The competition is heating up in South Africa’s weekend property advertising and listings space. This after Times Media Group unveiled its newest property supplement, Neighbourhood, this past weekend. It comes not long after Independent Media launched its own property supplement, Home, in its weekend publications. And of course, the group’s thud-factor weekend property guides have long been a boon to buyers and estate agents. Michael Bratt found out more about the two supplements.
When approached for comments on its new property supplement, Times Media Group referred the matter to Shaun Minnie, who is the CEO of The Creative Group. The company is the co-owner of the supplement with the Sunday publication. According to Minnie the idea of partnering with The Sunday Times to produce a weekend property supplement came about as a result of The Creative Group continually measuring the effectiveness of its various distribution channels for its clients.
“We realised the strength of the Sunday Times brand versus its competitors became impossible to ignore,” Minnie said. He goes on to say that what was attractive for The Creative Group, as a property publisher, is the quality and relevance of the Sunday Times’ editorial copy. “It matters. The loyalty and profile of the Sunday Times reader is also very appealing.” He described the experience that The Creative Group brings to the partnership, as it has a rich history in publishing property advertising, going back 18 years.
The end result of the new supplement could be more eyes on Sunday Times copy. Minnie says, “While property advertising revenues are marginal they attract a good readership which I imagine will be beneficial to circulation.” Most of, if not all, the major real estate agencies seem to have bought advertising, or just general content, in Neighbourhood. Minnie says they were driven to the supplement by one factor in particular, “While most other papers’ circulation is declining, the Sunday Times has by and large bucked the trend. Its larger and more stable circulation was the main driver.”
In concluding the interview he also touched on the evolution of the role that print fulfils in adding value to the property industry, which has seen significant changes over the past five years. He cites the advent of property portals as a prime example of the change. “To continue adding value we must make the often hard choices that best serve the advertisers, and these are seldom without an element of risk.”
The presence of real estate agencies in the Sunday Times’ new Neighbourhood supplement could be cause for concern for Independent Media. They too recently launched an extra property offering in their weekend publications, Saturday Star, Saturday Argus and Sunday Tribune, called HOME. But when contacted for comments regarding their new competition in Neighbourhood, the group decided to focus on its own supplement.
In a statement the group said that HOME is “one of many content initiatives Independent Media regularly rolls out on our platforms to add value to our readers and advertisers.” It went on to describe who the supplement is targeting, including homeowners, home buyers, property speculators and investors. In terms of content, HOME will include “everything from advice on conveyancing and bond repayments, to showcasing dream houses locally and around the world, trend and décor advice as well as useful information about various neighbourhoods.”
The statement concluded by saying, “property has always been – and will continue to be – an integral part of our weekend newspapers’ content offering, complemented by our very successful IOL Property digital product. The response from clients and advertisers in the property sector to the HOME supplement has been extremely encouraging and we are very positive about its revenue and readership prospects.”
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