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Hyperlocal Print Media (Sept 2016)

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Metroland Media details the ins and outs of manufacturing community newspapers and distributing flyers in Ontario, using a range of tools to measure its market penetration.

Keywords: advertisers, advertising, advertising flyers, Barrie, bindery, BrandSpark International, brochures, business cards, Canada Post, Central Ontario Web, cold set community presses, commercial print, commercial printing, community newspapers, community presses, community style presses, consumer marketing shows, customer data, customer demographics, customer lifestyle, customer psychological profile, customer purchasing behaviour, daily newspapers, Dean Zavarise, digital newspaper properties, direct mail, door hangars, Durham, EGLX, flyers, flyer distribution, Flyer Distribution Standards Association, flyer placements, geo-demographics, geographical information systems, geographic targeting, Goss printing presses, greeting cards, grocery store chains, Hamilton, Hamilton Spectator, Hamilton Web Printing, heat set single web presses, home delivery, hyperlocal print media, inserting, inserting equipment, inserting machines, KBA Colora presses, labels, large format printing, lettershops, London Free Press, magnets, marketing materials, market penetration, Metroland Media, Metrolandprinting.com, Metro Ottawa, Metro Toronto, Michelle Digulla, Nathan Matheson, newspaper carriers, newspaper packages, newspaper printing, Niagara This Week, online news sites, Ontario newspapers, operations managers, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Performance Printing, point of service customer data, postcards, Postmedia, PrintAction, print media, printed flyers, printing plant closures, print newspapers, readership surveys, regional distribution centres, Save.ca, scheduling printing jobs, sheetfed presses, signs, Smith Falls, software management systems, Star Media Group, stationery, Stoney Creek, targeted advertising, target markets, tear cards, Tempo Avenue, tent cards, Thuroweb Printing, Toronto, Toronto Star, Torstar Corporation, Torstar Printing Group, UV printing, variable data printing, Victoria Gaitskell, WagJag.com, Waterloo Region Record, Web storefronts, Web to print, youth carriers

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Hyperlocal Print Media (Sept 2016)

  1. 1. 14 PRINTACTION · September 2016 PRINTACTION.COM Metroland Media details the ins and outs of manufacturing community newspapers and distributing flyers in Ontario, using a range of tools to measure its market penetration By Victoria Gaitskell P robably Metroland Media, owned byTorstar Corporation, which also owns Canada’s largest daily print newspaper, the Toronto Star, is best known for publishing over 100 community newspapers. Geographic- ally the circulations of these papers span the province of Ontario, from London in the west to Parry Sound in the north to Ottawa in the east, with predictably the densest concentration in the Greater To- ronto Area. Most of Metroland’s news- papers are distributed weekly, some twice a week, and two – the Hamilton Spectator and Waterloo Region Record – are dailies. Annually, the company also distributes four billion advertising flyers – partly printed by themselves but mostly printed by others – door to door to households in its newspaper-circulation areas. This year, in partnership with Brand- SparkInternational,Metrolandcompleted a study of its community news readership, comprising over 13,000 online and tele- phone surveys of adults in Metroland’s circulation areas.The study shows that 90 percent of respondents use either Metro- land’s printed community newspapers or flyers for local news or shopping informa- tion. Recently, I asked Michelle Digulla, Vice President, Marketing, Metroland Media, and Dean Zavarise, Executive VP and General Manager, Torstar Printing Group,who oversees Metroland’s printing activities, for details on how Metroland maintains this high degree of market pene- tration in Canada’s most populous prov- ince. Digulla and Zavarise also discuss the future of Metroland’s community news- paper and flyer businesses, and how these fit with corporate strategy. HYPERLOCAL PRINT MEDIA DISTRIBUTION Metroland’s massive KBA Colora web press is located in Torstar’s second-largest and most modern plant, located on Tempo Avenue in Toronto.
