PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The goal for every website, including newspapers — especially newspapers — is to get visits. Traffic. Engagements. Clicks. Impressions. Eyeballs.

People.

In other words, the more people see our content, the more people see the advertisements.

So the team at The Berkshire Eagle does everything we can to bring in those visitors. Local news stories, local sports, eye-catching photos, fun videos, and of course, sponsored content.

But the most successful content on our newspaper’s websites?

The contests.

“We recently started to test content technology on our website for a couple reasons,” said Letty Acosta, Regional Director, Digital Strategy & Revenues for The Berkshire Eagle. “We wanted to see how many impressions we can drive independent of our regular content. Our very first test over a two-week period drove 150,000 impressions.”

That means people visited the contest page, submitted entries, looked at the other photos, and saw the advertisements 150,000 times.

“We tested a few more contests and found that with the second, third, fourth contests, our impressions jumped to the 300,000 mark,” Acosta added. “If you wanted to reach 300,000 impressions on a television network, that would cost you $5,500. That doesn’t include the creative and filming process, plus all the extra changes.”

So The Berkshire Eagle embraced their contest platform as a digital solution and a way to bring readers directly to the advertisers. In 2021, they recently concluded HomeGrown: From Gardens to Gables, which was sponsored by Whitney’s and HD Reynolds, showcasing the best gardens in the region. Our Trunk Or Treat Halloween contest, brought to you by Carr Hardware, is slated for October.

The goal is to run many hyper-focused contests on a specific subject, which will allow readers to engage with the site. Some contests get more attention and excitement than others.

“Our pets contest was our most popular contest, and we had more than 1,000 pet photos uploaded,” Acosta said. “One reader called every single extension in our office just to make sure we received her pet photo. You can’t get a more dedicated engagement than that and we love it!”

Harvest Happenings kicking off

Our Harvest Happenings contest kicked off on Sept. 15, and once again, our readers will have an opportunity to do an online scavenger hunt to find three to four hidden objects. They’ll submit their answers through our online entry form, and we’ll give away prizes to a few lucky people who submit forms with all the correct answers.

“Readers like it because it gives them a chance to opt into our newsletters,” said Beth Maturevich, Advertising Sales Representative, Downtown for The Berkshire Eagle. “Advertisers like it because every single advertiser gets a digital landing page and they get to show their own Who, What, Where, When, and Why in a Google Standard Format.”

“Then we hide the icons in the advertisers’ landing pages and direct people to visit the actual ads’ landing pages,” added Maturevich. “They’ll have to look at every ad to find the objects, which means they’re actually reading your ad.”

The Harvest Happening is a way to showcase all of these contests, even as readers come to the section to find out events for pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and anything else fun for kids and adults to do. The Harvest Happening gathers all that event information into one place for the entire community.

“By adding the contests, we’re making it fun for our readers who are still stuck at home. Plus advertisers are getting more value because we’re getting so much traffic for this particular digital section,” Acosta said.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock, the Fabulous Invalid theatrical production company, and Whitney’s Farm Market & Garden Center are all sponsoring the Harvest Happenings contests as a way to easily reach their target audiences.

“Choosing The Berkshire Eagle to advertise our play ‘Call Fosse At The Minskoff’ was an easy decision — it’s been the paper of record for Berkshire County for decades now,” said Jamie DuMont, producer of The Fabulous Invalid. “And BerkshireEagle.com is the premiere destination for all news and happenings in the area. We wanted to reach our targeted audience, so advertising with The Berkshire Eagle, both online and in print, was a no-brainer.”

Amy Filiault, Advertising Sales Representative, North County for The Berkshire Eagle, said, “I’ve worked with my client, Whitney’s Farms, for eight years. They’re getting their biggest reach, historically, with our Harvest Happenings. It aligns with a pumpkin festival they’re holding at the end of the month. This is one of their largest seasons, and they’re all in on our digital sectional.”

The Berkshire Eagle integrated contest platform includes print, digital, social media, and opt-in newsletters, which means multiple channels push readers into the contest platform.

The Harvest Happenings Scavenger Hunt contest starts on Sept. 15, 2021, and ends on Oct. 6, 2021. But there’s still time to get your ad into the digital publication and to be a part of the other contests we’re sponsoring in the fall and winter. To learn more, call Beth Maturevich at (800) 245-0254.

Contributing editor: Kelly L. Anderson