THE POWER OF PREPRINTS: Is it time to resell innovative ideas to advertisers?

Author:Simpkins, Jerry

I remember not so many years ago mailrooms stuffed to the brim with pallets of preprints. During many holiday seasons we went so far as to bring in rented trailers for storage and packed every corner of the building with boxes and skids. Not only were national advertisers excited to have a mechanism to get their message out, but local ROP advertisers also saw the value of preprint advertising.

We often brought in armies of temp labor to load hoppers, and all of us worked 70-hour weeks throughout holiday periods. Thanksgiving was especially ornery with multiple packages and lines of tables pulled together so that carriers could hand insert their multiple packs into a one-part for final delivery.

Fast forward to 2018, where the drop in preprints has become yet another challenge we must face in our industry, and I must admit that I'm not quite sure what exactly happened. Sure, we still have preprints during the week, but definitely not as many. We still have Sunday packages, but they're nowhere near as thick as just a few short years ago.

Are we doing all we can to stop yet another backslide in our industry?

For once, I don't think we can blame the internet or technology as a whole. Many newspapers have experimented with digital preprints, but I don't believe they've caught on quite as well as were expected.

If you don't know by now, I love print. I believe in digital but just love print. In this article, I'd like to point out the advantages paper preprints have over digital. With the strength of social media, digital media, video streaming, tablets, cell phones, etc. there remains one area of print media that still offers more than can be replaced by any of these digital options--preprints.

Selling Ideas to Customers

Just a few years ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article that found less than 1 percent of people who read newspapers online click through to digital circulars. If you've ever tried to view a digital preprint on your phone, you know that it's just about impossible and isn't very user friendly.

Additionally, the article claimed that more than 80 percent of individuals who read a print newspaper look through the preprints. These are pretty favorable statistics, yet for one reason or another we are experiencing a decline in preprint numbers and associated revenues.

I recently read a promotional piece that outlined some very favorable aspects of preprints over digital. It stated that Walmart cut spending on circulars in certain regions and foot traffic in those regions decreased. It went on to reference a Daily Beast article that stated JC Penney's marketing team had found their customers browsed print circulars, but would still do their shopping online or in the store. They too saw a large drop in sales when they discontinued their catalogs (i.e. print).

So, circling back around, I don't quite understand why we're now seeing a decline in preprint advertising, but I sincerely believe this is one area we still have time to get out in...

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