Denver dailies fight for insert lead

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Total market coverage ad supplements have become the latest weapons for two newspapers battling a circulation war at the entry to the Rockies.

Instead of mailing its own ad supplement to non-subscribers as the Denver Rocky Mountain News began doing in February, The Denver Post has agreed to distribute Advo's ShopWise, a weekly insert product.

The ShopWise partnership -- the first of its kind for direct mailer Advo -- launched in mid-January after the Post reconfigured more than 600 carrier routes to deliver papers within Advo Targeting Zones.

POST WITH ADVO ON TOP

The Post has a Monday-through-Saturday circulation of 413,730 for the six months ended March 31, 1999, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Each week a ShopWise advertising supplement is placed on top of the Wednesday editions of 300,000 Post subscribers and rolled into a delivery bag. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the same supplement is mailed to another 690,000 non-subscribers in the six-county area.

Advo, which mails to 60 million households each week and had revenues of $1.04 billion last year, made newspaper partnerships one of its new initiatives last year, says Chris Hutter, VP-investor relations.

Using newspapers as delivery vehicles allows Advo to guarantee more of its supplements actually make it into homes and provides newspapers with marketwide coverage of their advertising. The company is discussing similar partnerships with other newspapers, Mr. Hutton says.

"It makes it a more valuable ad package for consumers and the advertisers," he says.

MORE IMPACT

Advo's partnership with a newspaper is an interesting way to increase the impact of direct advertising, says Carl Fremont, media director at Young & Rubicam's direct marketing arm, Impiric, New York.

Direct mailings "lose their impact in the mailbox because of mailbox clutter, which is why they are trying to use it as an outsert," Mr. Fremont says. "On a best food day, it would stand out and provide more impact than just placing it in the mailbox."

Jim Wall, exec VP-general manager at the Post, described the partnership with Advo as more than a simple total market product.

What Mr. Wall considers unusual about the partnership is the overhaul the Post undertook with its delivery department in order to target the supplement using Advo Targeting Zones instead of ZIP codes.

MILE HIGH VALUES

The targeting zones, which Advo launched in February 1998, include about 3,500 households grouped by characteristics such as demographics and shopping patterns.

A few weeks after ShopWise deliveries began, the News launched a new in-house total market coverage product, Mile High Values. It is its first such product in about 10 years.

The supplement, which has a circulation of about 850,000, is inserted in the Wednesday editions of the News and its sister publication, the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo., and is mailed to non-subscribers on Tuesday.

The Rocky Mountain News has a circulation of 446,465 Monday-through-Saturday for the six months that ended March 31, 1999, according to ABC figures.

Linda Sease, VP-marketing/new ventures at the News, says advertisers are benefiting from the double total market coverage products in the Denver area because they are getting better ad rates.

Ms. Sease says advertisers that are reluctant to buy newspaper ads are responding to the new insert.

"The concept is good , in that you can use one newspaper to saturate the town with ads," says Amy Kirby, marketing manager for supermarket chain Albertson's Rocky Mountain division.

While it is too early to gauge the success of the total market coverage products, Mr. Hutter says anecdotal responses have been positive and adds Advo is committed to the partnership. Mr. Wall says the partnership has helped reduce the competition the Post once had when Advo sent inserts into homes of Post subscribers.

"Advertisers used to have to decide, `Do we want it in the mailbox or in the newspaper,' " Mr. Wall says. "When we look at the success we have with advertisers who are beginning to use the [targeting zones] we promised would be available, and our sales reps make calls together with Advo sales reps, it helps create a big package of things people can use."

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