and Calkins Me­dia’s up­dated Newzware cir­cu­la­tion plat­form

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - BY TARA MCMEEKIN ED­I­TOR-IN-CHIEF

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.”

Bet­ter ac­cess

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.

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