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Panpa Bulletin : March 2006
24 | PaNPa bUlletiN March 2006 they’re loving it ‘lite’ ahost of free (or 'lite') stand- alone dailies or brand-ex- tending versions of the ex- isting product have been launched to reach the 30-something profes- sionals of the planet. The gamble has paid off handsomely for many, providing an additional revenue source through new advertisers for their businesses. The revolution started with the launch of Metro in Stockholm in 1995 and there is now a Metro newspaper in almost every major city in the world. Metro Interna- tional publishes 59 editions in 83 cities including New York, Hong Kong, Paris, St Petersburg, Prague and Santiago. There is also a Metro distributed in London and other major UK cities, but it is published by Associated Newspapers. australia’s own niche freebies Full-colour lifestyle publication mX was launched in Melbourne five years ago and eight months ago in Sydney. It is based on the successful model of the free daily metropolitan newspapers around the world, like Metro. Published by News Limited, mX covers impor- tant issues to both cities' popula- tions in a "concise, upbeat, funky, intelligent and sexy way," said mX Melbourne editor Toni Hethering- ton. It has a circulation of 92,000 in each city and reaches at least 240,000 people in Sydney and Mel- bourne each day, Ms Hetherington said. After six months of publish- ing the signs are still mixed for Sydney's paper. mX has hit its cir- culation target of 90,000 copies, however, Roy Morgan's readership research shows that only 50,000 people read mX. News Limited is putting this down to the small interview sample; only 78 people. This compares to the interview group for Melbourne's mX (650 people questioned), where the pa- per experienced its third straight readership increase after five years in publication. "mX follows on from commuter newspapers around the world and in Australia mX is unique. "We rely solely on advertising as income, which is always difficult to live by in the newspaper world. "We target a unique audience - our content focuses on 18-35 year-olds. This, and full colour, sets us apart. Advertisers recognise this and fully support the product. "Advertising has never been better in Melbourne but there is always a fine balance to consider and you have to be mindful of costs. We have to create opportu- nities without compromising our readership," she said. mX is designed to be snappy and concise so readers can get through all the sections they love by the time they get to their stop. "People commute so it's easier to read [a paper like mX] in that en- vironment. They can get through the lot by their station," Ms Heth- erington said. Throughout Melbourne and Sydney mX is distributed by sam- plers who hand out the papers to commuters and via boxes, fixed in Melbourne and portable in Sydney, that are positioned at key points throughout the cities. While many publishers were scared off free products thinking they may affect the paid publica- tions, News Limited didn't baulk at the prospect. When mX launched in Melbourne it had the support of News Limited, and still does, Ms Hetherington said. "They made a full commitment to back and run mX and they are still tremendously supportive of it, especially now it is in Sydney," she said. "We have received additional backing in terms of advertising. mX hasn't cannibalised the Herald Sun's circulation at all. In fact it's gone up. Maybe more people are enjoying reading newspapers now and are picking up the Herald Sun as a result." The objectives behind mX are to inform and entertain com- muters and hold them on the way home from work. "We keep them informed of the breaking news since they went to work that morning," Ms Hetherington said." Our aim is to continue giving to readers a paper to use in everyday life, to help them utilise their city better and know what goes on in it."From news, sport and business through to features focusing on health needs, entertainment, gos- sip, travel and the latest in IT, mX is designed for getting the most out of life," she said. mX is targeted at an audience of highly influential and afflu- ent young people who are time- starved and getting harder and harder to reach using traditional media. While the mX reader is pri- marily 18-35 years, the papers are also popular with readers aged be- tween 12 and 80 years. "We aim at the 18-35 demo- graphic but think the others read mX because in keeps them young or makes them feel older because they are reading the same paper as a 20-year-old," Ms Hetherington said. "We are mindful of this when putting content in the paper." The typical mX reader enjoys life and is success driven. Their interests include bars/clubs, din- ing in restaurants/cafes, shopping or travelling and new experiences making their attention very diffi- cult to catch. "mX has the mix just right, prov- ing itself as the clear leader in its field in both content and popular- ity," Ms Hetherington said. "We will continue to bring read- ers more of the innovations that have become synonymous with mX." Metro Sets the tone Metro International has adapt- ed its formula to suit different cul- tures and now has more than 15 million readers around the world, including a combined circulation of 5.1m in Europe. Metro targets young urban professionals that advertisers want and so has seen its revenues soar from A$13.2m in 1995 to $414m last year. Metro has a standardised edi- torial style and design in all coun- tries, ensuring each publication is homogenous for the advertis- ers' benefit. Once distributed via public transport, Metros are now found where commuters are, such shopping centres, offices, univer- sities, libraries and coffee shops. Distribution is modified to suit each market. There are 7m cop- ies printed each night at 53 plants and then delivered by 500 trucks to 3200 hand distributors and 22,000 racks. Metro International man- aging director Pelle Tornberg de- scribes his publications as "glocal". "Metro has the same editorial line, layout, template [around the world], but every Metro is per- ceived as being a local newspaper," Mr Tornberg said. Metro banks on the notion that news is free, like the Internet. Mr Tornberg believes paid-for news- papers will survive if they become niche publications with higher cover prices and accept smaller circulations. He predicted that while paid-for papers provided Publishers have gone ‘lite’ in a bid to attract the elusive market of young adult professionals writes Johanna Baker- Dowdell While many publishers were scared off free products thinking they may affect the paid publications, News limited didn’t baulk at the prospect.