At Mediabids we recently became aware of a somewhat unique insert program at the San Francisco Chronicle. They call it the ”slim jim.” It’s essentially a multi-page, double-sided pamphlet (full-color, 6 wide x 10.5 tall.) In fact, you may have seen a similar ”insert” from American Express or another lux brand in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Anyway, this got us thinking about inserts and newspapers in a slightly different way.
One unique aspect of the slim jim product is the personalization feature; the inserts are going to San Francisco Chronicle subscribers only. As such, the advertiser prints ”Exclusively For San Francisco Chronicle Subscribers” on the front and back cover. This tactic isn’t necessarily cutting-edge but it is more often used in direct mail than newspaper inserts. Furthermore, the advertiser is using a unique phone number specifically assigned for the slim jim. The calls (both inquiries and sales/reservations) are then tracked back to the paper’s subscriber list. The tracking/reporting allows the advertiser to precisely measure ROI.
A top travel brand has been running the slim jim consistently for the past year. By all accounts it has been a very successful effort. Relative to a simple newspaper display ad, the slim jim really plays to the strengths of the advertiser and newspapers. Indeed, for advertisers and publications, there’s a lot to like about this type of insert product because it is essentially ”content marketing via newspapers.”
There are several reasons why newspapers are ideal content marketing distributors – targeting and context to name two. Affluent households are readers and print is a proven, high-conversion media channel. Insert products, like the slim jim in particular, allow for engaging graphics and copy -qualities that tend to be more appreciated by affluent, print media consumers. Perhaps most important though, good content can further the duo marketing goals of brand and sales. Print display ads, on the other hand, tend to struggle to further more than one objective at a time at a time.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea of newspapers as content marketing distributors is not new. Advertorials have been a part of print publishing for generations and we are only a couple of years removed from the ”native ad” craze of the early 2010s.
We are well into the era of digital publishers being content marketers themselves and offering content marketing services to clients. Content is ”king” and print publishers are beginning to catch-up to the idea. Nevertheless, beyond the largest metro dailies, the idea that newspapers (and inserts) are a great way to distribute marketing content may not be top-of-mind in print ad sales departments around the country.
Increasingly, advertisers want marketing campaigns that are cost-effective, measureable, ideally allow for the right amount of personalization and reach qualified consumers or purchasers efficiently. The San Francisco Chronicle’s slim jim (and similar insert products) check off many of these ”must haves” of smart marketers in 2016.
Post by Jim Jinks