Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Prospecting for Gold in Mountains of Data

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Prospecting for Gold in Mountains of Data

Article excerpt

As newspapers try to keep other media from eating their lunch, they're looking for more sophisticated ways to reach their customers. Business-systems vendors are responding with new software products that promise to help newspapers better use the mountains of data they have on their customers.

One example is a customer-prospecting program from Marketing Solutions Group Inc. in Okemah, Okla., that can help a newspaper get more business from advertisers. The system locates businesses that the newspaper hasn't already contacted and indicates how much a business is likely to advertise based on an industry profile.

One of Marketing Solution's newest customers, the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, is installing the customer-prospecting program in its advertising department. Ad operations manager Joyce Plunkett says the hope is that the system will replace the "drive down the street" method of looking for new businesses and reduce the amount of time spent on research.

"As with any other thing, the key is to maximize the time you spend on selling," Plunkett says. "You go after the ones that are the most likely candidates."

Also new are circulation and advertising data-management systems from Laurel, Md.-based Data Sciences Inc. (DSI). Combining address, household, business, and other demographic databases, DSI's system can tell a circulation manager if a new subscriber is also an advertiser, while a sales rep can use reader demographic data in a pitch to potential advertisers.

Some newspaper customers couldn't comment on DSI's system because installation is ongoing. At The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., which is installing DSI's advertising data system, executives plan to use the program to get better demographic information and offer advertisers more rate flexibility than the current system allows. "You cannot believe how hard it is to come up with plans for advertisers," business manager Bob Davis says.

Newspapers' intensified focus on marketing is drawing new business- systems suppliers to the market. One, Dimensional Insight Inc. in Burlington, Mass., began targeting newspapers this year. Company president and CEO Fred Powers says that, as newspapers move to the Internet, they will need such products to analyze the effectiveness of their online ventures. …

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