Tribune365, thinking beyond newspaper circulation

October 26, 2009

Monday’s newspaper circulation numbers please no one who makes their living from selling papers. That’s evident when you look at the top 25 dailies by circulation and see that the best performance came from The Wall Street Journal, which rose less than 1 percent. Considering that advertisers use these numbers to determine where to spend their money, there is little reason to rejoice.

Tribune Co’s two largest papers, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, both posted steep declines on Monday, but the company is urging advertisers to look beyond numbers that it considers less relevant than they were before the Internet. Instead, it wants them to look at how many people they can reach through Tribune’s diverse lineup of papers, websites and television stations.

To make this easier, Tribune has started “Tribune365,” a “multichannel sales solutions group providing customized marketing programs to advertisers looking to reach consumers across a variety of media platforms.” (More on what this means — in English — below.)

“We want to change the conversation around both how we sell and how people perceive newspapers.” Print circulation,” said Vincent Casanova, Tribune’s senior vp of publishing operations “just doesn’t tell the whole story… The objective is to change the conversation from a narrow look at topline circulation results to a broader discussion of the power of newspaper advertising and how to deliver results.”

For Tribune365, that means no longer selling ads to national buyers through a bunch of different sales teams that sell different kinds of ads for this or that part of a paper or this or that part of a website or TV station.

Tribune365 President Don Meek cited a recent ad campaign for big-box retailer Target, which set up one of a 16,000 square-foot “pop-up store” in Chicago (Those are the temporary stores that spring up in cities for a few days at a time, sell a bunch of stuff, and move on):

“We were able to put together an integrated program on WGN, WGN-TV, the Chicago Tribune, RedEye, Hoy… The only thing we couldn’t deliver was the outdoor bus shelter advertising on Michigan Avenue. Not only were we able to provide real estate and promotional support, it was also a fully integrated ad program. They said it was one of the most popular programs that they ever did.”

Here’s another thing that ought to appeal to advertisers, thanks to AdAge’s article on Monday that includes a section on Tribune365:

Big newspaper companies are also looking at putting all their data about their readers, in print and online, to work for marketers. Tribune’s new Tribune365 unit is planning to introduce a universal registration system for all Tribune sites this year, with universal registration for mobile visitors in 2010. “We are getting such a fine degree of detail in terms of targeting that we will eventually be able to target a physical product to a household address, a digital product to the digital user in that household and a mobile product to the mobile user in that household,” said Don Meek, president of Tribune365.

That kind of project, of course, benefits from the biggest possible audience of registrants, something that charging for even unique, niche content could undermine. Mr. Meek declined to discuss prospects for pay plans at Tribune. “We’re going to try a lot of different things,” he said. “Which ones ultimately prevail, it’s too soon to tell.”

And that, dear readers, is really the bottom line.

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[...] A Reuters blog discusses Tribune365, a “multichannel sales solutions group” at the LA Times and Chicago Tribune (both papers were really big losers in Monday’s numbers game). “That means no longer selling ads to national buyers through a bunch of different sales teams that sell different kinds of ads for this or that part of a paper or this or that part of a website or TV station.” [...]

[...] MediaFile » Blog Archive » Tribune365, thinking beyond newspaper … [...]

It’s about time. Tribune365 makes tremendous sense. “Audience aggregation” has become the name of the game, which should now mean aggregating audience across multiple media (er, um, “platforms”). A wise move.