South Africa’s ‘big four’ publishers have formed a new joint industry council, to be known as the Publisher Research Council, which will look after their interests, and conduct audience research on behalf of members. Caxton, Independent Media, Media24 and Times Media Group form the core of the new council, but it will be open to all print and digital publishers, big and small. Glenda Nevill reports.
The new formation will not impact on the role of Print and Digital Media South Africa (PDMSA), the PRC consultant Britta Reid told The Media Online. “The PRC has a very specific and defined role. This is to commission and co-ordinate the industry research required by and/or relevant to the advertising, marketing and media industries. In particular, it is to establish and maintain accepted cross platform readership currency research for the use of the advertising, marketing and media industries,” she said.
The remit of the PDMSA is far broader, Reid said. “It sets out to provide a forum for discussions on all print media issues, which affect its members collectively, and to co-ordinate the exchange of information affecting the print media industry. In addition, it lobbies and promotes the interests of print and digital media at all levels of government and relevant groupings. It seeks to promote, support or oppose legislation, regulation, by-laws, bills or other governmental decisions or proposed measures, which affect or might affect interests of its members,” she explained.
Reid said the relationship between the Broadcast Research Council and the National Association of Broadcasters set a precedent, as “the BRC oversees broadcast research, while the NAB focuses on broader regulatory issues.”
She said a similar scenario would play out as far as the Interactive Advertising Bureau of South Africa (IAB SA) was concerned. “The IAB has a different and eclectic membership structure encompassing online publishers, creative, media and digital agencies, brands and educators. It also has a broader remit incorporating regulatory issues. Clearly there is some overlap as the many publishers’ brands run across platforms,” Reid said.
There have been some preliminary discussions on the way forward between the IAB and PRC, she said, and there is a clear intention to collaborate on issues of mutual interest. “The tone for this collaboration has already been set with Peter Langschmidt having worked with the IAB on the development of the Telmar Internet Planner, which melds Effective Measure Data with AMPS.”
The PRC said in its launch statement it would “Produce more relevant measures than just the traditional readership metrics of AMPS”.
Multiplatform engagement is a “pressing measurement necessity”, said Reid. “With AMPS all media exposures were essentially equal. The measure was simply how many thousands of people were exposed to a medium,” she said. “But we also know that people interact and engage with different media in different ways. Understanding that involvement and how it varies in the consumer’s decision-making process will aid media strategists to achieving the right mix. It will also enable publishers to prove the real value of their media. Reader psychographic segmentation will provide greater insight in how best to communicate with consumers.”
Funding this kind of research is costly. So how will the PRC be funded? “Funding will be through publisher contribution, with costs shared according to a pre-determined funding model. Although the initiative is being driven by the larger players in the industry, provision is being made for the participation of smaller players. This approach is similar to the one used by both the Broadcast Research Council and the Outdoor Measurement Council,” said Reid.
The elephant in the room, of course, are the publishers themselves and their notoriously competitive and often acrimonious relationships. “Rufus Olins, CEO of Newsworks, has a great description: ‘co-oper-tition’, where publishers embrace competition in some realms and prefer co-operation in others,” Reid said. “The publishers understand they need a currency and it is in everyone’s interest to co-operate in delivering one to the industry that is credible and reliable. Marketing collateral will be issued which will benefit the print industry as whole, rather than specific titles. The competition comes in how the data is interpreted and utilised on a specific title level.”
The MOI (Memorandum of Incorporation) will set out the rules that guide the relationships, Reid added. At this point there are four print media owners on the board, with four each on the research and marketing committees plus representatives from marketers and advertisers.
Reid, who represents the PRC as a tender administrator for the Establishment Survey tender, said the tender has already been issued to run the Establishment Survey, expected to go into field next year. The preferred bidder will be announced on 18 August. “The intention is that the tender will be run by a pitch co-ordinator to ensure that the highest standards of governance and fairness are adhered to.”
The PRC’s head of research, Esmé Deken, said the JIC heralded a “New era in South African Media research, one that will allow us to provide our advertisers with new and better insights into how our media connect with their audiences.”
She said the PRC would engage with industry leaders to ensure that research meets the needs of a rapidly changing media environment.
The PRC said while the PDMSA and SAARF had “served our media well, and the PRC will continue to be active within these bodies”, the future was a multiple co-operative JIC which would deliver a “more focused, representative and nimble body, that will better serve our member publisher and advertiser research needs”.
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