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Media Power 50: No. 4 USAToday

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Over the years, some observers have dismissed USA Today as a lightweight, dubbing it "McPaper." But when it comes to delivering a top-level business audience, the Gannett Co. flagship can go toe to toe with such heavyweights as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times .

"USA Today is a national newspaper, and we have so few national newspapers that it occupies a unique space," said Donna Mercer, partner-media director at advertising agency Howard, Merrell & Partners.

"It has a strong demographic and a large audience of business decision-makers," said Mike Paradiso, global media director at Computer Associates International. "For the coverage they give, they're unmatched."

In the IntelliQuest CIMS 2004 business influencers study, USA Today finished just behind the Journal in reaching C-level executives, reaching 318,000, compared with 331,000.

In other measures, USA Today outperformed the Journal and New York Times. For instance, USA Today reaches 1.1 million business technology purchase influencers compared with 908,000 for the Journal and 557,000 for The New York Times, according to IntelliQuest. Additionally, the Mendelsohn Affluent Survey indicated that USA Today reaches more C-level readers than either the Journal or New York Times .

"The research shows our favorable reach as well as the [readership] composition, which is surprisingly comparable between the two, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal," said Rick Bonti, an advertising director in USA Today's New York office.

Proprietary research of top executives by Accenture also showed that top executives were reading USA Today. "They rely on USA Today to provide them with headlines and give them a snapshot of what's going on around the world," Teresa Poggenpohl, partner and director-global brand, advertising and research for Accenture, told BtoB last year. "That was a huge insight for us."

Executives read it both at the office and when traveling. It is not much of an exaggeration to call USA Today the official newspaper of the road. It is ubiquitous in hotels and airports.

"We've used that very successfully to target business travelers. I think that's a great use of the publication," said Kelly Konis, managing director of Carat. -S.C.

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