Magazine article Editor & Publisher

25/43 Project a Reader Success: Knight-Ridder's Remake of the Boca Raton News Is Well Received by Targeted Baby Boomers; Advertiser Jury Still Out

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

25/43 Project a Reader Success: Knight-Ridder's Remake of the Boca Raton News Is Well Received by Targeted Baby Boomers; Advertiser Jury Still Out

Article excerpt

25/43 project a reader success

Nearly a year after Knight-Ridder launched its "25/43" project at The News of Boca Raton, Fla., the first results are in: The baby boomers like it.

Surveys and focus groups show that the target group of the Boca Raton makeover overwhelmingly approves of many of the paper's dramatic changes, Knight-Ridder vice president/news C.W. "Bill" Baker told the 106th annual convention of the Inland Press Association in Chicago Oct. 21.

Circulation, too, has continued to advance in double digit percentage gains, despite three closely paced price increases, Baker said.

(Average daily circulation for the first six months of 1991 averaged 30,817, including about 7,200 copies of controlled circulation, according to the latest survey by Verified Audit Circulations.)

Those advances have been a pleasant surprise, Baker said, because Knight-Ridder has planned for a much more gradual increase in circulation.

So far, however, advertisers are not as enthusiastic as readers, particularly about the most innovative changes in ad formats, Baker added.

For instance, advertiser interest in the News' single-topic tabloid sections - a part of the paper highly popular with the boomers - has "disappointed" Knight-Ridder, Baker said.

News experiments with offbeat ad shapes and locations have not exactly set advertisers afire, either, he added.

"In all, the category of innovative ads was not much more successful than all of you have had in your own never-ending fight to increase advertising," Baker told the Inland publishers.

"We spent an awful lot of creativity and energy on these innovative ads for disappointing results," he added. Knight-Ridder is also looking for the right balance in an advertising format that has been wildly popular with readers: the classified grid.

In this format, used automobiles, for instance, are listed in uniform horizontal grids with columns showing make, model, year, comments and price.

"Readers really like these. They are very easy to use," Baker said.

Auto dealers, too, tend to like the grid system, he added.

Less enthusiastic are some real estate agencies whose aim in listings is not so much to sell a particular house as to get buying prospects into their shops, Baker said.

The format presents a couple of problems to the newspaper, as well. …

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