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Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa 2015 year-end newsletter

Dear Colleagues,
For many media platforms, if not all, 2015 was without a doubt a challenging year in all respects. The depressed economy, continued increases in print production costs coupled to an ever more competitive media landscape, all took their toll on publisher profitability. That said, some titles continue to show solid growth, and while this may not have translated into advertising revenue, the growth was nevertheless reassuring of reader support and a positive future for print.

During the year it became clear that the growth in digital media was not the cause of the print circulation decline. In fact, many publishers, both local and international, refocused their efforts from migration from print to digital to rather having both. The complimentary aspects of both delivery mechanisms seem to offer a far more compelling proposition to competitive media platforms.

Your ABC also had quite an eventful year as can be seen in the summary of events below.
  • Q4 2014 circulation data was released at a business breakfast in Cape Town on 19 February 2015. The guest speaker was Andrew Fulton, a partner at Eighty20 Consulting, speaking on the topic, "Interesting ways to use South African Data".

  • Q2 2015 data was released at a business breakfast in Johannesburg on 13 August 2015. The guest speaker was Jennie Beck, Global Director of Media at TNS and Kantar Media, drawing considerable interest in the topic, "Putting Print in perspective - exploring the current and future position of print in a rapidly changing media environment".

  • Circulation data for quarters 1 and 3 2015 were released on the ABC website.

  • Changes in Directorate:

    • In January, Michael Rubenstein, representing MASA, was appointed to the Board.

    • In March, Howard Plaatjies , representing PDMSA, was appointed an Alternate Director.

    • In April, Gordon Utian resigned as President and Director, and Anton Botes, previously an Alternate Director was appointed a full director.

    • In June, Eureka Zandberg, representing PDMSA, was appointed an Alternate Director.

    • In July, Paul Wilkins, representing the AMF resigned.

    • At the August Board meeting, Gordon Patterson was elected President of the ABC, and Andre van Tonder Vice-President.

    • In October, Deborah Schepers, representing the AMF was appointed to the Board.

  • Audits:

    • During the year, the ABC completed 130 check audits of which only 7 were qualified.

    • The ABC completed 981 circulation audits during the year. In excess of 80% of circulation audits are done by the ABC, saving members both time and cost. The balance is undertaken by IRBA registered auditors.

  • During the year, grassroots certification was incorporated into our IT system, and into our main report. Previously the list of Grassroots members was reflected under the Grassroots tab on the ABC website.

  • Innovations within your ABC included:

    • Certification of Website Traffic, Digital Publications and E-mail Newsletters

      A committee was formed to develop the Reporting Standards for these forms of certification. The ABC is pleased to announce that with effect from I January, 2016, it will be offering certification of website traffic (including Apps), Digital Publications and E-mail Newsletters. Details and procedures are available on the ABC website.

      This represents a huge step forward, as it allows publishers to offer a snapshot of an entire publication's audience. In addition, digital publications previously excluded can be certified.

    • Certification of Exhibition and Conference Attendance

      The ABC is pleased to announce that it will be offering certification of Exhibition and Conference attendance with effect from 1 January 2016. Reporting Standards have been developed in conjunction with AAXO (Association of African Exhibition Organisers). Details and procedures are available on the ABC website.

      This represents a further step in the broadening of the ABC's offering.
It's been a busy 2015 but an important year. We've evolved, innovated and in a few areas we've tightened the rules to ensure that all users can continue to trust the ABC data.

Looking forward, 2016 will be equally challenging. The new Establishment Survey will replace AMPS after the final AMPS release in March 2016. This survey will carry the last general readership data in its current form. This is obviously sad, as it's the end of an era, but it marks an exciting opportunity for all interested parties to take print to the next level and to better understand the unique contribution that the written word makes in all respects. Also to explore the reader relationship and to celebrate the differences rather than the similarities that the written word has with competing platforms.

The closure of the PDMSA now opens the way to realise this future.

In closing - it's time to again believe in print and the power of the written word.

Gordon Patterson

14 Jan 2016 12:17