Easier access could boost weeklies’ sales

Newspaper Total Basis Line Cost CPM Circ. Rate 600 lines based on circ. (¢) ($) ($)A 4,645 Paid VCP .68 408 87.93B 4,194 Paid ABC .65 390 93.08C 4,465 Paid SWN .50 300 67.26D 4,585 Paid VCP .72 432 94.22E 4,657...

Newspaper Total Basis Line Cost CPM Circ. Rate 600 lines based on circ. (¢) ($) ($)

A 4,645 Paid VCP .68 408 87.93

B 4,194 Paid ABC .65 390 93.08

C 4,465 Paid SWN .50 300 67.26

D 4,585 Paid VCP .72 432 94.22

E 4,657 Cont SWN .59 354 76.02

F 5,470 Paid SWN .55 330 60.33

In these days of media bargain hunting, community newspapers could, and probably would, play a role in national newspaper campaigns more often if they were just plain easier to buy.

As a rule of thumb, booking ads in community newspapers is a lot more work and is more frustrating than booking ads in dailies.

Perplexing problem

From the first peek in either Canadian Advertising Rates & Data (card) or an association directory such as the one published by the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (ccna), the media planner is faced with the perplexing problem of determining the true meaning of the seven (that’s how many I counted, anyway) audit sources identified.

Audit Bureau of Circulations (abc) and Canadian Circulations Audit Board (ccab) are the two we are already familiar with and trust.

Then there are vcc, vcp and vc – ccna’s auditing system for members, meaning Verified Circulation Controlled, Verified Circulation Paid and Verified Circulation. Is this last one for those unsure whether they are controlled or paid? I’m still not sure.

swn stands for Sworn, or notarized by a lawyer. So please explain notarized.

And p.s. means Publisher’s Sworn, or not even notarized by a lawyer.

After you have figured out whether a community newspaper is truly audited or not, you quite often notice that the audits quoted in card are not that recent.

Why? Have they stopped auditing or are they not bothering to keep card up to date?

A quick telephone call should clear this up, one would assume.

Well, sometimes. But sometimes the quick phone call becomes a quick long distance phone call to a receptionist at the newspaper who doesn’t know to whom she should connect you. You get bounced around extensions for a while, until you settle on the display ads salesperson who tells you they will have to get back to you.

Telephone tag

They call back the next day and miss you. You call back – another long distance phone call. Finally, you decide to discuss rates and are quoted a net rate (rather than gross). This you find out after the invoice is flagged as discrepant from the finance/checking department.

Sound frustrating yet?

It can be, but I think it could be a lot less painful for a media planner if the staff and management of the community newspapers would bring their sales and service standards closer to those of their neighbors, the daily newspapers, which are structured for retail and national sales.

Community newspapers can offer an alternative to, or can nicely complement, a daily newspaper campaign.

Options

There is a lot of research telling us that people read daily newspapers. As a media planner, I like to have options – the more the merrier. But what about rate determination?

It’s hard to determine the value of an unaudited, controlled circulation newspaper and even harder to compare these newspapers to a daily newspaper measured by NADbank, a readership study commissioned by the Newspaper Marketing Bureau.

And while we’re talking rates, why is there such a difference in line rates and color costs between numerous similar community newspapers?

A quick flip to page 43 of the February issue of card (chosen at random) provides details of numerous community newspapers in Ontario with similar circulations and similar formats, but very different costs.

The chart above is a quick black and white costing exercise:

The cost-per-thousand (cpm) ranges from $60.33 to $94.22 for products all very similar. Why? What is the benchmark used in the industry for cost setting?

In tv and radio, we use cpms and cprs to negotiate our rates. Magazines are compared based on a cpm basis as well. Why not newspapers?

Why should the newspaper in market ‘A’ be priced differently from the paper in market ‘B’ when they are very similar on all measurements?

Bargains

I’m sure that there are bargains to be had and good media vehicles currently being underused in the community newspaper world.

Community newspapers can move more fully into the mainstream if they structure themselves to sell to national advertisers and their agencies.

We would like to consider them along with the dailies, but we need them to make it easier for us to do so.

Bey Bohannon is group media director at Toronto-based Optimedia.