  2. 2. 16 PRINTACTION · September 2016 PRINTACTION.COM Metroland’s portfolio Digulla says,that besides their community newspapers and flyers, Metroland Media is one ofthe largest direct-mail distributors in Ontario,tothetune of four billion pieces a year that reach about 84 percent of On- tario households each week.In addition to the digital assets associated with its com- munity newspapers, Metroland also operates other major online community news sites that Digulla says are one of its fastest growing businesses, currently ex- periencing double-digit growth. The company also publishes printed magazines and organizes experiential consumer marketing shows in such cat- egories as bridal,food and wine,travel and most recently a video-gaming show called EGLX, by far its largest expo, that pre- miered inToronto in April. Digulla explains: “Our biggest assets are WagJag.com, a group-purchase Web- site where Canadian consumers can buy discounted products and services, and Save.ca, the largest digital flyer and cou- pon company in Canada. We dabble in otherinterests,buttheonesI’vementioned are the biggest buckets.” Hyperlocal media Digulla says one of the main reasons be- hind Metroland’s strength in community newspapers isthe company’s longstanding connections to the communities it serves: “Hyperlocal content really matters to the members of a community. Two-thirds of our online traffic comes from search and social media, where we find many people sharing our local content because of its uniqueness. They can’t find it anywhere else. “Our staff who produce the community newspapers live in those communities, so we knowthe people intimately,whattopics interest them, what causes a stir, and whom to call for the inside story. These relationships give us the right balance be- tween the ability to act locally and be part of the community versus the large scale of a big company that enables us to do our job efficiently.” Zavarise explains: “To maximize effi- ciencies across our entire platform,Torstar Printing Group operates as a network of printing plants and has downsized or consolidated plants as needed. In the last threeyearswe have closed three plants.”In July 2016, this included Metroland’s Vaughan plant with printing of the Toronto Star outsourced toTCTranscontinental. Zavarise lists the six plants Torstar Printing Group currently operates across Ontario, all with mainly cold-set web newspaper-printing capabilities: Ranked by number of staff, the largest is the Ham- ilton Spectator plant (in Hamilton), where they print Metroland’s two dailies on three large double-width Goss presses and per- form offline packaging work for the Toron- to Star. Besides printing and distributing its own properties,Torstar also prints and/ or distributes newspapers published by competitors; for example, just recently it signed a contract to print Postmedia’s London Free Press (published six days a week) in Hamilton starting in October. Torstar’s second-largest and most mod- ern plant, located on Tempo Avenue in Toronto, is equipped with a KBA Colora press and two lines of community-style single-width presses. Largely the Tempo plantprintsbiggercommunitynewspapers, and also MetroToronto,the free daily owned by Metroland’s sister corporation Star Media Group, also a subsidiary ofTorstar. Zavarise says the Tempo plant’s produc- tion consists of about 85 percent work for their own or affiliated companies and 15 percent general commercial work for third parties. “AtTempo we are just starting up a new, relatively small heat-set single web instal- lation – our first foray into this type of equipment after many years.Its purpose is to print smallto medium runs of flyers and other marketing materials,whichwe see as an opportunity to grow our already strong relationships with many flyer advertisers by offering them more services,” explains Zavarise. A third plant, Central Ontario Web in Barrie, with two community newspaper press lines, is used to print Metroland’s assets including its many newspapers cir- culated in northern communities like Barrie and Muskoka. At a fourth facility, HamiltonWeb Printing in Stoney Creek,a single line community press prints news- papers and third-party commercial work. Thuroweb Printing, a small fifth facility in Durham, near Owen Sound, produces newspapers for southwestern Ontario communities such as Fergus, Mount For- est and Elmira. Zavarise says Torstar’s sixth facility, Performance Printing in Smith Falls, a suburb of Ottawa, is the company’s most commercial-style plant, providing both newspaper printing (including Metro Ot- tawa) and full-service printing capabilities fortheOttawaarea.Itsequipmentincludes two cold-set community press lines (one tower with UV), sheetfed presses, bindery, an inserting facility,and a digital lettershop operation for direct mail. Commercial third-party printing Zavarise explains:“Our jobs for Metroland and Torstar are a captive business. Gener- ally they are fairly routine and fall into the same slots each week.But our commercial printing is more opportunistic, and we’re always glad to take on more commercial work.” He adds that the schedule at each ofTorstar’s six plants is overseen internally by each location’s operations manager,but when major changes are requested by publishers and third-party commercial customers,a central planning team figures out where they can best schedule the work to ensure efficiencies and that customer requirements can be consistently met. Since the busiest production days tend to beTuesdays,Wednesday andThursdays for community newspapers and Mondays and Fridays for flyers, he says commercial work is often scheduled in between these crunch times to maximize use of resources. “And if necessary, we also maintain rela- Torstar has a network of six printing plants, including its second-largest and most-modern located on Tempo Avenue in Toronto. Dean Zavarise, Executive VP and General Manager, Torstar Printing Group. Percentage of people within Metroland’s entire footprint read at least one of the last four Metroland community newspapers. Readership is particularly strong in the GTA(including Durham, Halton, Peel, and York) with 84% readership. 73%
