AWN Celebrates 10th Anniversary

March 29, 2006

The Alternative Weekly Network (AWN) is proud to announce the 10th anniversary of the 102-member national ad sales cooperative. Over that decade AWN’s accumulated gross billings have exceeded $135 million. The independent cooperative uses a member-empowered sales structure—fielding the industry’s single largest sales force on behalf of nearly 200 publication titles in AWN’s growing sales roster.

The member-empowered sales structure allows ad reps from all publications to sell ads into the entire network. The unique sales structure has been a potent force in reaching advertisers in all parts of the country and driving a significant amount of regional business for member papers. “Over the years, reps from more than 50 AWN papers have been active in the sales process,” explained John Morrison, AWN Sales Director. “It’s sometimes a challenge to manage all the sales activity, but that’s not a bad problem to have, and it’s been made far easier because of the common vision and tremendous cooperation of our members.”

The continued sales growth and emergence of new ad categories, and accompanied by an increasing level of advertiser awareness of alternative weeklies were significant factors in year-after-year sales rewards for the cooperative. Each year a minimum of 50 new national advertisers discover AWN’s value and the same number return buying various configurations. Morrison says network sales buys range anywhere from two-publication transactions to some of the more successful campaigns that delivered ads to more than a 100 papers.

AWN’s size and depth of available papers has always allowed the independent-spirited group to stay one step ahead of its industry competitor The Ruxton Group. “With print products in nearly every major city in the country, there are few national ad opportunities that get past our radar,” states Morrison. “In addition to having a lot of eyes and ear on the streets looking for business, AWN itself has become a well-known one-stop shop for potential advertisers.”

Since its humble beginnings, AWN has been committed to promoting the alternative industry, using funds generated by its members to market initiatives to the national advertising community of potential advertising clients.

“In the first few years of existence, AWN spent over $500,000 on marketing projects designed to brand and promote the alternative industry,” explains AWN executive director Mark Hanzlik. “Our philosophy has always been to promote the alternative industry first. We believe our efforts over time have been effective in communicating our value to prospects and instrumental in bringing new advertisers to alternative papers. AWN’s commitment to branding the alternative industry continues today.”

Since its inception in 1996, AWN has continued to grow both in cooperative membership and total number of papers served. AWN currently books ad space for nearly 200 publications and non-daily free circulation alt weeklies.

The 4th Quarter 2005 alt industry mega-merger between New Times and Village Voice Media took away six long-time AWN members from the independent cooperative. “Sales to chains have cost us important members over the years,” points out Hanzlik, “but the good news is that new papers are still emerging and we receive new membership inquiries from papers regularly.” AWN’s larger product reach within the alternative industry along with on-going cooperative regional sales and training have contributed to its growth and livelihood over the past ten years.

For more information about AWN, contact Executive Director Mark Hanzlik (916-551-1770 x24 or or Sales Director John Morrison (916-551-1770 x22 AWN’s website is