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New Year’s resolution: Lose those extra pounds (in your subscriber acquisition budget)

21 December 2014 · By Jim Fleigner

As we approach the end of another year, we reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and create resolutions for the upcoming year.

For some of us, our personal resolution might be to drop those extra 10 pounds, which were gained very slowly and subtly over a long period of time.

A professional resolution might be to do something about subscriber acquisition because “the current approaches no longer work,” as one prospective client recently told us.

The biggest reason for this is because many subscriber acquisition budgets are simply overweight; that is, too much money is being spent for not enough payback. And just as was the case for those extra 10 pounds, the extra “weight” in the subscriber acquisition budget was gained very slowly and subtly over years.

So why not adopt a similar New Year’s resolution, using a similar approach to weight loss?

Continuing with this analogy, it is instructive to consider Impact Consultancy’s contributions to this Satisfying Audiences blog in 2014, as they offered a recurring theme of “losing weight” in subscriber acquisition, which is especially timely as we look ahead toward new business resolutions in 2015.

Just like with personal weight loss, the first obstacle to overcome is acknowledging that a problem exists in the first place, rather than making excuses as to why weight loss is not possible or too hard.

Here were some of the most common refrains we heard from circulation executives in 2014 as to why they could or would not proceed with a subscriber acquisition “weight loss” programme, along with our proposed solutions ...


Evolving digital connectivity changes holiday advertising

02 December 2014 · By Kathleen Coleman

The weeks approaching Christmas mid-1970s in my childhood home worked like this: My two older sisters passed the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog back and forth between them in their off-limits teen bedroom, hoarding it until my brother could steal it away.

Then the two of us passed it back and forth, making Christmas wish lists on three-hole notebook paper to hand off to our parents well in advance of December 25.

Awe-inspiring in their greed and detail, the lists spelled out on what page of the slick holiday book the desired object could be found, along with the desired size (if applicable) and quantity (if one was feeling especially piggish).

Certainly our parents could have used these lists to peer deeply into our childish psyches for clues to the state of our family (for example, a request for matching tartan pajamas, gowns, and slippers for the entire family, including a wrap for the dog) or about the needful urge to transform the yard into a neighbourhood park (for example, a request for a 16-foot octagon trampoline).

In its wondrous pages could be found things ...


10 seasonal sales ideas for the circulation director who has everything

23 November 2014 · By Lynne Brennen

As we head into the last stretch of 2014, don’t forget to take advantage of the big seasonal opportunities for subscription sales.

Here are 10 ideas just to get you started.

Cyber Monday and digital December

The Monday after the United States’ Thanksgiving is the busiest online shopping day of the year, and that digital shopping enthusiasm continues throughout December. Tips for riding that wave:

  • Deploy a large e-mail campaign late in the morning on Cyber Monday so your offer is near the top of the inbox when the eager shoppers wake up.

  • “Today only!” Boost sales response with a seasonal, time-bound, deeply discounted offer to your best prospects and former subscribers in return for ...

Behind the scenes of Toronto Star’s C$10 million niche print business

17 November 2014 · By Sandy MacLeod

In early September, Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst and author of Newsonomics, published an article in the Nieman Journalism Lab about the Toronto Star’s C$10 million niche print business.

Since the article appeared, I have had several people contact me seeking details, which I have gladly given to them.

Here is what I’ve told them.

Importantly, it is true that there are incremental profits in our print businesses. The key point, though, is that we ...


News media companies need to utilise Facebook, YouTube to their fullest extent

02 November 2014 · By Dan Johnson

While pretty much all news media companies are on Facebook and YouTube, are they truly engaging their social media audiences?

Newspapers are generally the best at multi-media offerings in their market. They are content generators and aggregators, marketers and advertising platforms, government watchdogs and entertainment guides.

Newspapers have among the best Web sites, and no other medium even comes close when it comes to mobile offerings.

One area, however, where newspapers need to develop a stronger presence is on social media.

Social media and search sites such as Facebook and YouTube provide wonderful audience development opportunities for newspapers. There are a wide range of different demographics, geographics, age groups, etc., all able to be targeted.

But to reach these audiences, newspapers must do more than just post stories and video from their Web sites.

To effectively utilise social media as an audience development tool ...


How relevant is your newspaper?

21 October 2014 · By Anne Crassweller

Technology allows newspapers to target digital content based on readers’ previous behaviour. Satisfying audiences is about making sure content is relevant, interesting, and engaging to readers.

The majority of Canadians consider newspapers to be the most credible and comprehensive source for news and information. They value newspapers because they are informative, convenient to navigate, and are a trusted source that presents varied perspectives and provides up-to-date information.

The chart below highlights the full range of positive values of readers in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, Canada’s largest cities.

