The Sparks Chamber of Commerce is offering its members reduced rates for ads on its electronic sign on Victorian Square. The typical rate of $299 per month has been discounted to $100, a savings of 67 percent, for a 12-month contract.
Businesses can also purchase ads for less than 12 months at $150. Each spot is displayed for six seconds and the special offer will be limited to 100 advertisers. For a business, according to chamber executive director Len Stevens, this amounts to 115 views per day.
Jesse Cook, web administrator for the chamber, said the offer provides an advantage to smaller businesses that struggle to pay advertising costs in this tough economic period.
"Prices are coming down," Cook said. "Before, advertising might have been kind of expensive to do and results were never guaranteed. Now it's coming in a way where small businesses could afford more advertising and get their message out – and get a little more bang for their buck."
The chamber has hired a part-time employee to design and manage the ads on display. The 30-foot sign runs from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. in full color. Cook said it runs efficiently for the city because it's not as large as the signs of the casinos and not nearly as gaudy.
The electronic sign is particularly useful for the area's special events, including Farmer's Market and Hot August Nights. Ads for such events make up about 25 to 40 percent of the screens shown daily.
The discount is indicative of a new push by advertisers to build clientele and reinvigorate the ability of businesses to market themselves. Radio advertising has grown in popularity and representatives have become more aggressive in targeting prospective clients, Cook said.
"Companies like Charter (Communications) have scaled down a little bit of production," Cook said. "They're obviously making small changes, making things a little bit more reasonable. Lotus Radio has a program where they take some small businesses and agencies and give them freeradio advertising so that those local dollars could go toward taxes and help schools and police and fire departments."
Along with its electronic sign offer, the chamber is in the process of redesigning its own Web site, which will be launched later this year.
In the long run, Cook said, the economic downturn isn't necessarily a bad thing for companies and may even prove beneficial.
"There are a lot of positive changes; things get a bit more competitive," he said. "To me, it seems like businesses want to become more creative in the way they do business. People say ‘Bad is bad is bad,’ but if you don't have your ups and downs, if you weren't challenged, how could we ever spend and grow and really ascend? If you didn't have downtime, businesses would be lazy and never do anything extra special."