  3. 3. 18 PRINTACTION · September 2016 PRINTACTION.COM Have a question? #AskAvanti avantisystems.com/askavanti 1.800.482.2908 AskAvanti@avantisystems.com Avanti Slingshot is the only JDF-certified, cloud-based Print MIS in the market today. It incorporates business intelligence, production planning, fulfillment, shipping and billing into one easy-to-use and easy-to-implement print MIS platform. Like Love #AskAvanti Did I make any money on that job? VISIT US AT GRAPH EXPO BOOTH 1879 PA_Avanti_September16_CSA.indd 1 2016-08-22 11:31 AM tionships with other companies who can do our overflow printing.” Zavarise continues: “In the last three months, we started Metroland- printing.com, a do-it-yourself Web storefront offering our advertisers and other clients and the general public the ability to order a large gamut of printed products from us directly online. This portal was the brainchild of Nathan Matheson [Director of Business Development and Administration for Metroland Media and Torstar Printing Group], who thought, that instead of just selling what our plants can do, we should facilitate all forms of printing for our customers. This strategy en- ables us to build on our existing rela- tionships and make things easier for our clients by offeringthem one-stop shopping.” The Website’s current online offerings include business cards, stationery, postcards, bro- chures, door hangers, greeting cards, tear cards,tent cards,magnets,labels and large-format signs. Flyer fine points Zavarise explains: “Our distribution business is a very solid, reliable pro- cess, audited by the Flyer Distribu- tion Standards Association. It is a sophisticated operation involving not a few guys in a back room, but hun- dreds of people working in massive facilities of 10,000 to 80,000 square feet with one to four inserting ma- chines. Across our footprint, we operate 14 such large regional distri- bution centres, most with ma- chine-inserting capabilities.” He says all their distribution facili- ties share a common software management system to track the week’s flyer placements and delivery destinations. This system records which zones each flyer needsto reach and downloads the information to the inserting machines at each fa- cility. Each facility waits for the printing plants to deliver the week’s flyers before they can start building packages. Typically they start on Friday for aThursday delivery and work aroundthe clock andthrough the weekend, depending on the size of the packages to be assem- bled for individual homes.For one community newspaper, a typical package can contain 30 or 40 dif- ferent flyers, says Zavarise. Once packaging is completed, contract- ors transport the bundles of flyers to carriers’ homes along with the printed newspaper for their com- munity. Usually a Metroland newspaper and one or more pack- ages of flyers are delivered separ- atelytoeachcarrier,whoassembles them into a single package and delivers it door to door. “Occasionally we use Canada Post, but in many markets we still distribute flyers in packages via youth carriers,each deliveringto as few as 50 or 60 households,” Za- varise continues.“That’swherethe complexity lies. Advertisers can narrowly target where their flyer lands.We can helpthem determine which zones have the right demo- graphics to match their target market.” Digulla comments: “No one else in Ontario is large enough to afford or warrant the type of work we do for major clients in targeting flyersto specific locations based on point-of-service customer data collected by the clients. Our team includes a specialistwith a Masters degree in Geographical Informa- tion Systems who can calculate very narrowly targeted deliveries to as few as, say, 60 homes based on factors such as demographics, income, pur- chasing behaviour, lifestyle, or psychological profile.” Zavarise says that advertisers often use this targeting service on simpler terms by choosing to distrib- ute their flyer to one specific portion of a community rather than the communityasawhole:“Forexample, although a big grocery store chain might want their flyer to reach every household, a small laundromat might only want their flyer to go to the 1,000 homes located closest to the laundromat.We have the capab- ility of doing that. “And if 20 other types of business- es are doing the same thing,” adds Zavarise, “an individual carrier might end up with a unique set of flyers that is quite different from the package delivered by the carrier on the next block.” Future Geo-demographics In the next three to five years, Digul- la expects to see much more interest and business activity from clients based on point-of-service data and geo-demographics. She also antici- pates that Metroland will be doing more to expand and leverage its growing digital properties. Both Digulla and Zavarise say, that although in general the Can- adian newspaper business is being severely challenged bythe movement of advertising dollars from print to digital media, Metroland’s study indicates consumers’ receptiveness to printed community newspapers and printed flyers delivered door to door remains high. Consequently, they feel optimistic about Metro- land’s ability to continue attracting advertisers to sustain these business- es into the future. Additionally, Zavarise predicts, that although at present, relatively speaking, they do not print a lot of variable data for their flyer advertis- ers, the demand for this service may grow in the future. For example, right now they print and circulate multiple versions of Niagara This Week in six different zones. Some content is common to all six, but other content is limited to certain zones. Similarly, Digulla says a gro- cer who has great take-up on particu- lar products in a specific area may customize their flyer for that specific area and request a special drop. Inthe future,advertisers may start exploiting these types of possibilities more often.“It all depends on them,” says Zavarise. “We’ll stay open to whatever they need.” Readers are spending an average of 22 minutes reading the newspaper, according to a Metroland study, including over six minutes reading the inserted flyers. 22 Min. We help them determine which zones have the right demographics