Where the action is

Say 'newspaper,' and many marketers still think of a regular, run-of-press newspaper ad, but that's not where the action is. Sponsorship, cross-promotions, FSIs and other inserts are on the rise, not to mention the newest arrival on the sliding scale between advertorial and editorial: branded content.
'We're very much out there, chasing business and placing intelligent options before clients,' says Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of the Globe and Mail. 'Discussions are no longer about a half-page ad for next week's paper. It's a more sophisticated and deeper conversation about strategy for the next six to nine months.'
Everybody in the industry agrees that convergence, as it affects newspapers, is just in the baby steps stage, but that hasn't stopped industry leaders from getting their feet wet. 'We call it 'special section,'' says Ron Clark, SVP of advertising for CanWest media sales, newspaper division. 'The industry hasn't settled on a term for it yet. It's pretty new stuff.'
Given such bewildering newspaper options beyond the traditional ad, Strategy invited some newspaper leaders to answer questions on how to make the right choice for your marketing goals, and how to make the most of that option once you've chosen it.

Say ‘newspaper,’ and many marketers still think of a regular, run-of-press newspaper ad, but that’s not where the action is. Sponsorship, cross-promotions, FSIs and other inserts are on the rise, not to mention the newest arrival on the sliding scale between advertorial and editorial: branded content.

‘We’re very much out there, chasing business and placing intelligent options before clients,’ says Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of the Globe and Mail. ‘Discussions are no longer about a half-page ad for next week’s paper. It’s a more sophisticated and deeper conversation about strategy for the next six to nine months.’

Everybody in the industry agrees that convergence, as it affects newspapers, is just in the baby steps stage, but that hasn’t stopped industry leaders from getting their feet wet. ‘We call it ‘special section,” says Ron Clark, SVP of advertising for CanWest media sales, newspaper division. ‘The industry hasn’t settled on a term for it yet. It’s pretty new stuff.’

Given such bewildering newspaper options beyond the traditional ad, Strategy invited some newspaper leaders to answer questions on how to make the right choice for your marketing goals, and how to make the most of that option once you’ve chosen it.

Jef Combdon,

media group head

The Media Edge, Toronto

What are the custom

publishing options and how do you use them?

As an example of custom publishing, the ‘Molson Canadian Weekend Survival Guide’ was an opportunity to build the brand by injecting editorial content about Canadian pride. It outlined everything to do on a long weekend, driving attendance to our events, and included a list of beer stores near Ontario campgrounds.

We had a lot to communicate and the guide was a great space to do it. It was a format that the reader could actually use. The absolute cost is fairly high, but what you’re getting in terms of space – page to page – is much cheaper than ROP.

Some advertorial pieces are ineffective because a lot of advertisers don’t think about the consumers first. You’ve got to ask yourself if there is any interest or value in the piece for the consumer.

If it’s a gardening company, give me some tips while you’re telling me about yourself. Otherwise, you’re looking at a company’s annual report and it’s boring. There are only cons if it’s not done right. If it’s too heavy-handed, it’s just taking up room in my blue box.

Custom publishing and branded content are on the same spectrum, with custom publishing on the left and newspaper-generated supplements (which is editorial but wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for ad dollars) on the far right. Branded content is in between, bordering advertorial and editorial.

I wouldn’t want the newspaper to go too far [in crossing the line between advertising and editorial]. They could lose their credibility with the reader. Once they’ve lost the reader, they’ve lost the value to me. The Weather Network goes too far, for instance, with branded segments like the ‘Gatorade Water Replacement Index.’

From a sales department perspective, not since the old Financial Post have newspapers collectively had the get-up-and-go to help me and my clients shepherd a piece all the way through. The old Posties were fantastic for this, probably because they were the underdog paper and had to drum up business and strategic solutions.

Les Affaires, a Quebec regional weekly, is also one which cares about the client’s business as much as its own.

Peter Leupen, VP ad sales

National Post, Toronto

What opportunities are

marketers most interested in, given the tough market?

The thing that gets a client’s or an agency’s attention is a good idea, as opposed to just a ridiculously low rate. I’ve tried to spend some time with my folks here to encourage them to think of new and unique ideas for presentation to clients as opposed to just going out and offering them X% off a page. Certainly in this marketplace, regardless of the price you offer, there is always somebody who’s prepared to drop their pants a little bit lower, and that is not the kind of thing that is good for business.

We also offer unusual executions from gatefolds to front-page wraps [featuring a half-page overlap of the front page]. Sprint has done that with us a couple of times. It is really quite in your face.

Most of our ads are in the ROP area, but we certainly carry inserts, Post-it notes, belly bands, advertising on polybags and product samples inserted into the polybags.

