NEWSPAPERS TAP MEDIA-BUYING EXECS TO HELP REPOSITION

New Council Will Weigh How To Add Web To Audience Metrics

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Continuing its efforts to convince ad buyers that newspapers are undervalued, the Newspaper Association of America has formed an executive advisory council composed of top media agency executives and high-power advertisers.

As soon as the council was assembled, however, the riptides pulling at a newspaper industry with stagnant paid circulation again became clear. Where the Newspaper Association emphasized total audience and argued that a focus on paid circulation figures sells the industry short, council members spoke immediately to the Web that looms ahead.

“In today’s newspaper business, the focus has rightfully shifted toward the unsurpassed localized relevance of the news content versus the physical paper on which the content is printed,” said Andrew Swinand, senior VP-group client leader at Starcom and a member of the six-person executive advisory council, known as the EAC. “The potential activation of newspaper content within the world of digital media will be key to the industry’s evolution, and the promise of success therein drives my personal participation in the EAC.”

No conflict
John Kimball, senior VP-chief marketing officer at the Newspaper Association of America, said maximizing the Web does not conflict with protecting the industry’s anchor, newsprint editions.

“I wouldn’t say that it signals a lack of attention or focus on the core product, but I would say that it does signal the view that the Web is an increasingly important element and we better figure out how to package and incorporate it into the mix,” Mr. Kimball said. “The challenge is, how do you package all these things that newspapers are doing -- whether it’s the core product and Web site and all the other things they’re doing -- in such a way that you can tell the advertisers what the audience looks like for each of those pieces and price it in such a way that they can buy it?”

The committee’s formation follows the association’s recent release of the first Newspaper Audience Database -- another piece in its strategy to place total readership on par with paid circulation statistics.

Flat market
The impetus, of course, is generally flat or declining paid circulation for newspapers. According to the association's analysis, the latest semiannual report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, for example, showed a 2.6% top-line decline in paying weekday readers among 786 papers.

In addition to Mr. Swindand, the new advisory committee comprises Beth Fidoten, senior VP-director of print services, Initiative; Irene Grieco, print media manager, Unilever; Scott Kruse, senior VP-director of print, MediaCom; Jeff Piper, VP-general manager, Carat Press; and Gary Vasques, exec VP-marketing, Kohl’s Corporation.

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