local media insider

Obits turned into FB ads support price increases

Families universally support the addition



Two newspapers are reporting great success with targeted obituaries - that is, turning obits automatically into Facebook ads using iPublish’s iPortal platform. According to Facebook, posting to a personal Facebook page only reaches between 10% to 40% of the “friends list” over time. For brands (including funeral homes) with Facebook pages, the numbers are even lower.

Targeted ads created by iPublish Media Solutions' obituaries portal, on the other hand, reach not only all friends of the deceased but also their friends that the family might not know: high school and college students, colleagues they worked with at a former employer or people they met in associations like the Junior League or Rotary Club.

Here are the results so far:

Case study 1: Utah Media Group 

Utah Media Group launched targeted obituaries in July, 2020 and shared their implementation and results at the 2020 Local Media Association Digital Revenue Summit.


Sally Steed, SVP of Advertising for Utah Media Group, said simplicity is a huge factor in the program’s success in her market.

Targeted obituaries on Facebook, simply put, automates turning obituaries into Facebook ads and sending them to the specific targets most likely to be interested in news of the deceased.

The greatly simplified interface allows users to select from the few most appropriate targeting choices: Age, geography, civic organizations, education and employment. Campaigns take seconds to deploy. 

“For my people placing the ads, it is absolutely flawless using AdPortal. We encounter people at the worst time in their life… ease of use pays for itself,” she said. 


  • Questions posed during the setup of the Facebook targeting resulted in longer print obituaries. 

  • The ads also seemed to be attracting record levels of interactivity. Click through rates from the targeted obituaries soon reached 9% with 10% engagement – that is, shares, comments, and likes.

  • The program is paid for with an assumed rate increase - averaging $25 to $49 depending on the market -  which families did not mind paying.

Case Study 2: Chicago Sun-Times

Mary Hoffman, Classified Director for The Chicago Sun-Times told the audience that “the response from the funeral homes and families has   been stellar. 

Because they are targeting former employees and schools, [families] hear wonderful stories back. “We are seeing some funeral homes that we never had running in the Sun-Times before.” Hoffman noted.

Other results include a CTR or 6% and a series of emailed-in testimonials from grateful families and funeral homes. 

About 70% of all obituaries are placed by funeral homes, and they are also appreciative of being able to provide an extra needed service to families during difficult times when funerals are often impossible to hold in-person.

“If you are a newspaper and are not using iPublish, my question is: Why?” Hoffman said, at the conclusion of the virtual session.


Local Media, iPublish, Obituaries