Saturday, November 7, 2009

USA Today sticks it to the NYT and WSJ in attempt to attract more Jesus ads

USA Today sticks it to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in an ad in yesterday's edition.

Headlined, "The real No. 1 is USA Today and has been for 10 years," the ad is the latest shot in a battle pitting major American newspaper titans against one another as they compete for an ever-declining pool of ad dollars.

Jesus ad dollars! More on that in a second.

Citing the Sept. 30 ABC FAS-FAX Report in the ad's small print, USA Today says it's "No. 1 in daily print circulation" at about 1.9 million copies - "total paid circulation minus electronic editions."

Add electronic editions to the mix, and WSJ is at number one.

The bad news

USA Today leaves out the larger news in the same ABC report, as reported by Editor & Publisher, which is that the newspaper industry is up shite's creek:
"ABC reported that for the 379 newspapers filing with the organization, average daily circulation plunged 10.6% to 30,395,652 - one of the most severe drops in overall circulation. USA Today had earlier announced a 17% hit."
I've always liked USA Today - the short articles and colorful graphics always seemed like a perfect fit for online consumption, and its website was among the first to embrace the idea that a news site should be updated all of the time, even when people are sleeping.

All three newspapers have great online editions and ass-kicking iPhone apps, though the Wall Street Journal just started charging for its app, and the USA Today app - though available in Canada - can't find it in its heart to locate Winnipeg; sadly, its GPS-based weather function tells me that I'm living in Noyes, MN.

Calling all advertisers!

Apart from that, USA Today's ad is notable for drawing the reader - make that "the advertiser" - to its online media kit, where it makes its best pitch for advertising in the paper.

The media kit even makes public USA Today's rate card:

2009 Usa Today Rate Card

It's interesting to know that a full-page, national, color ad in USA Today costs: $231,000; you get a 26 per cent discount for buying $8 million worth of ads and up; and that USA Today's themeline is "We're all in this together."

In what? A declining industry?

Which makes it all the more interesting that the paper, in the same edition, features a quarter-page ad from in its Travel section that explains, "Eight Compelling Reasons why: Christ is Coming Very Soon!," one of which is "Explosion of travel and education."

We're all in this together!


  1. As someone who has read USA Today quite a bit over the years and has always enjoyed it, I have to agree with you that it's well suited to online.

    You can't expect newspapers to go completely digital. We really need the print editions of newspaper. What else are you going to wrap your posessions with, or look for a new job in, or use to start a small fire in a dumpster after you lose your job and your house is foreclosed on? Glossy magazines can't save you because they burn poorly, you need newspapers! Remember, we're all in this together. Save newspapers, save yourself.

  2. "Eight Compelling Reasons why: Christ is Coming Very Soon!," one of which is "Explosion of travel and education."

    Does that mean Jesus is coming back to get an Arts degree and bum around Europe "trying to find himself"?


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