Media: Double Standards - In the world of newspapers, the regionals rule

Amra's Gary McNish and Steve Anderson-Dixon of Northcliffe talk about changes in local newspapers and why taking advertising in them can be so effective.

GARY MCNISH - managing director, Amra

Did you expect there to be This is one for Steve Anderson-Dixon

such a backlash from agencies rather than me.

when Northcliffe announced it

was reducing its commission


If the majority of regional Local advertising is key to the

newspaper advertising is success of local newspapers whether

traded locally, what can you buying a car, a house or looking for a

add at national sales job. National ad revenue is, however,

level? growing as key advertisers realise the

strength of the local press as part of

their marketing mix. National

advertising attracts local

advertisers, which is also a great

plus to any title.

How would you market the We market our medium as a local

regional newspaper medium trusted medium with a great

against strong penetration into the markets we serve.

competition? We can offer advertisers anything from

one title covering 10,000 readers to

250-plus titles nationally covering 14

million people weekly.

Is there a strong argument for Sales house consolidation has gone on

one national sales house for for a while now; five sales houses

regional newspapers, providing cover over 80 per cent of the market.

a single point of contact for We work together when the need arises

agencies? to give clients greater coverage, we

also compete in many areas at a local

level. The Newspaper Society also

offers, on our behalf, the opportunity

through them for clients and their

agencies to speak about the entire


Do you think the regulators It is hard to answer this as the

are over-zealous in their merger provisions in the

policing of potential Communications Act are very new.

mergers/acquisitions in Archant/INM was the first newspaper

regional newspapers? reference under the new regime and it

was rightly cleared by the Competition

Commission, which is an encouraging

sign. The hardest part for newspaper

companies will be in pre-guessing

which way the wind blows in terms of

the extended public interest


Which UK town or city do you Edinburgh because it is my home city

most like visiting and and also the most beautiful city in

why? Britain, if not the world (but I'm


What's the funniest regional One of our publishing clients, the

newspaper news story you've Manchester Evening News, ran a story

ever read? last year which told of a bank robber

in Manchester who walked into a bank

and handed his demand note to the

teller - on the other side of the note

was his gas bill complete with his

name and address. Needless to say, he

was quickly apprehended.

What's the best ad you've seen It's always got to be the most recent

in a regional title? new-business success. This week, it's

an ad for Flora, which was a media

first through our Capital Package of


What did you do last Indian takeaway Friday night; racing

weekend? at Sandown Saturday pm; dinner with

friends Saturday evening; mini rugby

with my two sons, Elliot and Callum,

on Sunday morning, and absolutely

nothing after that!

STEVE ANDERSON-DIXON - group advertisement director, Northcliffe


Did you expect there to be We thought that any change in our

such a backlash from agencies headline agency terms would be

when Northcliffe announced it contentious - more for some than for

was reducing its commission others - but given that virtually the

rates? entire regional press had already made

this move some years before, our

decision only really brought us into

line with the rest of the industry.

If the majority of regional We add enormously. Our National Sales

newspaper advertising is Business Development Team has

traded locally, what can you excellent relationships with agencies

add at national sales and clients and we are able to

level? demonstrate that the regional press

delivers audience and reach. We have

been able to attract significant new

business and develop existing


How would you market the When we can get before strategic

regional newspaper medium planners, they are often surprised at

against strong the strength of our medium.

competition? The regional press is an absolutely

awesome medium delivering audience,

reach and response. How Northcliffe

markets the regional press is by

concentrating on the aspects of how

our newspapers are perceived; how

they're used and valued, and what it

is that sets us apart from other

media. If I were a strategic planner,

I'd be thinking "what other medium

might I use to support my local and

regional press campaigns?"

Is there a strong argument for There probably is but, as yet, I have

one national sales house for not heard the argument that convinces

regional newspapers, providing me. Certainly, in conversations I've

a single point of contact for had with agencies, there is scepticism

agencies? that such a move would be beneficial.

However, if our customers felt that by

making such a move, it would generate

more advertising for the regional

press, that service levels would not

deteriorate, and both clients and

agencies would benefit, it's an

argument we would take very seriously.

Do you think the regulators There are significant advantages to us

are over-zealous in their of not being forced through a

policing of potential Competition Commission enquiry, simply

mergers/acquisitions in as a result of the circulation of the

regional newspapers? target's titles, regardless of whether

or not there is overlap.

Ultimately, the ability for us to

acquire overlapping titles will only

become easier if we can persuade the

regulators that the regional newspaper

industry is part of a complex and

competitive market.

Which UK town or city do you The place I enjoy visiting most is

most like visiting and Nottingham, where I had seven very

why? happy years as the managing director

of the Nottingham Evening Post.

What's the funniest regional It's difficult to think about just

newspaper news story you've one, but probably my favourite is the

ever read? one from years ago in the Torquay

Herald Express about the town centre

car park being "Tarmac-ed" with

members of the Chamber of Trade!

What's the best ad you've seen The best ad is the last one that we

in a regional title? sold that got paid for! Seriously, the

quality of creativity of advertising

in the regional press is

underestimated. There are some

fantastic examples.

What did you do last On Friday evening, I presented awards

weekend? at Westcountry Publications'

Excellence in Advertising awards.

These are known as the "Oscars", which

culminates in Northcliffe hosting the

group's "Oscars" in a few weeks. I

spent the remainder of the weekend