Free Dailies Get National Ad Network

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

In another sign that commuter and youth papers are not a fleeting industry fad, free dailies now have their own national rep firm.

Fittingly, perhaps, the Free Daily Newspaper Network (FDNN) launched today is headed by a former publisher of the Metro commuter dailies that spurred mainstream publishers in many cities to create their own free quick-read papers: James McDonald, now president of Journal Newspapers, which circulate in suburbs of Washington, D.C.

McDonald is a former publisher of the Philadelphia and Boston versions of Metro, which were introduced in the U.S. by the Swedish company Metro International.

In its announcement, FDNN said the network includes, in addition to the Journal Newspapers, AM-New York, the New York City five-day free paper published by Tribune Co. Agreements in “several other major markets” are pending, said FDNN, which added it plans to include only one free newspaper in any given market.

FDNN’s director of sales and marketing, Susan Peiffer, compared the network to the Ruxton Group, the rep firm for about 30 alternative papers. Peiffer, who most recently was with Philadelphia Metro, said the network will work to sell national advertisers on the young demographic attracted to commuter or youth papers.

“A lot of advertisers still haven’t embraced the idea of free papers,” Peiffer said in a telephone interview. “For some reason they don’t seem to think dailies have value unless they were paid.” But she said national advertisers can be attracted to the free daily readers, which she described as “employed, busy people who don’t have time to read five sections in a newspaper.”

Among the first targeted advertisers are wireless phone companies, who were early converts to the free daily paper. “We’re also going to go after advertisers who have left print for broadcast” in search of a younger audience, Peiffer said. “We’re going after the Oil of Olay’s of the world, skin creams, beauty products — not your typical newspaper advertisers,” she said.

FDNN will offer one-stop shopping for national advertisers, who will be able to choose among markets.

“There are some branding and sampling programs FDNN can offer that the paid dailies generally can’t,” Peiffer said. “We can place our circulation promoters wherever the advertiser likes.” Among the options: back cover advertisers can showcase their ads in the plastic see-through pouches of their newspaper vests. “(Hawkers) can be dressed in the advertiser’s promotional hats, t-shirts, or other logo-wear, and they can distribute packaged good samples in high-traffic areas,” she added. “These are things we have done very successfully in the past for many national advertisers in select markets and now we can offer this high impact channel nationally.”

FDNN will have offices in New York City and Washington.

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