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Newspapers Smell Profit In Scented Ads

Scentisphere will give <i>The Wall Street Journal</i> and <i>USA Today</i> an odiferous experience.

Thomas Claburn

January 29, 2007

2 Min Read

With the Internet siphoning marketing money from newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today think making a stink will improve the bottom line. The two publications plan to test scented ads to bolster print ad revenue.

The Wall Street Journal's plan, disclosed during a recent earnings call, is still being worked out, according to a Dow Jones spokesperson, and no advertising clients have been announced.

A spokesperson for USA Today confirms that the newspaper is planning a scented ad trial shortly, in the hope that aromatic ad units will deliver better results for marketers.

The two papers are working with a company called Scentisphere, which sells a product called Rub'nSmell. Unlike the scratch-and-sniff technology that has been around for some 30 years, Rub'nSmell represents a significant advance because it can be applied directly to printed ads as an ink, says Bob Bernstein, president of Scentisphere. No separate print run to create scented inserts is required.

"Scent, until we came along, had been something that only fine fragrance companies had been using," says Bernstein. "And that's because the delivery system -- the Scratch N' Sniff or the Snap-n-Burst insert -- is a very expensive process. And there's never been an economical way for consumer packaged goods companies to deliver scent in their ads."

The expense is largely the result of having to print the scented ad as a separate insert. "You have to pay for it to be printed, you have to pay for it to be inserted, and you have to pay for two pages of advertising," says Bernstein. "With our technology, the capsules go right into the printing press." He claims the cost is between 20% and 33% of a traditional scented insert.

"By putting a scent on the ad, what you're really doing is increasing recall," says Bernstein. "Scent is the strongest trigger of memory, and it basically translates into increased sales, which has been proven now by the companies that are using our product. Some of them are responding with astronomical numbers, increases of sales exceeding 25% that are strictly attributed to our product."

Typically, Scentisphere works with companies to produce fragrances associated with their products. A client like Procter & Gamble would supply a scent and Scentisphere would encapsulate the signature fragrance in its varnish.

Scentisphere says it can also help companies create a unique scent for a product. "If you were, for example, Apple, and you wanted to develop your own custom corporate Macintosh scent, that would cost maybe $1,500 to $2,000."

If a product does not have a signature scent and the manufacturer isn't inclined to create one, Scentisphere can provide stock scents from various scent makers. The company lists a few redolent possibilities including chocolate, fresh cut grass, leather, and (really) marijuana.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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