CAMPAIGN REPORT ON GERMANY: Turning point for news - A new arrival on Sundays has shaken up the German newspaper market scene. Rob Gray assesses how the news-based publications are maintaining both advertisers and readers

By ROB GRAY, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 12 April 2002 12:00AM

Germany's national Sunday newspaper market has long been ready for expansion. Until autumn last year there were only two titles, both owned by Axel Springer: Bild am Sontag, which targets the popular mass market, and Welt am Sontag, which boasts a more upmarket reader profile.

That changed on 30 September 2001 when the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung made its Sunday edition, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sontagszeitung (FAS), national. Previously, the FAS had been available only in the Frankfurt and the Rhine Main regions with a limited editorial programme.

"The new FAS has been a success right from the start, not only in terms of distribution, but also as far as advertising is concerned,

FAS's advertisement director, Wolf-Dietrich Auerbach, claims.

FAS targets an upmarket, affluent demographic. It had net sales of 247,835 copies over the fourth quarter of 2001, and has succeeded in attracting advertising from categories such as consumer goods, lifestyle and fashion.

As one would expect, special discount packages have been offered to advertisers who commit to both the FAS and its daily sister title FAZ.

The big question is what impact the arrival of the FAS, and the growth of the Sunday newspaper market in general, will have on the leading news weeklies, Der Spiegel, Stern and Focus. All three titles enjoy substantial circulations and have a good track record in attracting advertisers. What's more, in the last quarter of 2001, for the first time in history, Der Spiegel outsold its arch-rival Stern, increasing its circulation by 9.6 per cent to an average of 1,106,750 copies.

"In general, Sunday papers cover target group segments which are difficult to reach,

the managing director at Optimedia Germany, Michael Enzenauer, says. "They watch less TV and read selective magazines and newspapers. So Sunday papers are well placed to increase media power at the upper market target groups. FAS is perfectly aimed for business communication as well as for high class campaigns.

"These markets are always looking for new channels and many important advertisers have put their corporate campaigns in FAS. These insertions have of course influenced revenues in other publications. But due to the general decline in adspend at the moment it is difficult to know for sure whether additional ads in FAS are paid from other titles or not."

OMD Germany's director of print, Bernhard Willer, argues that the launch of the FAS was necessary to broaden choice. There is, he says, no evidence that it has cannibalised readers of other titles, not even from Welt am Sontag. But as far as advertising is concerned he is of a different opinion.

"I believe that the advertising in the Sunday publications must come from the classic news magazines Stern, Der Spiegel and Focus,

he says.

"That is because there is no increasing advertising market in Germany right now."

However, the marketing manager at Focus, Horst Jarkovsky, argues that the arrival of the FAS will have a direct impact only on other Sunday newspapers.

Der Spiegel's marketing director, Christian Schlottau, takes the same view. He also asserts that "cross-media

deals will become significant.

Der Spiegel, which has successfully extended its brand both online and on to television, is pushing packages to advertisers covering all three media.

Yet although the management at Der Spiegel professes not to regard the FAS as a threat, it is interesting that they have been testing Sunday publication of the magazine in Berlin (the title normally comes out on a Monday).

Willer says he has heard that moving publication forward by a day has been well received. He expects a similar test to be carried out in another major German city and should this also prove successful, he is convinced that Der Spiegel will move to Sunday publication.

Gruner & Jahr's Stern has also been testing an alternative publication date, this time in the Hessen region where it has been appearing on Wednesday instead of its usual Thursday publication. A permanent switch may be complicated by the fact that for years the magazine's advertising slogan was "Thursday is Stern-day".

It will be intriguing to see whether other publishers follow the lead of FAS and launch on Sunday. If any do, it will be a brave decision .

With media spend under pressure, such ventures might prove risky, especially as distribution of Sunday newspapers is so expensive.

However, as Focus' Jarkovsky points out, 2002 is expected to be stable or slightly better for advertising in Germany than 2001. But because of severe pressure on media spend, how the existing cake is sliced up has become more important than ever.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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