Sunday tabloid publishers that have added almost 2m extra copy sales following the News of the World’s demise may have to wait until October before media agencies agree to reallocate the lion’s share of the £38m advertisers spent yearly with the title.
The Sunday Mirror, People, Mail on Sunday, Daily Star Sunday and Sunday Express all launched aggressive price-cutting, promotional and marketing campaigns as well as boosting their distribution in a bid to win over News of the World readers after the News International title was closed on 10 July in an attempt to limit the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal. NoW had an average sale of 2.67m copies a week in June, its last full month of publication.
Rival publishers have been buoyed by the early results with the most recent official sales figures, showing as many as 2m of NoW’s former customers opted for a rival title in the first three weeks since the closure, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations data for July.
With the first audited figures under their belt – as well as unofficial internal sales figures for the first three weeks of August – publishers are aiming to convince media buying agencies that the increased circulation of their tabloids means that more advertising spend should be coming their way.
News of the World used to attract about £38m in ad revenue annually, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research.
‘We will take the ABCs to the market,’ said Sly Bailey, chief executive of Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI). ‘We are pleased. We got the strategy right with the right combination of things in the right parts of the market.’
However, a number of analysts and media research experts have estimated that a lot of that money may have come out of national newspapers for good.
In addition they claim that to make a convincing case publishers will need to come to the negotiating table with more than one audited ABC (NYSE: DIS) certificate.
‘The July ABC is based on three weeks post NoW [which] isn’t a long enough period to make a call on upping client budgets,’ said one senior executive at a media buying agency.
Media buying agency executives say publishers need to gather perhaps three months of ABC figures – for July, August and September. The ABC figures for September are scheduled to be released on 14 October.
‘We would want to see constant sets of official figures, not just internal numbers, say three monthly periods,’ said the senior media buying executive. ‘One is not enough by itself. Who says advertisers need more money in any tabloid just because NoW has gone. If there is confidence in the numbers and they maintain a consistency we will see.’
The big winners looking for an ad sales uplift are the Sunday Mirror, which put on 700,000 sales in July, and Richard Desmond’s Daily Star Sunday, which added almost 400,000 copies. The People, which was up by 332,000 copies in July, the Sunday Express, by 110,000 and the Mail on Sunday by 327,000 copies.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.