Ad Manager's Minute
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Making money with truly ‘special’ sections
By DAVID MCCOLLUM / NNA
If you are not adding new revenue or readership, think twice before publishing your next special section.
Are "special sections" good for newspapers, or do they simply usurp a lot of creative work and precious sales time from the core newspaper product? Publishers have been challenged by this issue for years. To solve this dilemma, our company has chosen to take a more direct approach. We simply do not produce a special section that takes away from our newspaper or fails to deliver new revenue to our bottom line.
Basic financial considerations, such as:
- What is the cost of producing the section?
- Will the content be of interest to the reader?
- Will the section produce true incremental revenue?
Time and time again, I have witnessed some smart publishers who demand of their sales teams, more and more special sections to add revenues only to discover later that a lot of time, effort and financial resources were invested, with no net gain. Unfortunately, these executives are responding just like the lady when she tried to lengthen her quilt by cutting off the top and sewing it onto the bottom.
The sales staff may achieve their sales target for a special section by scheduling enough ads so that the section appears to be successful. However, many, if not most, of¬ revenue might be coming right off the top because they are actually switched dollars--money that was already scheduled to be spent elsewhere in the newspaper. Consequently, the newspaper's overall bottom line will have actually shrunk because of the additional costs to design, write, print, deliver and pay commissions on the new special section. And this does not include the precious time lost in producing the section – time that could have been spent developing new business for the core newspaper product.
When our publishing company was formed six years ago, we were focused only on the development of our weekly newspaper, which, at the time, was a 16-page black and white product. In our first year, we did not produce a single special section. Today, our team not only publishes a five-section, 100-page weekly newspaper, we also produce at least two special sections per month, along with a monthly newsletter for the local chamber of commerce and a bi-weekly real estate guide. Each of these products is individually profitable. Further, we estimate that less than 5 percent of the revenue generated in the special sections is switched from our core news paper product. Read more
The merits of campaign ads in newspapers
By David Hill
If I have learned anything in 20-plus years of campaigning, it’s that you’ll incur the contempt of other consult¬ants if you suggest that a campaign advertise in the newspapers. Even if you’re armed with data supporting the fact that likely voters are newspaper readers, you’ll be hit with complaints about newspaper ad costs and inefficiencies in reaching the targeted electorate.
It’s very sad, really. If there is a reason I developed an interest in politics and became a pollster, it’s because of newspapers. When I was growing up, our household always subscribed to at least two daily newspapers, and we read them. My mother also taught me the joy of buying the local daily or weekly when traveling. There’s no better way to get to know a community quickly than reading the local paper. My first mentor in this business, Lance Tarrance, always bought the local rag the night before a poll presentation and sprinkled things he’d learned into the discussion the next day. It gave our firm’s observations a welcome local flavor.
In the past I have received packages — obviously mailed to all political consultants by a newspaper consor¬tium — containing information designed to induce campaign operatives to think more kindly of newspapers when doling out campaign dollars. The material was always well-documented and attractively presented, but I doubt it did a bit of good. Campaigners — particularly media consultants who prefer broadcast advertising — have closed the door on any consideration of newspapers as a channel of communication they’ll pay for. Read more
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Questions please call: Michael Danieli (518) 469-6479 or e-mail me at email@example.com