Extra Extra: FirstStreet Partners With Online Newspapers

FirstStreet, a Colonial Heights, VA-based cataloger of home and electronic items, is counting on a new partnership program with U.S. newspaper publishers to grow its business and expand its reach into the baby boomer and active seniors markets.

Through a program started this week, FirstStreet is offering newspaper publishers the ability to generate revenue by including online ads that refer readers to FirstStreet’s Website. It works much the same way as a traditional online affiliate program: Publishers that sign up are provided with links and banners to direct readers to specific pages FirstStreet’s site. Special tracking code and cookies let publishers and FirstStreet track banner impressions, clicks, and sales referred by the partner’s site or e-mail newsletter. Partners can view statistics in real-time via a password-protected, browser interface.

For each referred sale, partners receive 15% commission and partners are credited with sales of referred readers who return any time within 45 days. Newspaper publishers can write articles on any product category or specific product and use articles, press releases, and graphics provided by FirstStreet. Daniel Yonts, the cataloger’s manager of Internet marketing, estimates that the program will help small and mid-sized publishers generate $1,000 to $5,000 a month in commission-based revenue.

The gadgets cataloger, which changed its name from TechnoScout to FirstStreet in 2004 (and before that was known as Comtrad Industries) has enlisted 50 newspaper publishers to begin with and might expand to as many as 2,500 in the future, says Yonts. “We’ve been working on the concept for the last couple of months,” he says. “We feel like we can offer newspaper publishers a couple things: one thing is a revenue sharing – it can be different, depending on the publication–but publishers would get 15% of sales generated.”

And for the past nine months, Yonts says, “we’ve been working on building microsites – stufftalk.com is an example; maturingview.com and we’ve relaunched technoscout.com as a microsite. For the publisher, that means ability to have a connection that draws lot of people to their site and the ability to convert that into other types of revenue. We’re helping them by creating compelling, product-centric copy.”

Yonts says product-centric copy is worded in a “more personable way. It’s more like we’re having a conversation with them. So far, it’s been good. There are a lot of questions and we’re working through each one of those questions and building a dialogue. We’ve definitely gotten interest. It’s early to tell how that interest will translate.”

FirstStreet, which has an annual catalog circulation of about 60 million, hopes the partnership program will allow publishers more freedom in generating product-centric content and that the marketer will to help them create this content, Yonts says. “Of course, sharing revenue is an important piece of our offering, but we feel that the benefits of product-centric content to engage newspaper readers are what will make this partnership resonate with publishers over the long term.”

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