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Newspaper Inserting--This Time, It's Personal

June 2000
Newspaper inserts have moved away from the general audience and have taken aim at smaller pockets of subscribers—even at the carrier level.


BY ERIK CAGLE


Hey you, living at 221 Railroad Avenue! Yeah you, the one who just finished putting a deck on the back of your house about a month ago. Now you're on Johnson Hardware's list of prime candidates to receive its Handyman's Special sale circular in the Saturday edition of the Daily Bugle.

As advertising costs increase and the days of mass insertions lose their viability, advertisers look for more economical and effective ways of reaching their target audience. Zoning has long since reached the ZIP code level, but that's not going to hold clients for long. Advertisers have your address and a consumables rap sheet a mile long, so they're coming to your front door. It's the wonderful world of one-to-one marketing.

By the same token, the advertiser's partner, the newspaper, has to spit-shine its inserting machines and, in some cases, convert to the latest in high-speed insertion technology. Tremors of change can be heard rumbling like web presses throughout the mail rooms of large dailies throughout the country. The following is a look at what some of these dailies (and we've zoned down to each of the three time zones in the continental United States) are doing to answer the call of the modern insert.

Dayton Daily News
Stan Richmond, vice president of operations
Richmond wonders if the volume of insertions has reached its peak, given the steady growth over the last 20 years. Not that the Daily News (170,000 daily, 210,000 Sunday) expects volume to plummet any time soon, as it put the wraps on a new 260,000-square-foot plant in August 1999.

Larger machines with the capability to place numerous inserts into a jacket on a single pass are making their way into the Dayton, OH-based Daily News facility. Richmond & Co., the paper's parent, sought out increased automation and added more gripper conveyors, as well as made changes in press folders to produce more consistent product that can easily be inserted.

"We tried to automate the packaging center as much as absolutely possible," Richmond remarks. "We bought all the assembly functions—buffering, storage and retrieval, conveying, stacking, tying bundles —from Heidelberg because we believe in buying systems, not just components. We don't believe people who operate newspapers are good integrators of systems."

Many a truth said in jest.


 

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