In Morocco, the French language daily L'Economiste
(circulation 32,000) has seen an outstanding growth in advertising
revenue since its launch in 1991. Last year, the newspaper's ad sales
increased by 15 percent, and similar figures are expected for 2005. The
main reason for the success seems to be very good relations with
advertisers as well as a good deal of transparency in audience research
and financial reports.
APN spoke to Belqacem Benabdelhamid, director of marketing and advertising at L'Economiste.
APN: How do you convince advertisers to spend more money on your newspaper? Benabdelhamid: We show them that in comparison with television and radio, a newspapers creates a stronger emotional link with its readers and therefore also transmits credibility: a serious newspaper will have serious advertising. Also, instead of a scattered audiovisual scene, we offer pages with a certain stability. Readers can return to a certain page several times, and there is no rush. Therefore the impact is bigger.
APN: What particular strategies do you implement to attract advertisers? Benabdelhamid: We make sure that advertisers get their investment in return. This can be achieved through being very attentive to them. We ask if the ad campaign has produced the expected results. If not, we offer free consultancy in order to improve the impact of the ads. This is also one of the main keys to our success. The newspaper plays an important role when it comes to the success of the advertisers. Another factor that plays a major role is that we provide advertisers with a particular audience. Our readers do for the most part have high incomes. Advertisers have several times phoned the paper to thank us for their increase in sales.
APN: Who are your main advertisers? Benabdelhamid: The most important ones are luxury brands like Cartier and big companies like the Spanish clothing brand Zara. They represent the biggest share of advertisers. Mobile telephones companies are an important group as well.
APN: What kind of figures do you provide your advertisers with? Benabdelhamid: We carry out an audience research study every two years to know who our readers are. Through doing that we make sure that we do not lose contact with our readers. We also run audits. We pass on the results to the advertisers in order to gain greater visibility. We think that this practice is a must for every publication.
APN: What should a newspaper do in order to attract advertisers? Benabdelhamid: The most important factor in order to attract advertisers is to produce a newspaper that is read. The content has to interest the readers, and the editorial line of the paper must correspond to their expectations. Furthermore, the newspaper has to focus on the targeted audience from an advertising point of view. The secret lies in a good relationship between all of these. We are not only selling ad space, but a partnership in order to develop the business of the advertiser.
APN: Which are the main challenges for Moroccan newspapers in terms of advertising? Benabdelhamid: The biggest challenge is the competition with television and outdoor advertising, in particular with the latter one. Outdoor advertising arrived recently to the Moroccan market. However, outdoor advertising does not have the same impact as advertising in newspapers. It does not target particular groups of the population and therefore does not guarantee the same results as newspapers. To succeed in the competition, newspapers must implement the strategies and ideas that I mentioned earlier. At L'Economiste we remain optimistic despite the competition. The communication market in Morocco is expected to multiply by three in the next ten years, and we continue to fight in order to keep our newspaper in a leading position.
L'Economiste is one of the two newspapers published by the Eco-Médias publishing company, along with the Arabic-speaking As Sabah. Its audience is the French speaking economic elites. It is mostly read by executives over 30 years old. However, the paper is seeking to increase readership among younger generations looking for useful information rather than economic. As a result, the newspaper has rejuvenated the editorial and management staff, which has lead to an increase in cultural and education content.
Circulation increased 2% last year, according to the newspaper. "What represents an obstacle to increase our readership, the French language, is an advantage in terms of advertising. Most of the advertisements in the paper are in French", says Nadia Salah, the editor in chief.
The general press in Morocco had 181 titles in 2004, twenty of them dailies. The most popular among Arabic-speaking newspapers are As Sabahand Al Ahdath al Magribia . Among the French-speaking, the most read dailies are Le Matin with 45,000 copies, L'Economiste, and Aujhourd'huile Maroc, an independent daily established in 2001, with 20,000 copies.