Individuals who harbour positive attitudes toward newspapers have higher readership than adults generally.

The most “engaged” readers are the readers who look to their newspapers for a perspective on the news. Readers count on ...


New York Times measures impact of digital audience development

06 October 2014 · By Shane Murray

The New York Times is using various forms of experimentation to optimise product features and marketing, and to improve content recommendations.

Experimentation in the form of A/Bmulti-variate, and bandit testing can provide the most actionable data to support business decisions, especially on digital platforms where we have the ability to vary the user experience systematically; that is, assign visitors to a randomly selected experience, and track subsequent behaviours after exposure to the experiment.

But what should we do in situations where the experience cannot be ...


Building blocks of a local-rich strategy

30 September 2014 · By Lynne Brennen

Advertisers seek our local audiences. Readers want local-rich content.

Our markets are really smaller communities of local interests. “Local” sounds simple and provincial, but it requires sophisticated segmentation and nuance.

Media companies need to understand and own their local markets with a local-rich strategy.

Does your newspaper own its local market?

Local markets are a collection of perspectives starting with the content itself ranging from hyper-local subjects to global topics viewed through a local lens. Of course, readers are a critical component of understanding what local means in your market, and they represent a Marimeko quilt of local interest groups and media engagement preferences.

Advertisers big and small are seeking these local audiences. All three – content, readers, and advertisers – need to be understood and viewed collectively to capitalise on ...


Circulation loss vs. cash flow gain: Let’s make a deal

23 September 2014 · By Jim Fleigner

Would you be willing to forego 8.8% of your circulation if it guaranteed your newspaper an annual improvement of nearly US$650,000 in annual cash flow?

While some newspapers might jump at this opportunity, others might be more cautious and turn down this chance.

What if the offer improved to a better savings of US$900,000 annually, but with a much more favourable circulation loss of only 3.5%? Many newspapers that hedged on the first offer might jump at the second offer, and those that accepted the first offer might kick themselves for having squandered the chance for even greater savings.

But what if the stakes were raised even higher, such as 12.7% circulation loss but for annual savings in excess of US$1.6 million? Perhaps that feels too risky. But perhaps your media company needs more savings upside than the first two options offer, which might make the circulation risk worthwhile.

When it comes to optimising a newspaper’s subscriber acquisition activities, the goal is to find the one scenario that optimises the trade-off between “top line” (i.e. circulation loss) and “bottom line” (cash flow gain). In other words, the newspaper should strive to maximise cash flow while minimising circulation loss.

Optimal targeting of starts limits the circulation impact yet improves “bottom line” metrics – not only from reduced acquisition expense, but also from reduced net margin losses and higher productivity through avoidance of the worst performing starts.

Many newspaper executives feel they have no choice but to ...


Do advertisers understand print’s faithful audience?

14 September 2014 · By Anne Crassweller

The word is out: Print is dead. Really?

Seven out of 10 Canadians read a printed newspaper each week. That does not sound very dead. In addition, 70% of newspaper readers only read printed editions. Newspapers clearly offer audiences valuable content.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, and digital development has aided the growth of many industries, newspapers included. The scoop has moved online.

Newspapers have a new voice. But it is not their only voice; 75% of Canadians read a newspaper each week in print or online.

But back to print … I am saddened and frustrated when I hear the words “print is dead.” I keep waiting for a funeral that never happens.

Yes, readership and readers are changing. Initially we thought ...


About this blog

The Satisfying Audiences Blog aims to reflect print and digital content not just across platforms but extending into consumer events, non-news-related subscriptions and other audience vehicles for newsmedia companies. This blog written by INMA members is dedicated to identifying the emerging linkages between content, audiences, and platforms. The blog is an initiative by the INMA North America Division Board of Directors.

Meet the bloggers

Lynne Brennen
New Leaf Media Consulting
Montclair, New Jersey, USA
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Nadine Chevolleau
Consumer Marketing
The Toronto Star
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Elisabeth Clark
Vice President
Audience & Engagement
South Bend Tribune
Indiana, USA
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Kathleen Coleman
Sales & Marketing
S-R Media
Spokane, Washington, USA
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Anne Crassweller
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Jim Fleigner
Managing Partner
Impact Consultancy
Santa Monica, California, United States
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Claire Hawley
Audience Acquisition
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, California, USA
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Dan Johnson
Vice President,
Business Development
Gilbert, Arizona, USA
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Sandy MacLeod
Chief Operating Officer, Print
The Toronto Star/Metro English
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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John Newby
The Times
Ottawa, Illinois, USA
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Siobhan Vinish
Senior Vice President
Marketing & Audience Development
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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New York City, New York, USA

Shane Murray
Executive Director, Analytics in the Consumer Insight Group
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December 2014 ( 2 )
November 2014 ( 3 )
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