Magazine article Marketing

Nationals' Sales Struggle Fosters Healthy Creativity

Magazine article Marketing

Nationals' Sales Struggle Fosters Healthy Creativity

Article excerpt

The national press has suffered long-term declines in both ad revenue share and circulations--with the last two years being particularly torrid. The response has been a constant stream of innovations designed to keep a hold on readers' hearts and clients' budgets.

The nationals can be applauded for their efforts--if not always for the results. Much thought has gone into new product development. In recent years supplements and sections have come and gone with the seasons. Special promotions, improved readership research and value-added supplements have demonstrated the determination to hold on to readers.

Developments in technology have led to an improvement in editorial and ad reproduction -- most noticeably through the use of colour which has proved a potent weapon in the campaign to pull advertisers from TV and consumer magazines.

Similarly papers have taken bold steps in search of new income streams. Advertorials, sponsored supplements and promotional offers show an increasing willingness among media owners to tailor their products to advertisers.

An enlightened approach to classified advertising has seen the arrival of the Sun's The Answer and the Mirror's Xtra. In the quality market there has been an increasing refinement of product intended to seduce jobs advertisers -- perhaps best represented by the revamped Guardian 2.

Likewise, cross-company projects are well in hand to produce money-off coupon book inserts. Shopper's Friend and Brand Movers will start dropping from the pages of your paper early next year.

The flurry of investment has been inspired by an intense climate of competition for national newspapers. Changing lifestyle habits, the impact of the recession and new titles have all forced them to pull out the stops in a way that surely hits their profit margins.

And on top of that, there are persuasive arguments that segmentation in TV audiences and increases in radio listenership will boost the appeal of those media to advertisers sufficiently to cause shifts in the adspend equation. Likewise increasing activity in the regional press (sales packages, improved planning and research) is explicitly intended to erode the nationals' dominance of certain revenue streams.

National newspaper figures resist this interpretation. The Daily Mail's ad director Guy Zitter believes that consumers will never again over-expose themselves financially as they did in the 80s. His assertion is that price-led marketing is good for the press. He describes this as "The new prudence. …

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