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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Newspaper Inserts Trending Down

Advertisers Not Using As Many Print Inserts

Newspaper Industry experts cite several reasons for a recent slowdown in the retail insert marketplace, among them declining news paper circulations, rising paper and ship ping costs, as well as advertisers' desire to reach younger, text-savvy consumers. Several printers and at least one media company, however, have introduced data-intensive programs designed to convince retailers of the power of print.

“We see a decline in inserts year-over-year, of between 12% to 20% industry wide,” reports a marketing director at Quebecor World Market ing Solutions Group.

Printers point to a decrease in pages as the cause. “Retailers are increasing insert page counts for key events like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day and Father's Day while decreasing pages for other, less key, events,”. Costly gate-folds are also used less often. Newspapers in general are no longer delivering Return on Investment for Advertisers.

“The newspaper home sub scriber has always been one of the retailer's most valued consumers, and advertisers are beginning to walk away from newspaper and insert advertising efforts,” reports a top sales officer at Valassis Communications Livonia Michigan.

There are a few positive signs remaining for Hypermarket Meijer is taking in 10 times the number of paper coupons that it did last year, accord ing to Valassis. “Cash register returns drive circular and preprint behavior.

Targeted marketing, a direct marketing strategy, using demographics, minority demographics are all being applied to retail inserts more often to drive relevance.

Tribune Company, which publishes 10 daily newspapers, has started rolling out a program called PrePrint Optimization. It pairs client customer data with subscriber data to target where and how advertisers can effectively reach consumers.

“We know we're in the age of account ability and that this was a key component missing from newspaper advertising,” says an advertising director for major accounts at The Chicago Tribune, of the Tribune Newspaper's data-oriented market segmentation advertis ing programs. Linking Tribune newspaper household demographic data bases with their own customer databases, advertisers can insure they are get ting the best return on investment from print insert efforts.

PrePrint Optimiza tion is too new for results. Tribune Company said retail advertising revenues were down 26% for the second quarter; preprint revenues dipped 19%.

Sometimes analytics show the best medium for an advertiser to be one of Tribune's non-subscriber publica tions or its shared mail program. By ensur ing that advertisements are more targeted, Tribune hopes to increase the relevance of ads for consumers and advertisers.

“Advertisers test different methods to reach consumers to see what works best,”says a sales manager for Direct Delivery+ at Tribune Media Net, Tribune Company's national sales arm. While no “silver bullet” may exist, “by no means are we sitting back on our laurels, we have to get aggressive to counter internet marketing and the power of Google."

Retail insert printers Quebecor World, Vertis and Valassis have each introduced strategies for print advertising by crunch ing available data. The goal is to assist retailers to effectively reach their audi ence through such vehicles as shared mail, targeted direct mail, in-store on-demand coupons and other print solutions.

Advertising Opportunities are there for retailers to reach consumers via print, offered a SVP of sales at Vertis. “Free-standing inserts are one way to convey a print message. It needs to be part of the total media mix.

By its cross-selling initiatives, Valassis shifted $7.3 million in newspaper preprint business to shared mail in the first half of 2008, giving advertisers a way to reach non newspaper-reading households (not reported is the breach of privacy used to identify and list non-newspaper households.

This month, Quebecor World will launch Store.driver, a new direct-mail piece — designed to drive people into retail stores — that can be printed in-line with a map, paper gift card and fragrance strip.

All of these untested, new print advertising programs appear as desperate efforts by the print and newspaper community to combat the shirt of advertising dollars migrating to online marketing programs.