Working closely with advertisers can help newspapers to establish a good brand image, says Paz Alvarez Sanchez-Arjona, Market Intelligence director of Marca/Unidad Editorial in Spain, speaking at the WAN-IFRA conference 'Using sports news to optimise your revenues'.
She has worked closely with marketing and advertising teams. This was satisfactory for the advertisers because the campaigns were distinctive and became well-known. This created loyalty and gave her brand a good, dynamic image, as well as revenue.
Marca is the leader among newspapers in terms of readership in Spain. It has 2.8 million readers, far more than any other newspaper in Spain. There are 40 million people in the country, with four national sports newspapers. Marca is located in Madrid and focuses a lot on Real Madrid and football, although it covers all the sports. In the last few years, a number of local papers have popped up, focusing on local teams. These detract from Marca's readership.
Its growth has been sustained over its long history: the paper dates to 1938. It focuses a lot on sports coverage but also covers the emotional side of sports. In the last year it grew in readership by 8%, and is competitive with television programs. The introduction of digital television is creating a huge fragmentation in television audiences, even in prime time. The paper has a similar reach to prime-time TV programs. It is seen as a newspaper rather than a sports newspaper. And its readership is large every day of the week, not just on the days after big matches.
People's news consumption has changed, she says, and people have more time to read on weekends, but Marca still attracts over 2.6 million readers every day of the week. Marca is first, second or third for readership in all local communities, and publishes 14 local editions. Eighty-one per cent of readers are men, usually young and middle class. It has more readers aged 14-24 than any other paid newspapers. A large proportion of readers are upper- or middle-class. It ranks third among Spanish newspapers in terms of readership by business people. This is an important selling point for advertisers.
In terms of sport newspaper circulation, Marca is first, and surveys show it is well-regarded by the public. It ranks second in terms of online readership, having just overtaken Elpais, she says. Also, it has a radio channel, Radio Marca, and a television presence.
They're earning a lot of income from their website but they need to continue working on it and want to achieve synergy. Marca has a lot of young readers, and they often read the online version, although they do read some printed versions, in schools for example or if their parents buy it.
People feel they have a duty to read general news, she says, but no-one feels the same way about sports news. Rather, they read it for enjoyment. This kind of news interests and impacts the reader. Sports newspapers can do some things that general newspapers can't, and they have more freedom in terms of format and design. For example, Spanish mobile phone company Movistar contacted them to run an ad campaign and said they wanted something special, a different typeface. A distinctive snake-like 'M' logo was placed in headlines in place of a regular 'm', as well as in images.
Mobile phone company Vodafone wanted to establish a link with the sporting world and reach out to students and young people. They created a text message-based campaign, where people could play games and win prizes. The aim was to get people interacting.
An online betting company wanted to encourage people to go from the newspaper to their online betting site and to get people talking about them. So Marca used the front page and added some catchy editorial, like asking whether the prime minister was going to stay at home or go to Vienna. This attracted attention and encouraged people to move to the betting site.
Marca has used a variety of other innovative advertising campaigns. They produced special booklets with all the information about a particular football cup, including supplements about the teams and a guide to the cup. Sponsors featured prominently. Activities were organised for fans and free tickets given out to matches, which enabled the newspaper to connect with readers. The paper also organises events, which develop solidarity between different people who attend. A special campaign for Renault was launched, with the whole newspaper dedicated to the event; this is something that regular newspapers can't do, she says. And Heineken, a premium brand of beer, used to be associated with music and cinema, but became involved with the newspaper and gradually learned more about football through running its advertising campaigns.
They use images that attract reader attention and run reader quizzes, asking questions with answers that can be found in the newspaper. All of this kind of activity enabled Marca to create more income and boost their image as an innovative newspaper, which moves with the times and is close to people, she concludes. This boosts the effectiveness of advertising.