and Calkins Media’s updated Newzware circulation platform
Nearly two years after going live on ICanon’s Newzware software, Calkins Media said it has significantly improved circulation operations and its user experience for registering and subscribing.
“We installed in 2012 after looking at systems from four different vendors to replace our in-house marketing system,” Bill Loebecker, circulation director of Calkins’ Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pa., and Burlington County Times in Willingboro, N.J., told News & Tech.
Calkins has deployed the cloudbased app across its other papers as well, including the Beaver County (Pa.) Times, the Herald-Standard in Uniontown, Pa., the Intelligencer in Doylestown, Pa., and the weekly South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Fla.
Newzware, which physically resides on a server in Conshohocken, Pa., manages some 90,000 subscribers across Calkins’ three Pennsylvania dailies. Total circulation for Calkins’ titles is approximately 128,000.
“We can get a lot more out of this system than what we were able to previously,” Loebecker said. “We can generate subscriber pages, run reports for the (Alliance of Audited Media) and daily reports, and it integrates with our accounting and advertising software.”
Managing multiple products
In addition to its print products, Calkins is using Newzware to manage circulation of digital products including replica e-editions, websites and Apple, Android and Kindle apps.
“The apps offer any content that an editor decides to push ahead of time, but also contain the articles from the print edition,” said Todd Warner, director of product development for Calkins Media.
One subscription gives readers all access to print, e-edition and apps for the paper to which they subscribe. Implementation of Newzware varied a bit at the Beaver County Times and the Herald-Standard where hard paywalls have been put in place for certain online content.
Calkins’ Pennsylvania papers make all online content available for 24 hours after it’s posted, after which time local content goes behind a paywall and nonlocal and syndicated content remains free.
“For all of our print and Internet customers, Newzware allows us better management of our customers,” said Mike Dampman, circulation operations supervisor for the Bucks County Courier Times and Burlington County Times. “On our old system we could do certain things, but we couldn’t interrogate.”
Calkins’ old system, dubbed Calkins Online Marketing System (COMS) was mainframe-based and required programmers to maintain it. It was also very diffcult to extrapolate information, such as old subscriber data, from that system, according to Warner.
“It was very inflexible and slow to market with new products,” he said. “Now, with the click of a button, we can get whatever data we need directly exported into an Excel spreadsheet.”
Further prompting the move to Newzware was the looming expiration of the lease on its COMS mainframe.
“I didn’t want a new lease and I had an army of programmers sustaining that,” Warner said. “It used to be that several things resided on that mainframe — advertising systems, etc. — and as those went away it became a huge burden to maintain the mainframe just for circulation.”
The Newzware platform also offers subscribers better self-service access and tools, according to Dampman. Customers can access and manage
their account online.
“ ey’ve never had that before,” Dampman said. “Conversely, our carriers have a portal, too that allows them to go in and view a route list.”
Many subscribers still go through customer service to manage their accounts, however, and the Newzware system allows Calkins’ reps to access all of its sites through a single customer service center. e Burlington County Times handles customer service for all of the group’s titles, prompting Calkins to install backup Internet connection pathways there.
“I think the other interesting thing to say about the install is we actually did seven newspapers — granted one is only a 10,000 weekly — in nine months,” Warner said. “We made the decision in November, and the mainframe lease was up Sept. 1, so this was a very ambitious project.”
Calkins’s COMS system originally went online in the fall of 1989.
“When you think about the history of that data — the data is very unclean and data conversion was a full-time job alone as we brought this up,” Warner said. “But we didn’t miss a single deadline.”
Next up, the publisher will look to expand delivery of different products using the Newzware platform — it recently inked a deal to distribute the (New York) Daily News out of Burlington.
“Our old system wouldn’t have handled that, but Newzware has given us that opportunity,” Loebecker said.
Calkins also plans to grow its e-mail marketing through deeper customer knowledge and is investigating the addition of an e-mail engine that would facilitate the collection of demographic and cyclographic information about subscribers that could be used for marketing purposes.
“That’s in its infancy, but we’re looking into it,” Warner said.