Uneconomical circulation and strengthening the core of high-yield readers for advertisers is behind a decision to limit distribution of Times Media Group’s The Times newspaper. Other titles could soon follow, says TMG’s general manager of sales and marketing, Trevor Ormerod. Glenda Nevill reports.
“We are primarily looking at The Times. We are considering other titles, however the effect will be minimal,” he told The Media Online.
Asked how many copies The Times will drop, Ormerod said this would be assessed on an ongoing basis “… but we see The Times being sustainable with sales of around 100 000 copies (it is currently around 140 000),” he said, adding that “Sales will be focused towards central, urban areas, where our readership core lies, and where the greatest response to advertising can be realised”.
Earlier Ormerod said TMG knew “advertisers want circulation (quantity) plus traction (quality). We understand where traction is greatest, and it therefore makes sense to reduce unprofitable distribution channels”.
Circulation manager Jason Sequeira said the strategy would affect ABC circulation figures “primarily due to the focus on reducing low yielding routes to market”. The process began 12 months ago, but “accelerated in the last quarter. He said TMG would maintain circulation levels as close as possible to where they are currently.
Latest ABC figures for Q2 2015, released on Thursday, showed The Times having 130 607 total circulation from 140 647 in Q1. The same quarter in 2014 was set at 144 440 copies.
Ormerod said The Times – which he described as a “metro, quick-read with to-the-point news”– would continue to be delivered free to “cream of the crop” Sunday Times readers and would be sold at retailers “wherever there is demand”, which is highest in “the central, urban areas”.
Asked to define these readers, Ormerod said the Sunday Times was “fortunate to have a core of loyal subscribers in urban areas prized by advertisers. The reader we attract has an average monthly household income that is more than double the national average, with 62% of our readers falling into LSM 8-10.
“But above and beyond their spending power, we have an audience that is engaged and attentive, and who find The Times inspiring. Also, the average age of other newspaper readers is rising, yet The Times is bucking the trend to attract younger readers who are highly responsive to advertising. All these elements pooled together create the sweet spot for advertisers…and define the “cream of the crop.”
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