Last night Ellen and I were at the Friends of Nevada County Military Packing Party. One of the stable items we pack for Nevada County’s deployed military is a copy of The Union. Across the table Congressman Doug LaMalfa was packing a box, and he ask, “should we remove the inserts” before putting The Union in the box? The inserts would be useless to a soldier on the battle field. [Note: Rep LaMalfa often comes to NCFM packing parties.]
I was thinking how spot on that observation was, finding inserts more and more useless on the battle field or at home. This morning, I found this on the Marginal Revolution blog:
Inserts are one of the last sources of advertising to resist digitization. They are also the next to go. Businesses like Cellfire and Find & Save are working on digital coupons; stores like Kroger’s and Safeway already offer online coupons direct to customers. This digitization is progressing as print circulation decays. Back in Roanoke, the Times was on the market for 5 years before it was bought; in that time the paper lost a quarter of its Sunday readers — 106,000 to 85,000 — and a third of its weekday readers — 96,000 to 65,000. This story too is being repeated all over the country. The print audience continues to defect to mobile, abandon the local paper, or die.
As digital alternatives become attractive while print circulation withers, business will start to shift their money away from inserts. When the inserts go, Sundays won’t prop up the rest of the week. When Sundays turn bad, the presses will become unprofitable.
We no longer take The Union, instead read the key stories on line. That way we do not have to deal with the inserts or dead trees piling up in the paper bin. As noted above, Ellen uses Safeway On Line Coupons, putting them on her iPhone, along with her shopping list.
How much longer will the inserts keep The Union alive? Stay Tuned.