Suburban newspapers launch national advertising network

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Suburban Newspapers of America and ten community newspaper chains have teamed up to form a national advertising network that will launch in mid-August.

The network is intended to make it easier for national advertisers to place business with multiple suburban and community newspapers. An invitation to join the network has been extended to all SNA members and remains open until June 30.

"Right now, our segment of the newspaper industry is somewhat fragmented and complicated to buy," said Susan Karol, executive director of SNA Foundation, Traverse City, MI. "The network will remove that barrier and open up a new option for national advertisers looking for an alternative to metro newspapers."

Network members include ASP Westward LP, American Community Newspapers LLC, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., GateHouse Media Inc., Schurz Communications, Sun-Times Media Group and Suburban Newspapers Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of SNA.

Smaller market newspapers with fractional ownership of the network are Rust Communications, Packet Publications, Recorder Community Newspapers and Holden Landmark Corp.

The network is looking to profit from the money that Big Box retailers and national advertisers have begun shifting into community newspapers in recent years. The standardized pricing, sizes and video opportunities made available by a national network make smaller publishers more attractive to national advertisers.

SNA executives hope that adding new advertisers and collaborating with other community papers through the network will benefit their own publications. It will also encourage growth in the small newspaper industry as a whole.

Over the next two months, a director, an account executive and an inside sales and service representative will be hired. During this time, rates will be collected and service agreements will be signed by newspapers that want to receive national advertising from the network.

MANSI, a division of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, will handle all database functions, billing, ad verification and other behind-the-scenes work. It currently places more than 100,000 individual insertion orders per year.

SNA represents more than 2000 daily and weekly suburban and community newspapers. The association has been working to promote partnerships between its members and advertisers for more than 35 years.

SNA's efforts include the commissioning of research studies like the Belden 21 market research report. The organization also produces print advertising directories and presents to major advertisers on behalf of member newspapers. SNA also facilitates round-table discussions and meetings between its members and advertisers.

Other community newspaper associations exist throughout the United States. However, Ms. Karol cites SNA's particular concentration on marketing in the association's recruitment of new members.

Future plans for SNA include the establishment of more locally-focused programs and initiatives in print and online. It will also expand the efforts of the SNA Foundation, a charitable trust, to provide research and education to suburban and community publishers.

"Individual community newspapers have not always been able to attract national advertisers on their own, as these advertisers are typically looking for broader reach," Ms. Karol said. "Being part of a vast network will enable these newspapers and their Web sites to receive national ad placements that they might not have gotten on their own."

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