WHY? WHY? Why are some newspaper’s Classifieds flowing with ads while others can barely keep going?

Janet DeGeorge

Jan 1, 2022

A group of popular daily community newspapers centered in and around Port Charlotte, Florida, had over 400 classified ads last Sunday. Let me break that down for you.

BACKGROUND: Running a Classified department used to be very complicated. It was all about collecting and analyzing data under titles like LOST CALLS, WAIT TIME, AVERAGE CALLS PER HOUR. Revenue was broken down not by just one lump total called CLASSIFIEDS, but by Auto, Employment, Real Estate, Services and Merchandise. That is not what I find happening any longer.

TODAY’S WORLD: There are many stories about why newspapers lost their bulk of lucrative, high-profit Classified ads going way back to the start of Craigslist over 20 years ago. If that is the case, then why do so many newspapers still thrive in this area?

What makes one paper have over 400 classified ads on a Sunday, while others of the same circulation only have 40?

Why does one small paper have four pages of Employment ads, while others barely have one, some none?

Let’s take a look at some success stories and try to figure this out.


A group of popular daily community newspapers centered in and around Port Charlotte, Florida, had over 400 classified ads last Sunday. Let me break that down for you.

Merchandise/private party, 187 ads; Auto, 98 ads; Service Directory, 94 ads; then their struggling areas, Real Estate/rentals, 15 ads; and at the bottom, Job ads at only 13.

Our goal: grow that Jobs section! Knowing how much this paper is willing to change assures me they will have great success in 2022.

How does this paper maintain such a high ad count?

  1. Online Ad Order Entry: over 2,600 orders from their system over a year’s time.
  2. Great rates for Service Directory and private party ads.
  3. Great design every day. On Tuesday and Wednesday, those 94 Service Directory ads are in full color display, while other days they are line ads. (See Florida Sun Service Directory.)
  4. Sales reps: experienced, well trained, well respected.
  5. Are investing in their future with a new Jobs section, new jobs website and job sales training.


  • Classified Ad Manager Karen Triplett (karen@thepilot.com) and 1 inside rep.
  • Average 3 to 4 pages of Job Display each Sunday
  • Total 12-page Classifieds on Sunday
  • Job Site: MooreCountyJobs.com

How is this small paper able to sell 12 pages with just two reps who also paginate their own Classifieds?

  1. Design: beautifully designed Sunday product with a full Jobs/Classified section and Real Estate section.
  2. Inhouse artists who have incredible skills, giving each ad “agency” quality.
  3. Great overall newspaper with Sunday sections unique to their environment (Hoofbeats, the equestrian section).
  4. CAM who is also a top sales rep but works as a team with the inside rep.
  5. Enhanced results: Increased Job advertiser results with weekly email blast of advertisers highlighting every ad.
  6. Service directory: Tripled their line ads by establishing a default 2x2, well-designed format for every Service Directory advertiser.


For a long time, this mostly black and white Classified section sold small eighth-page Job display ads. To modernize, they had to jump through many hoops to change, but they never wavered.

  1. Biggest challenges: artwork outsourced, pagination outsourced, color restrictions.
  2. Overcame challenges with new Jobs/Classified section in full color!
  3. Job section record 31 Job display ads; 3 half pages, 11 quarter pages, 17 8th-page job display ads!!!
  4. Very motivated inside reps just made it happen with some training and focus.


This is what it takes to have a successful classified section once again. At all these papers, the publisher was fully on board and truly believed in making the CHANGES needed to once again beat their budgets with growth in classifieds. These papers put in the hard work, the managers did an amazing job reinventing what they offered their advertisers, the sales reps were motivated and rewarded well for their new sales, and the newspaper won by adding a more advanced, modern classified product for a better reader experience.

Bottom line: You have to have the desire to change and redesign in real ways, you need at least two reps who are well trained and well rewarded for their sales, and you must be fully ready to invest in your classifieds future with great new job websites.

Janet DeGeorge is president of Classified Executive Training.com and specializes in the redesign of Classified products as well as sales training, efficient and easy rate plans, commission plans that motivate, and an overall customized strategy to grow newspaper classifieds, regardless of your local environment. You can contact her at 602-717-7473.