As a follow-up to my last blog post, “Don’t assume “greatest generation” will support print at all costs,” I had planned to write about Gen X and how that generation more than any other has contributed to the creative disruption of the newspaper industry (and perhaps all media).
I’ll save that topic for later, though, as this time of year my thoughts are on a different audience: an audience that still remains fiercely loyal to the printed newspaper in the absence of any alternative.
I’ll bet your local newspaper, like mine, was chock-full of retail inserts this past Thanksgiving (if you live in the United States) and that your Sunday newspaper will be huge for the next couple of weeks.
My local newspaper had more than 50 inserts in the Thanksgiving edition this year. While that’s down from the year before, it still represents some of the biggest preprint numbers that paper has ever seen in a single edition.
In recent years, single-copy sales have remained steady on Thanksgiving Day, despite significant declines on just about every other day of the year. Consumers who value coupons and use store circulars to comparison-shop continue to be one of the most loyal print readership audiences left.
In a 2012 Ideas Magazine article, “2017: What media shifts in the next five years mean for newspapers,” Shawn Riegsecker, founder and CEO of Centro Marketing, predicted that by 2017: “National dailies still breathe, but weekly newspapers thrive. For printed metro and national dailies, an implosion of advertising preprints in 2014 or so will devastate their revenues.”
Riegsecker said newspapers would lose 30% of the preprint revenue the first year, and the decline would continue in subsequent years. If that prediction were to come true, Thanksgiving 2013 could be the last of the big pre-print newspapers.
So far, though, I haven’t really seen anything that will cause the collapse of printed inserts in the next 12 months. But I do believe advertisers are looking for alternatives that better enable them to target customers. I also believe they will abandon printed circulars if there ever is a viable alternative.
Newspapers absolutely must be at the forefront of this innovation or plan to lose this revenue for good.
As someone who has managed both advertising and circulation for newspapers, I know firsthand the importance of pre-prints as a connection between advertiser and consumer.
The fact that advertisers would welcome a different means of reaching customers hit home a couple of years ago when I was sitting in the offices of a local grocer, trying to keep him from making a drastic cut to his distribution.
The reasons for the cuts were primarily financial (he was forced to cut back on his overall marketing budget), and we ended up in a discussion about the effectiveness of pre-print advertising.
The grocery executive felt he had no choice but to continue to do free-standing inserts, but made it clear he would gladly consider a less costly alternative to pre-prints. He rightly pointed out he was delivering inserts to entire zip codes in which only a handful of people would shop at his store....[more]
05 December 2013 · by Kathleen Coleman
Just be yourself.
Your mom probably said this to you before your first middle school dance. Your significant other probably said this to you before your interview with a potential new boss and her posse of 13 associates packing a glass-walled executive board room.
Your marketing director or agency likely said this to you after a thorough assessment of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
In this transitional era of news media marketing, the adage “just be yourself” might sound counter-intuitive. But any good marketer can tell you that your situation is unique, your geography’s market sectors distinctive, and thus your business model should be shaped accordingly.
Consider JCPenney, which underwent revolutionary change to its brand in early 2012.
Then-CEO Ron Johnson brought what seemed to be promising ideas to a struggling retail giant.
Some of his initiatives included setting prices that were “Fair and Square” all month long, not just during mark-down periods, cleaning up properties with tired and dated floorspace, and going whole hog on the boutique “store-within-a-store” concept.
Cleaner, brighter stores = great. Store-within-a-store = depends. Sephora continues to be a JCPenney darling; Levi’s, Liz Claiborne, and Joe Fresh are also doing well. Disney Shops opened in 565 JCPenney stores this October, promising additional retail foot traffic from lovers of The Mouse and sparkly princess costumes and tiaras.
But the effort to change well-documented consumer shopping habits? Customers already knew how to shop sales and with coupons, so the “Fair and Square” message fell on deaf or at least confused ears. And while its mailed marketing materials — high-design, full-colour glossy catalogs, seasonally themed — were stunning, they failed to move the needle on sales....[more]
24 November 2013 · by Siobhan Vinish
“If you build it, he will come.”
So went the famous quote from one of the best baseball movies ever made, “Field of Dreams.” In the film, an Iowa corn farmer (Ray Kinsella) destroys his crops to build a baseball field because he hears a voice telling him to do so. He builds the field, and indeed the infamous Chicago Black Sox appear on the field.
Where are we going with this?
The same thing is happening for newspapers all around the world, with respect to mobile traffic and content consumption. Newspapers are building mobile-optimised Web sites and mobile apps to keep up with the demand of their readers and the growing trends of mobile news consumption.
According to NADbank research, 30% of adults in Canada read newspapers online weekly. The statistics get more interesting when you look at the percentage of those adults who read the news only on mobile devices. In 2010, it was only 2% of adults. But by 2013, that number had jumped to 28%.
