The trade-off is that subscription numbers will fall, but by curtailing strenuous efforts to pull in fringe, deal-enticed subscribers who generally exit once the deal expires, they hope to reach a stable level of customers who take the medium seriously. The New York Times looked at the new strategy, in which declining circulation numbers were said to be more than just evidence of continuing migration to the internet for news. A large part of it is newspapers focusing on core readers, driven by advertisers who just aren’t interested in users out of their target demographic or geographical center.
The latter element is of particular concern to a retailer. Why blanket the northern extremity of a media market with a coupon insert if your business serves only the southern extremity? And who cares that the newspaper sold a thousand subscriptions to college students if you’re in the appliance business?
From the newspaper’s perspective, the raw cost of reaching out to fringe subscribers is saved, not to mention associated printing and material costs. Newspaper hopes to be left with a stable and high quality roster of readers.
According to NYT, one of the areas some newspapers are cutting back is in advertising their own product. The SVP Jack Klunder of the Los Angeles Times said it was one of those papers. "You need to advertise in the long run, but we make a lot of short-term decisions in this business."
RBR observation: Newspapers apparently are just now learning about a broadcast reality that has existed for decades in the radio business and is a fact of life in television since basic cable became ubiquitous. All remain mass media, but none can any longer hope to deliver a plurality of our increasingly diverse population. The answer is narrowcasting to one degree or another, assembling a definable audience that can be sold to the appropriate advertising clients. Of course, we find it a little amusing that a media business would try to sell clients on the need to maintain their advertising budget, especially when times are tough, when it finds itself incapable of taking this advice itself.