-local.org/bonnier-news-shop-locally.

Above : A carousel ad for jobs at Nordlys

Above : The job database at Nordlys

If you know of other relevant cases of reviving and successful classifieds, verticals or horisontals, please let us know and we will add the information here. Thanks in advance! We plan to come back to the topic for future webinars this autumn.
 

While chatting with Rune after the webinar, he asked me about an idea that I think is worth mentioning here. Rune asked the question: "What about if we can cooperate over borders on this and share databases and technology?".

You are welcome to contact me, Niklas Jonason, in the WAN-IFRA Innovate Local team, if you have questions or examples of similar services...or if you want work on Rune's vision to share databases and technology over borders: n.jonason@wan-ifra.org

bottom of page