Innovation, audience awareness key to circulation: NAA executive

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NEW YORK - Innovation, creativity and technological adaptation were the buzzwords yesterday at the 2007 Circulation Management Conference and Expo.

Keynote speaker John Kimball, chief marketing officer of the Newspaper Association of America, emphasized these ideals in his speech, "What Magazine Circulators Need to Learn from the Newspaper Industry."

"In this business, creating a sense of reappraisal isn't going to be enough," Mr. Kimball told a gathering of the nation's leading circulators. "We need to innovate with new products as well."

Mr. Kimball spoke optimistically about the newspaper industry's growth. He reiterated the importance of appealing to both advertisers and consumers in creating a brand that stands out in an increasingly saturated market.

"We've got this great idea and all of these messaging opportunities," Mr. Kimball said. "But how the hell do you stand out?"

He went on to describe the newspaper industry's aggressive advertising strategies, which appeal to both advertisers and niche demographics. He also stressed the value of word-of-mouth in spreading brand awareness.

Mr. Kimball described several successful advertising strategies used by the NAA. These included the creation of a special Web site catering solely to advertisers and two recent multimillion-dollar ad campaigns. Last year's campaign for news advertising drew more than 1,000 newspapers to webinars on the subject and boosted Web traffic for individual newspapers.

This year's campaign is taking what Mr. Kimball calls an "edgier, more modern" approach to print advertising, aimed at attacking the misperception that the Internet is killing the newspaper industry.

The multimedia campaign launched three ads in April, one of which bore the tag line, "The Internet is the best thing to happen to newspapers since the paper boy." The ads direct readers to the NAA's new site at www.newspapermedia.com.

Mr. Kimball's speech outlined the five ways print publications could and should reinvent themselves. These dealt with creative layout and advertising, sponsorship, innovative newspaper design, Web site design and niche publications.

These approaches, Mr. Kimball explained, should be used to create a product that the audience wants. If a publication knows its target audience, it becomes easier to attract advertisers who want that audience.

"This is an audience game that all of us are in," Mr. Kimball said. "It is looking at the marketplace and saying, 'What do they need and how do I make it and how do I get it to them?'"

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