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Major NAA Ad Initiative Seeks outside Partner

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Major NAA Ad Initiative Seeks outside Partner

Article excerpt

NICC, the organization's newly launched national ad-placement service, has cost millions to date

Less than two months after the launch of the Web-based ad-placement service of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), the trade group is looking for outside help, E&P has learned.

NAA's board "authorized us to pursue partnerships or business relationships with outside organizations," said NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm, who reported that discussions with potential partners have been going on for several months. Asked whether outside help might reduce or eliminate the need for NAA to continue spending millions on the project, Sturm said, "We're beyond what I want to comment on at this point."

Last week, E&P reported that NAA Chairman Andrew Barnes responded to a question about cutting off funding by saying, "I'm happy to say [that] is not the question right at the moment." But Barnes, also chairman and CEO of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, said there was "considerable concern and discussion" about the ad-placement service's technology and usage.

NICC, as the NAA's for-profit ad-placement service is known, was conceived as a project to make newspapers more attractive to advertisers, who have long dreaded the excruciating difficulty of making multi-newspaper buys. Although NAA has invested millions, and the project has endured delays, Barnes said he remains a strong NICC advocate because it helps him to improve his "bottom line." Barnes conceded, however, that NICC faces hurdles: "It's not obvious just what is the right way to get from the point where we are to the final point."

By early February, NICC had signed up 1,321 daily and weekly newspapers, said Sturm. NICC's best-known competitor is Seattle-based OneMediaPassage.

Barnes and Sturm declined comment on estimates that as much as $15 million has been invested in NICC, which has a staff of about 15 at its Vienna, Va. …

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