Breaking those numbers down further:
- 2013 shows millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) consuming 34% of their news on mobile devices only, up from 3% in 2010.
- 81% of millennials are mobile phone users, according to Ipsos OTX and Ipsos Global @dvisor in May 2013.
- And, according to ComScore, millennials comprise 31% of all mobile users in Canada.
12 November 2013 · by Anne Crassweller
Newspaper reading habits have changed in the past few years. No one would argue that point.
But it is often human nature to exaggerate the pace and degree of change. That, of course, is good if you need the push to re-invent yourself but less helpful if you are the one who has to manage the transition.
- Newspapers continue to be an important part of people’s lives. They are considered the most credible and comprehensive media source available. Interestingly, this rank order holds true for 18- to 34-year-olds; but for older adults, TV is tied with newspapers for both credibility and comprehensiveness.
- Flowing out of this is that (in Canada) nearly eight in 10 adults read a daily newspaper every week, 50% each day. I sound like a broken record; I have published these numbers many times in the past. Yes, readership is changing. In today’s fragmented media landscape, newspapers have done well to keep pace with the changes in media behaviour.
Sadly, I had a call from a journalist last week after the release of our most recent study, and he challenged the numbers as not being believable.
We hear about the death of traditional print media and the belief that everyone has moved to the Internet for all their information, entertainment, product information, and to buy goods and services.
But, in reality, the conversion is not that extreme. People adapt and capitalise on new and exciting ways of doing things, but it is always in order to make life easier for them. If it is not easy to make a change and the benefit real, habits take over.
Where am I going with this?
NADbank released its new, more granular digital readership data in March of this year and updated nine markets last month. We introduced new questions about digital readership: do you read the PDF/replica edition, at the Web site and/or an app.
Digital readership is growing, and we need to have a good understanding not just about the growth of readership online, but where and how it is changing and impacting overall readership.
- Evolution not revolution. Weekly readership online has grown from 10% in 2001 to 31%; daily readership is now just over 17%.
- Each week, nine million Canadians “only read” a printed newspaper. Of the 20 million adults covered in the survey, 15 million (77%) read a newspaper each week; nearly 60% are print-only readers. This compares to 70% five years ago.
16 October 2013 · by Dan Johnson
Think you know your core print audience? Think again!
I’ve been visiting my father this week. Dad is 87 years old, a member of the “greatest generation,” and a retired newspaper reporter. While I’ve been staying at his house, I’ve been able to observe how Dad consumes media.
My father, like many in his generation, still has a printed newspaper delivered to his door every day. He also watches TV news, both local and national. But Dad also has a desktop computer and uses it to read news stories from sources. (He generally does not view the Web site of his local newspaper, except to share stories he has read with other people via e-mail.)
When he goes online to read news, it is generally because he wants to get more information about a specific topic he has heard or read about elsewhere. He generally gets to this topic through a search engine, primarily Google. In other words, Dad doesn’t just rely on the printed newspaper or other “traditional” media for news....[more]
10 October 2013 · by Kathleen Coleman
It’s game day, baby!
The leaves are starting to turn as tailgate party supplies are flying off grocery store shelves in the United States. Letter jackets are proliferating in high school hallways, and cheerleader uniforms are as cute and crisp as ever.
Cross-town rivalries are heating up. But there’s no rivalry between S-R Media/The Spokesman-Review and KHQ-TV – at least on the topic of prep sports.
With colourful and eye-catching marketing campaigns and collateral material, plus top-notch television and radio promotion, www.NWPrepsNow.com is already a favourite among local readers and television viewers.
And advertisers are lining up to get their messages out as part of this family-friendly joint offering between Spokane’s daily newspaper and its NBC affiliate TV station, which share the same ownership and operate within a couple of city blocks of each other.
The Spokesman-Review has long dominated preps (high school) coverage with its crew of award-winning photographers and sports journalists. Not only that, but the sports department has built years-long relationships with local coaches, who call in to newsroom staffers with statistics after every big game.
From down the street, KHQ leveraged its great on-air sports talent to shoot game highlights and just recently secured the rights to all local high school games. Additionally, KHQ launched an all-sports-and-weather station called SWX, which has gained a tremendous local following....[more]
30 September 2013 · by Siobhan Vinish
I recently had the pleasure of reading Mitch Joel’s book, “Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It,” a worthwhile read for all in these tumultuous times.
In the book’s preface, Joel speaks of the “time of great upheaval in business,” arguing that “this is the first time – in the history of business – when consumers are fundamentally ahead of the brands that serve them. Consumers are more connected, more informed, creating and sharing more. They’re smart and getting smarter.”
Joel describes this as being in purgatory: “We’re not in hell … but this certainly isn’t heaven either.”
