Second Street Award winners reflect a year of engagement

Lessons to be learned from success stories of these top engagement campaigns of 2016


Every year, we search through the engagement campaigns run by our over 3,000 media partners. From quizzes and sweepstakes to ballots and emails, we work to find the most standout examples to showcase in our annual award show.

It seems like the entries for the Second Street Awards get better and better each year. This year’s 8th Annual Second Street Awards was no exception. With outstanding success stories in over 25 categories, our winners and finalists are making one thing clear—media companies are striving to make engagement their top priority.

Here are four lessons learned from our award-winners:

1. No Advertiser is Beyond Your Reach By leveraging custom solutions, you can consider every advertiser in your market a potential new revenue stream. Our finalists and winners illustrated how engagement campaigns can work beyond your traditional advertisers like grocery stores, hospitals, and restaurants to even unique, niche advertisers like foot pain stores, local attractions, and asphalt companies.

The Steamboat Pilot, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, had the opportunity to work with a brand new advertiser, the Steamboat Movement Fest. This local yoga festival was looking to increase attendance for their upcoming event. With a unique coupon code on the bounce-back email, the sweepstakes directly lead to over 100 paid registrations. Not only did the festival increase their own revenue by $23,000, but they also signed on with the Steamboat Pilot for nearly $6,000 in future campaigns.

When KRON-TV was approached by UrbanSitter, a baby-sitting company that was looking to target local families, they came up with the idea for a Back to School photo contest. Not only would this draw in the right audience, but by also providing all entrants and voters a $75 credit for the company, it generated business for them right away.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Your Database The most successful media com panies are placing a ton of value on growing their database. Time and time again, email proves to be the most effective driver of engagement outpacing all of your other tools. But the true value of your database should mean much more than just an email address. The more you can learn about your consumers, the more effective your database will be.

WKJG-AM in Indiana turned a pair of tickets to the World Series into a huge database growth opportunity. In just two days, not only did their sweepstakes drive in over 20,000 opt-ins, but they collected a huge amount of data for targeting upcoming campaigns for themselves and future advertisers.

In their very first year of running a reader’s choice ballot, the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., was able to find tremendous success. They collected over 17,000 email addresses for their database and, additionally, were able to identify tons of data on their consumers based on the categories they chose to cast their votes. Beyond that, the ballot generated over $250,000 in revenue for the paper—and now can’t wait to repeat the ballot again this year.

3. Choose the Right Campaigns to Produce the Right Results Different campaigns can achieve drastically different results. While it’s easy to keep going back to the same tactics that have worked in the past, the top programs are leveraging a variety of engagement campaign types to produce the specific outcomes they want to achieve.

Looking to increase event attendance for their Home & Outdoor Living Show, the Citrus County Chronicle in Crystal River, Fla., had many different possibilities to achieve a similar result. While a sweepstakes might have brought in a slew of entries and a quiz could have given them a lot of data, their photo contest had the added benefit of being shared by the entrants seeking out votes. This single contest added over 7,000 emails to their database to contact about the event.

KY-TV in Springfield, Mo., has an existing relationship with advertiser Silver Dollar City, a local theme park. While they’ve traditionally run sweepstakes for the park in the past, the station wanted to try something new. They created a quiz all about the advertiser’s history and attractions. Plus, they entered all quiz-takers into a giveaway of family pack of tickets. More than 3,000 people took the quiz hosted on the advertiser’s Facebook Page.

4. Make Engagement Your Top Priority Whether you want to drive more annual sales revenue, increase attendance to your upcoming events, or boost the ad impressions and pageviews on your site, the key is to increase and deepen engagement.

GateHouse Media, winner of this year’s Groupwide Strategy Award, made a companywide decision to prioritize audience engagement. They built a dedicated team, created a promotions division, and their initiative had top-down support from the CEO to the regional directors and publishers. In just one year, their “all-in” approach to engagement led to over nine million dollars in revenue across their group of sites.

Looking back over all our finalists and winners, it became clear that the top campaigns and top programs are ones who are consistently making engagement their top priority. They’re not settling for the same things they’ve done time and time again, but carefully choosing and crafting campaigns to produce the exact results they want to achieve.

You can see the complete list of winners and finalists, plus watch a recording of the event at Matt Coen is president and co-founder of Second Street, a Saint Louis-based provider of private-label online promotions platforms for media companies.

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Matt Coen is president and co-founder of Second Street, a Saint Louis-based provider of private-label online promotions platforms for media companies.