I Didn’t See This Coming: Psychic Scores Big On Twincities.com

January 5, 2011

I was all ready to tweak the St. Paul Pioneer Press,  where I used to work as a reporter and editor, over the most recent deals offered through its Groupon-style “Daily Deals” program.

But something funny happened as I was saddling up my high horse. I discovered that maybe the Pioneer Press knows its online visitors fairly well.

Pioneer Press tanning adIt was yesterday’s offer that initially raised my hackles. There it was, displayed prominently at the top of the Pioneer Press homepage, a discount on a “custom airbrush tan.” The ad, in typical low-rent Internet ad style, showed before-and-after pictures of a model in a pink bikini. I know traditional media companies are desperate to make money online, but this ad seemed awfully close to the bottom of the barrel for a mainstream newspaper site.

Today’s offer is a doozy, too. A psychic offering half-hour readings for only $12! That’s it, I thought, enough is enough. Time to tweet my outrage about how low my old employer has sunk.

Pioneer Press psychic adThen I clicked through and discovered that more than 70 customers had already signed up for the reading by Minnesota psychic Rachel Silva. Not a bad haul for the psychic and the Pioneer Press ad platform.

Clearly it’s a hit-or-miss operation. The airbrush tanning deal won only 18 buyers, not enough to trigger the deal. But the coupon for psychic reader was hot, so clearly the prominent ad spot for the daily deal attracts attention from a receptive audience.

For the Pioneer Press and its owner, MediaNews Group, every dollar counts. And kudos to them if they’re reaching the right people at the right time in the right place.