Fast Track: ‘Agency Strategies that are Paying Off for Local News’ | via @socialnewsdesk

The sales playbook for local news orgs looks a lot different than it did 5 years ago. Most now include a wide array of agency-style services that lean heavily into the world of digital marketing. And while there are plenty of deals to be made, many local-media companies are struggling to connect the dots. What are we selling? What will the client get in return? How will we deliver results? What will it take to scale?

If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions – you’re not alone. Most major media brands are still in the early stages of figuring it out… looking for new tools and best practices that will yield big revenue. At Social News Desk, we’ve dedicated a team to figuring this out with you. We’ve talked to and tested with hundreds of local news orgs. And we’ve put together some key points to consider as you build and mature your internal agency strategy…

What are we selling?

Sure, let’s start at the beginning. And let’s focus specifically on social-media marketing. (It’s worth noting, there are other services your internal agency may be selling but social-media is our lane and we’re staying in it.) Now, you have two main options when “selling social media”… They are:

  1. Branded Content: An advertiser buys a co-branded Social Ad/Post such that your news brand and the client brand are displayed together on the Ad. Content is sometimes just general news and other times it’s specific content from the advertiser. These are sometimes published to the newsroom’s Facebook Page, but don’t have to be – dark posts are a great option. Click here to read more about selling Branded Content.
  2. Reseller Ads: An advertiser buys a Social Ad from you with the goal of promoting their business on Facebook/Instagram. The ad contains their content and their branding. It does not mention the news brand. You act as a middle man between the advertiser and Facebook and charge a markup for your ad-buying services. << If you are selling this (or want to start) – keep reading.

What will the client get in return?

Like any good sale, your objective should first be to ask the client what they want to achieve. Never lead with what you theoretically could do for them. That said, here are a few common objectives and how you might position the sale:

I want new leads.”

  • Ad Objective: Lead Generation
  • Pricing Strategy: Budget Based
  • What Can I Promise? It’s very difficult to promise a certain number of leads per dollar because industries vary so much. You may need to frame this as a test so they can see real results and decide from there whether or not to continue.
  • Markup: 80-100% of spend (So if the total budget is $1000, you spend $500-600 buying the ad from Faebook, and keep the rest.)

“I want clicks to my website.”

  • Ad Objective: Website Traffic
  • Pricing Strategy: Estimated Number of Clicks
  • What Can I Promise: On Average, it will cost between $0.10 to $2.30 per click. Based on the budget, you can estimate results. Note that this CPC number will fluctuate over time.
  • Markup: 80-100% of spend (So if the total budget is $1000, you spend $500-600 on the ad itself, and keep $500-$400)

“I want to sell more products.”

  • Ad Objective: Reach (Awareness)
  • Pricing Strategy: Estimated Number of Impressions
  • What Can I Promise? On Average, it will cost between $0.75 to $4.00 per thousand impressions. Based on the budget, you can estimate results. Note that this CPM number will fluctuate over time.
  • Markup: 80-100% of spend (So if the total budget is $1000, you spend $500-600 on the ad itself, and keep $500-$400)

How will we deliver results?

So, this is where the rubber meets the road. SND’s Head of Innovation, Apryl Pilolli often likes to say “Sales sells the dream…and the agency is stuck fulfilling the nightmare.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, Apryl has led our team in developing tools and training materials that streamline and simplify social-media ad buying (aka fulfillment) so you can easily measure, deliver and report on the results your Sales Team promised. Here’s how:

  1. Create a simple Order Form or Insertion Order (IO) – Make sure the client/sales rep fills out the same details every time. These should include:
    • What is your Facebook Page URL
    • Do you have an Instagram account and is it linked to your Facebook Page
    • What is the Campaign budget?
    • What is your business goal? Select from Leads, Traffic, Awareness
    • Who is your target audience (ie geo, age, behaviors, interests etc)?
    • What elements are important or unique and should be featured in copy or creative?
    • Do you have any images or videos we can use?
  2. Put someone in charge – This might be as simple as assigning this to a single person who’s already on your local team, or it may be that you spin up a national/region hub to handle fulfillment company-wide. Either way, the key is for someone (or a small team) to own the task of fulfillment.
  3. Find tools that work – Facebook’s Ads Manager is free and the truth is, you get what you pay for. It’s clunky, buggy and can waste a ton of your time. But it’s often the place agencies start when first selling social-ads. When you’re ready for something better – that’s where we come in…

What tools will work best for us?

Ok, spoiler alert. We think our ad-buying platform: SND Campaigns Manager is the very best there is in terms of fulfillment for local-newsroom based agencies. Here’s how it works; you can be the judge:


  • Supports Dynamic Creative with Multiple Videos & Images for A/B testing
  • Add Multiple Copy Variations to Deliver the Best Combination to the Right Person
  • Crop Images to Maximize Impact on Mobile Screens


  • Better Performance with Objectives that Drive Business Results
  • Maximize Margins by Automatically Turning Off Ads when They Reach Their Goal
  • Allows for Easy Lead Capture and Notifications



  • Campaigns are easily duplicated month to month
  • Smart UI with Best Practice Recommendations


  • Reports across Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter
  • Can blend results from Paid and Organic Campaigns
  • Perfect for Clients – Does not Contain Spend Info!

If that looks simple, it’s by design. Every feature you need is there. And anything you DON’T need, isn’t. It’s quicker and more reliable than Facebook’s own Ads Manager. Plus we’ve built in templates and duplication features that make it much easier to scale.

What will it take to scale?

Funny you should ask! The truth is, you already have the most critical component to scale agency-style sales of social media ads. Relationships, relationships, relationships. Your SMB clients trust your sales team to offer solid ideas on how to grow their businesses. The rest is nuts and bolts. But here are a few pointers:

  1. Know what you’re selling, be specific. See above.
  2. Create systems and transparency between sales and fulfillment.
  3. Watch your margins. Take advantage of tools that stop serving an ad once the goal is met. This means more money goes to the bottom line.
  4. Keep an eye on headcount. More ads doesn’t have to mean more staff. Give your team access to tools that allow them to work smart, not just hard.

Ready to see more? Hit me up for a live demo or test drive.

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