Newsosaur tells us what the May-Federated store merger means to newspapers. Not good. Well, mergers are never good for people who depend on advertising money. Beyond consolidating ad budgets, an AP report hints that the merger also means "shoppers will also be able to reap the benefits of a national loyalty program." Another card to carry! Such programs are in fact a greater benefit to the retailer, who can gather rich data on their best customers. So much data that newspaper advertising becomes increasingly unnecessary. With a database of customer names, a retailer can announce sales and talk to customers via email and mail much more cost-efficiently than newspaper ads -- which is already Home Depot's strategy according tothis Newsosaur post. A few weeks before everyone started buying everyone else out, someone said that "all the growth potential for advertising at newspapers comes from local -- and not national -- advertising." Then the real question is, do local advertisers have the kind of ad volume or budgets that can sustain their city's newspaper? Hmmm. And in a paper less overwhelmed with big department store ads, could a local business's ad stand out more? Hmmm again.
One other thing. James Lileks often asserts that papers should dispense with national and international news -- you've already seen it on TV or online -- to concentrate on local and regional reporting. Imagine a truly local paper, filled with in-depth metro reporting and loaded with ad messages from the quirky little shops and services around town. Would it be compelling? Or just an alternative tabloid filled with escort service ads? Triple hmmm. But I know this: I'd buy it.