Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Metro Takes on Paid-For Hierarchy

Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Metro Takes on Paid-For Hierarchy

Article excerpt

A big increase in circulation has given the freesheet the confidence to challenge the nationals. Nicola Clark reports.

Metro, Associated Newspapers' free morning newspaper, has set its sights on overtaking the circulation of the Daily Mirror within the next 12 to 18 months. The ambitious plan follows a significant increase in national circulation to about 1.36m copies a month.

The title has come a long way since its launch in March 1999 when, with a monthly circulation of 85,000 copies, it had a tough job convincing media agencies of its value. Now, Metro's young and affluent readership has ensured its place on the media schedule of a huge array of brands.

Despite this growth, Metro faces accusations that its bland editorial approach and free distribution model means it cannot compete with its paid-for rivals in terms of quality and brand association. Furthermore, the newspaper's contract for distribution on the London Underground network is up for renewal in 2010.

Notwithstanding this, while the capital's evening freesheets London Lite and thelondonpaper have been accused of 'burning money', Metro is profitable. DMGT, which owns Associated Newspapers, described it as a 'star performer' in its recent results and, although details have not been released, it is understood that the paper is making more than pounds 8m a year.

With its increase in circulation, Metro clearly wants to significantly boost its ad revenue accordingly, leading some agencies to express reservations about its ad rate hikes (Marketing, 29 August).

'Metro has extended its reach to stations such as Barnes and Richmond and the audience is still upmarket and urban, but there is more waste and I expect there will be fewer readers per copy,' argues Vizeum press associate director Hannah Murphy.

Marc Sands, director of marketing at Guardian News and Media, believes there is a proportional relationship between price and quality. 'If the paper wasn't free, people would not pick it up,' he explains. 'I have never heard anyone say they are a Metro reader, as they would with The Sun or The Guardian. Metro is the blandest thing on Earth.'

However, David Fletcher, head of Mediaedge:cia division MediaLab, suggest that this lack of editorial identity could be viewed as a positive thing for Metro. …

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