The scoop on newspaper inserts

Karen Taylor
Senior account executive, print media, PlusMedia

Free standing inserts (FSIs) provide advertisers with an affordable advertising vehicle that allows for prompt execution and precise targeting capabilities. While the FSI was once thought to be reserved for consumer packaged goods offers, more advertisers are using this form of media as an effec­tive way to promote their brand mes­sage, as well as reach budget-conscious consumers who seek value and reli­ability in the products and services they purchase. Being surrounded by CPG offers is beneficial to advertisers of other types of products and services by help­ing to draw attention to their ads on a regular basis, since consumers view the FSI as a trusted source for value.

The FSI’s potential available exposure is vast and offers advertisers an extensive reach. In addition, flexibility in circula­tion options makes the FSI a viable advertising medium within any budget, from conservative to aggressive. The frequency of distribution also allows advertisers to test an offer or message in the market and evaluate response relatively quickly, enabling swift deci­sion making.

Creative execution is critical to the success of an FSI. Ads should feature visually simplistic designs and copy that clearly communicates the value of the offer. Headlines must immediately con­vey benefits to the consumer and entice them to read on for additional details, leading them to take action. Offering multiple reply devices (mail, phone or Internet) is equally as important and will help to increase response, especially for direct response-focused advertisements.

A variety of testing options make it possible to target FSI creative to a par­ticular area of the country. Additionally, testing page positions can help to deter­mine the effect of a premium position on performance. Advertisers must under­stand the need to test a statistically valid quantity and be willing to react to the performance of an initial test in order to make decisions for future campaign planning. When executed strategically, FSIs can be a highly profitable compo­nent of any media campaign.

FSIs are useful for any budget and offer a variety of testing options

Tom Murray
VP and general manager, FSIs, Valassis

Thought you knew everything about free standing inserts (FSIs)? Something you may not be familiar with yet is a trend that many consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers are beginning to adopt — the concept of retail alignment. Simply put, it’s when CPG manufacturers go to market the way their retail customers do.

Retailers have had to employ the use of shared mail to supplement news­papers in order to effectively and effi­ciently distribute their weekly circulars. With FSIs now distributed through newspapers and direct mail (along with the retail circular), the tie-in opportunity with how retailers market to their cus­tomers has never been better.

There are three main reasons why. First among these is media alignment. By using newspapers in some markets and shared mail in others, Valassis can ensure that our FSI is always aligned with the retail circular distribution. Now, the retail circular and the FSI will both be in either the newspaper or the shared mail package on the same day.

Next, there is timing alignment. Many retailers have “ad breaks” on days other than Sunday. Now, for example, both the retail circular and the FSI can be in homes together on Wednesday.

Finally, there is coverage alignment. Generally, FSIs go where the weekend newspaper goes, and retailers know that newspapers alone do not always reach the majority of their shoppers. There­fore, by using targeted shared mail and newspapers, manufacturers can mirror the coverage design of their retail customers to better cover a market.

Align your FSIs with the newspapers they will run in to maximize brand alignment

Robert Noga
EVP of media, AMG Global

Newspapers can be a very effec­tive direct response vehicle — our clients are able to track their inserts’ perfor­mance by newspaper. The benefit is that they can find out which newspapers are more effective, know their cost per acquisition and direct their spend in the successful markets.

A common misconception is that only metro newspapers have a deep reach. But there are newspapers that may be more cost-effective for a client’s individ­ual needs. Some clients use community, metro and suburban newspapers, but also ethnic and religious newspapers.

In some cases, suburban newspapers or the community newspapers have a more attractive rate. They also may have heavier penetration in the specific target area that the client is looking for.

Normally we sit down with them and find out what they are trying to do, go over specific goals or find if there are specific regions of the country that they are more inclined to highlight.

You can target newspapers down to the ZIP code level, so you can get extremely low rates — the cost to reach an area is substantially lower than direct mail. You can brand by running inserts throughout the newspaper, so the brand gets more visibility than direct mail, in an environment where people are reading the newspaper.

While some agencies go for creativity and neglect newspapers, the fact is that they work. We have clients that con­tinue to use newspapers and expand the markets on them for years. For dollars spent, it’s very effective and good results are hard to overlook.

Finding out which newspapers are most effective helps direct spend

Vincent Andaloro
President, Latin-Pak

While our focus is targeting to minority markets — primarily Latin, Asian and African-American audiences — even those who do broader general buys can learn from targeting niche audiences. By segmenting out larger neighborhoods across national buys as well as community newspapers and reli­gious newspapers, marketers can focus their offers and creative around what might interest a particular group.

The reality is that there are different needs among different groups. Some products will speak to people across a variety of segments, such as credit card offers. However, there are different reasons why a particular consumer will answer a credit card offer. By targeting a variety of ethnicities or lifestyles by geography or through community news­papers, marketers can leverage these differences through various creative.

The marketplace has changed. Clients have a better understanding of news­paper inserts and know that they want to reduce the waste of an unnecessary area or ZIP code. They have done the testing and they know how a particular community performs for them. The remaining challenge is finding the time to drill down and make the deals that are going to allow for this level of detail. This requires good and trusted partner­ships as well as an understanding of how a variety of markets interact with a particular product or service.

Often the first thing that gets cut is the budget to reach niche audiences. But by doing this, marketers miss the oppor­tunity to use the targeting capabilities that newspaper inserts have to offer and potentially ignore a growing popula­tion. Some examples of powerful niche audiences are the gay and lesbian com­munity, which totals 30 million in this country and often has a two-income, no child home, as well as the Latin market that is at 48 million and is expected to see significant growth in the next 10 years.

With segmentation, marketers can focus their offers and creative

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