By Stein, M. L.
Editor & Publisher , Vol. 128, No. 52
At a time when narrow-target marketing is all the rage, Gannett newspapers are enriching and strengthening themselves as a mass medium, a company executive told an Audit Bureau of Circulations audience in San Francisco.
The reason is simple, said Michelle Foster, Gannett Co.'s vice president for market development in the newspaper division. "As a mass-advertising medium, we make a lot of sense," she said.
On any given day, she explained, the chain's newspapers reach nearly every upscale adult in their markets, "the people advertisers most want to reach." Over a week, Foster continued, the papers are read by more than 70% of all adults.
"This is tremendous reach and frequency in a world where media usage is being splintered into segments so small that it is difficult for advertisers to find enough groups with enough mass to build their base of customers," the speaker said.
Foster added that while newspaper circulation generally is declining, readership is growing, largely through pass-along papers. Much of this reading, she said, is in nontraditional venues such as coffee shops and during commuting.
"People are active, on the move," she said. "They can grab a newspaper as they go."
Another reason for stressing mass distribution is the financial realities facing advertisers today, Foster went. on, adding: "For the rest of the century, most retail businesses will be in an environment where growth can only come from increasing market share. With more retail goods than we have money to buy, the only way to grow is by gaining market share, not expanding the market."
Businesses, Foster contended, are being forced to switch their strategy to controlling inventories, cutting expenses and reengineering their marketing processes with a strict focus on cost containment while prospecting to leverage competitors' customers into their stores.
In such an environment, Foster pointed out, staff time is at least as rare as marketing revenue - and frequently more limited.
"Having the time, talent and focus to run highly targeted programs will be at a premium or lacking entirely in some businesses," she suggested. …