Publisher Cites Regional Advertising Opportunities as Key to Move.
As the first non-California member of the loose confederation of papers formerly known as Cal-AAN, Salt Lake City Weekly had participated in the national advertising organization now called the Alternative Weekly Network [AWN] since 1994. That relationship ended last week when the 50,000-circulation Utah newsweekly announced that it had signed on with The Ruxton Group, the national advertising rep firm owned and operated by New Times, Inc.
With the addition of Salt Lake City Weekly, Ruxton now sells national ads for 19 papers with a collective weekly circulation of 1.9 million.
“There were a number of factors that contributed to our move to Ruxton, including the reality that much of AWN’s growth has come regionally and we weren’t participating in that kind of regional growth,” says Salt Lake City Weekly Publisher John Saltas. “For example, papers in Ohio would get ads for the Ohio Zoo, which is great for AWN, but means absolutely nothing to us. But our relationship with Ruxton is an opportunity to expand regionally and nationally. For advertisers, we now can be packaged with our two closet regional neighbors, [Westword in] Denver and Phoenix [New Times]. With AWN, we couldn’t be packaged with anybody.”
AWN Executive Director Mark Hanzlik agrees with Saltas’ assessment: “Obviously, I have other feelings, but I think it’s a good business move for them. Those other papers [in Phoenix and Denver] have similar marketing qualities and a similar audience.”
Historically, Ruxton has represented big papers in large markets, such as the San Diego Reader, Chicago Reader and the various New Times properties. Recently, however, the group has enrolled smaller market papers like Tucson Weekly and the Austin Chronicle.
According to Phoenix New Times Publisher and Ruxton Sales VP Michele Laven, a paper must meet three criteria to qualify as a Ruxton member. “The paper must be an AAN member; have a [weekly] circulation of at least 50,000; and it must be a paper we’re proud to represent,” she says. “Salt Lake City Weekly is a strong paper and we’re happy to have it as our newest member.”
Saltas says “it’s likely” that Ruxton will also sell ads for his start-up paper, Mountain Times in Park City, Utah.
“With Mountain Times … our combined circulation is 60,000 weekly. That matches the afternoon daily,” he says. “A national combo buy would then give a client a deep-reach into one of the fastest growing markets in the country, and with Park City, one of the wealthiest. Ruxton is best positioned to take that message to advertisers.”
As for leaving AWN, Saltas says: “I don’t think they’ll miss us.”