Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Local Daily To Charge for Thanksgiving Ads

This is what you'd be paying for.
OK, so here's one of the more novel ideas I've ever come across for stiffing people who buy your product:

The Roanoke Times has sent a letter to subscribers telling them they will be charged $3 extra for the Thanksgiving issue. That issue is traditionally the largest of the year because it is full of advertising inserts, getting ready for Black Friday, which often occurs on Thursday these days. Thursday is Thanksgiving.

In any case, The Times wants subscribers to pay to get advertising. It has always been my understanding that advertising paid the freight and that subscriptions and newsstand sales were small supplements to that major profit center. I have never heard of anybody requiring customers to pay for extra ads.

The letter says, in part, the edition "is one the most expensive newspapers to produce and the most difficult to distribute. From reserving additional space to store the papers, to hiring additional staff to assemble the packages, our planning process begins months before The Big Day. Moreover, many of our delivery contractors utilize additional help to complete deliveries so that you may enjoy your paper Thanksgiving Day."

This is yet another indictment of the printed version of the publication. If it were online only, the ads would weigh nothing and there would be no additional cost for printing, mailing, throwing them all into the landfill and the like. They would be digital images.

It is truly fascinating following the gyrations of this business trying--against all traditional business practices that work--to generate profits, whether or not short-term and whether or not sustainable. I hope our area business schools are following this closely.

(I just got this e-mail from a Times subscriber: 

("I used a simple solution.  I ordered a vacation stop to my subscription for Thanksgiving Day and ordered a credit to my subscription balance. I don’t need, and wouldn’t read, the advertising garbage.  I wonder what the advertisers will think when many subscribers do what I did?  Did the advertisers know in advance that the Roanoke Times was going to piss off their intended audience?  Is that smart advertising practice?
(One thing we can almost be certain of, the Thanksgiving Roanoke Times will NOT “be loaded with news.”  The Roanoke Times has not been “loaded with news” for quite some time.)

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