For those of us implementing new technologies, building new processes, and working hard to gather and interpret as much data as we can about the audiences that come to us each day, those are humbling words that we all need to take to heart.
The book itself is broken into two main sections.
The first, titled “Reboot: Business,” talks about building direct relationships that go beyond “how many people are in their database … to one focusing on precisely who those individuals are and how the brand can make the connection with them even stronger.”
Joel defines five movements that have changed everything that we know about business:
- Direct relationships.
- Consumers want utility.
- Passive and active media.
- The data is telling us much, much more.
- The one-screen world.
Are we focusing our attention on building these direct relationships that our audiences expect?
Are we providing them with products that add value to their lives, engage them, and give them the confidence to share more and more data with us in the world of growing privacy concerns?
Are we thinking about audience over platform?...[more]
17 September 2013 · by Lynne Brennen
So you signed up for Circulation Management this year and it’s a tough class. The teacher mumbles, she gives out complex assignments the night before they’re due, and it’s hard to see the board from the back of the class.
Lucky for you, I got the final exam from a senior who took the class last year and the answer is: circulation profitability up, print volume flat and digital volume up
But you can’t just write that down. You have to show your work. Here’s a black market copy of the an A+ essay:
To achieve circulation profitability growth, print volume stability, and digital volume growth, the tactics are surprisingly simple, but extremely difficult to implement.
The five elusive strategies and tactics are:
- Optimise marketing channels. Get rid of those low-retaining channels. Let’s admit it, we’re talking 15% to 20% retention. Replace the subscriber churning channels like grocery store kiosks and telemarketing with e-mail. You’ll need a good e-commerce backend to accept the orders, but you’ve found a new, low-cost channel. As the e-mail channel grows, don’t add those orders to the base. Be brave and bring down the low-retaining orders to keep starts flat in the near-term. You’ll benefit in the mid- and long-term.
11 September 2013 · by Anne Crassweller
Subscribers to the printed newspaper are unique as newspaper readers go. They not only pay for their newspaper, they go out of their way to spend time with it every day.
These habitual readers are the most likely to trust and value the content they consume every day. And that value is transferred to the advertisers associated with the content.
Subscribers are loyal, valuable, and spend more time than other readers reading printed newspapers.
- Loyalty: The most important reason to pay attention to subscribers is their loyalty. Loyalty is not the same as a frequent purchaser given rewards to engage with your product or service. Loyalty is given to a brand by its customer because the brand has earned it. Loyalty is faithfulness and adherence to something.
For newspaper brands, this has real value and can be monetised.
One in two Canadian newspaper readers tell us they purchase their newspaper through a paid subscription and, depending on the newspaper, at least 75% of them read five out of five weekday issues of that newspaper each week.
Depending on which statistics you wish to quote, it costs about five times more to attract a new reader than maintain your current audience.
- A unique and valuable audience: Subscribers are not a cross-section of the general population; they represent the cream of consumers. And, of course, the subscriber base will vary by newspaper title.
In Toronto, there are six daily newspapers, each with a unique audience and a unique loyal audience. As a group, subscribers are an attractive group of consumers. The value of their savings and investments is an average of C$315,000 compared to C$190,000 for the general population.
In addition, 70% are married or living with a partner compared to 62% of all adults. They have household incomes 10% higher than that of the average Canadian household.
The list could go on. These Canadians have a higher disposable income and are the audience that advertisers are looking for. They show up every day in the same place at the same time: your newspaper.
05 September 2013 · by John Newby
I recently had the opportunity to attend the recent Vail Roundtable and listen to some of the greatest minds in the news media industry discuss various innovative business models.
It is my opinion that we will never see the digital dimes add up to support anything close to what we have as a current journalism model. Drastic and wholesale changes will need to be made on both the journalism and business side to sustain our information stream as it must be maintained.
As with most conferences, the roundtable was digitally dominated. While digital is a huge player — as it should be — I still haven’t seen the silver bullet that will come close to sustaining journalism.
Another opinion, and I have plenty of them: The advertising side of the digital world will never sustain us, as there are far too many players in that arena and there will be plenty more to come.
The one side of digital that gets me excited is the e-commerce side of the equation, and I haven’t seen much in that arena as of yet. (But I am working on it feverishly.)
That said, I did see two powerful presentations, featuring newspapers quite capable of sustaining the journalism model as we know it or as it transforms itself.
In a nutshell, events and equity stakes are powerful ideas transforming the business model in their locations.
Jason discussed how Chattanooga has grown its events division from zero dollars just three or four years ago to more than US$6 million today. Events from bridal fairs, best of the best, best of the preps, senior expos, kids fairs, man fairs, and much more dominate the landscape in Chattanooga.
Who is better positioned to market, promote, and pull off a big event than the local media company?...[more]