Len Kubas, president

Kubas Consulting and

The Newspaper Research Centre, Toronto

How effective are FSIs as an advertising medium?

FSIs – I call them preprints or flyers – outperform ROP, as well as TV and radio by as much as four times. That’s according to the PIA (Printing Industries of America).

After 25 years of doing preprints for the retail and publishing sector, I see inserts becoming a much more widely used medium.

At a cost of roughly 12 to 14 cents a piece, including pre-press, paper, printing and distribution to consumer, it is very cost-effective. And because they’re targeted, with an excellent response rate, it is one of the few media that continues to grow faster than the others, except the Internet, at 4% per annum. That’s in good times and bad.

A wider variety of advertisers are using them too, from a Mercedes Benz single sheet insert to a Zellers flyer. It has the advantages of direct marketing, except it’s not addressed.

Michelle Oosterman,

marketing manager

LCBO, Toronto

What kinds of campaigns are FSIs appropriate for?

FSIs are certainly a key component of our advertising campaigns.

In the beverage alcohol category, consumers have become a lot more sophisticated and want to learn more. Providing customers with tangible product recommendations is very important to them.

For example, the Aussie Stars promotion last month was not single-brand focused. In order to cover the key varietals and some examples of Australian wine, we need the space. It is difficult to cover the depth of information and the breadth of product in a run-of-press ad.

The March FSI, titled ‘Just Add Spirits,’ attempted to demystify spirits in terms of inhibitions of price or not knowing what to do with them. The FSI was very important in this case because it provided cocktail recipes and visuals that looked delicious. After reading the information, consumers go, ‘Aha! This is not that complicated.’

The flexibility of design, quality control and four-colour process allow us to produce a piece that is high quality in keeping with our brand, as well as in-store takeaway brochures and POP displays. Those visual cues are important and newspaper colour reproduction has been an issue for us.

We have also encountered challenges booking ahead of time to secure space, especially since we are a retailer who wants to reach the customer when shopping is top of mind, towards the latter part of the week.

Tanya DuBois Dreesen,

advertising promotions

manager

Toronto Star, Toronto

What newspaper offerings are hot right now?

Power positions are huge right now. It is a term that we created for exclusive advertising adjacencies. These are high-profile positions next to such regular features as the weather map, Ann Landers, the winning lottery numbers or the crossword page.

We use the same formula in terms of line rates, but there is a minimal guaranteed positioning charge. It is quite cost-effective.

Power positions open up the opportunity for an advertiser to design creative that reflects the environment they’re in. ‘Didn’t win today? Be a winner with us. Call…’

By far the biggest growth area overall is promotions, sponsorships and co-partnerships. In fact, in North America, sponsorship funding was at 10 billion dollars last year, outstripping advertising in terms of percentage growth.

There’s a real paradigm shift going on right now, focusing on psychographics instead of demographics, trying to capture a certain lifestyle. Sponsorships of events, launches or services help us tap into people’s lifestyles and enhance the experience for the reader.

Sports is the largest area of sponsorships. Their competitiveness is applicable to all industries and we all share in that. Entertainment is being folded into sports more than we have ever seen before, so many sports events can really be defined as an entertainment experience.

It can work our way as well. Perhaps we have something in the newspaper that somebody wants to sponsor like an Academy Awards promotion.

The most recent deal that we cut is with the Toronto Blue Jays. It is a new partnership that ends the partnership the Toronto Sun had for past 25 years. The promotion started in March, inviting Star readers to clip a coupon to buy a season’s pass for $81, which is less than a dollar a game.

Peter deVos, director,

enterprise brand marketing

Telus, Edmonton

Why did Telus turn to newspaper for its latest campaign?

We had a complex message to get across about a number of our capabilities and how they relate. It’s not enough to say, ‘Wow, we’re into data and Internet protocol solutions for your business!’ Anybody can say it. We had information on five major solution groups that we wanted to get across in addition to our over-arching message. So there’s a lot of information and that makes newspapers a natural fit for us.

The launch ad was unique, using a two-page spread with the right-hand page as a gatefold, which when folded out, was three pages. The Telus business-to-business campaign features a colourful marine theme, so the visual for the launch ad was a five-pointed purple starfish to represent the five key solutions.

Newspaper led consumers to our online information (telus.combusiness), and the response was better than expected. In the Internet world, if you got a 0.44% click-through rate, you thought you were doing well. The click-through standard has recently gone up to 0.8% and we exceeded that.

The use of colour that we do is critical to how we present ourselves. The Canadian papers do such a marvelous job compared to major U.S. market newspapers. They do a more professional job in their press work and colour registration.

How many papers in the States can give you three pages of colour in a row? That’s a challenge for a lot of companies and a lot of Canadian companies can deliver on that.