Newsletter No 23 28 March 2006
 
Readership & Circulation:
Young Jordan Daily Relies on Subscribers

Al Ghad newspaper is the first independent and private daily in Jordan. It was launched in August 2004. Eighteen months later, according to Ipsos Stat Jordan, it is one of the country's leading newspapers, with a circulation of more than 55,000. Almost 70 per cent of its readers are subscribers; an unusual figure for papers in the region.

“We chose to employ a unique approach to penetrate the market, so instead of having readers buy Al Ghad off newsstands, they can now find it on their doorstep every morning before any other newspaper,” says Ala’a Qassim, General Manager of the newspaper.

But how did a new daily manage to obtain such a share of subscriptions in a country where newsstands are the preferred method to buy newspapers? Attracting potential subscribers with appealing offers and catering for subscribers' needs are two of the keys.

The first step was creating expectation for the newspaper. Al Ghad launched a full-scale multi media teaser campaign before it hit newsstands, and offered complimentary one-month subscriptions across the kingdom to introduce the newspaper to readers.

Al Ghad took advantage of another publication of the group, Al Waseet, to reach the biggest number of households in Amman. Al Waseet is a free advertising weekly-distributed door to door in within the capital. Al Ghad used its database to reach potential subscribers.

After the first month, the daily started a telemarketing campaign offering annual subscriptions for JOD 30 (USD 42). “In the first three months we registered 6,000 subscribers and after a year we had achieved 21,000, something surprising in a country were the rest of the dailies' subscribers combined together barely make up 8,000” says Qassim.

The price was a main reason for that success. It represents almost a 60% reduction compared to a daily purchase during a year. Other newspapers charge JOD 75. “If the reader is paying in advance we have to add value to his/her investment,” he says.

The telemarketing campaign was reinforced by a prize drawing of a luxury car every month for three months. The paper decided to offer three luxury prizes rather than a big quantity of small tokens.

“We wanted something valuable for our subscriber because we were targeting a concrete niche audience: business men, decision makers and youth with high income. They are easier to convince in order to subscribe than other audiences,” Qassim says.

But, to keep attracting mass audience to the newspaper, Al Ghad bought air space in a local TV station and broadcasted a quiz show directly related to the content of the newspaper for ten months. ‘Ainak Ala Al Ghad’ (keep your eye on Al Ghad) offered prizes to those who answered correctly to questions about the newspaper content.

To retain subscribers, Al Ghad relied on a fundamental strategy: building up their loyalty. For its first anniversary, the paper offered them a book by one of its more popular columnists and a travel life insurance. Moreover, on mother’s day they sent every subscriber a pack of candies with a card dedicated to mothers.

But much more important have been listening to what subscribers have to say. “Each subscriber receives a follow up phone call approximately every three months in order to know their comments on the newspaper,” says Qassim.

As a result of this follow up the newspaper has introduced some changes in the layout and in content, like adding more local social and cultural stories.

Nowadays, Al Ghad has over 35,000 subscribers and the number keeps increasing by about 1,500 each month, Qassim says. Copy sales and renting its printing facilities for commercial catalogues and newsletters represents 40% of the paper’s total revenue.

Advertising represents the other 60% and it is increasing, says Qassim. “You have to advertise in Al Ghad because of subscriptions. This is a confirmed clientele base everyday.”

However, it is not only about having readers, but also about knowing who reads you. “We have the complete demographics of our readers,” says Qassim. “We obtain them through the feedback collected by the call center, our sophisticated database and through a third party, Ipsos-Stat, a survey-based market research company.”

“Advertisers look for categories and we know those categories exist,” says Qassim. “For instance, two automobile companies, Kia and Hyundai, are looking for a target audience aged between 25 and 30, employed and with high income. Thanks to their research we know that we reach them and therefore can offer advertisers what they want. Other papers cannot provide this king of detailed information.”

Facts about the newspaper
Al Ghad is a 60-page broadsheet. It has 40 full-color pages. It is printed in a high quality 52 grams web white paper with brightness of 8%. “The quality of the paper and the layout is one of the main reasons of our success for both the reader and advertiser,” says Qassim.

The daily has its own building with printing facilities and created its own distribution network.

Although the biggest share of subscribers is in Amman, the paper reaches all the major cities in the Kingdom. Subscribers in Amman find their copy at 05:00 am while it is delivered to the rest of the country two hours later. The paper is sold in newsstands at JOD 0.20.

It has a staff of 285 of which about a hundred in the editorial. The average age of the employees is under 26.

Owned by four Jordanian shareholders, Al Ghad is about to break even, says Qassim. “This is an outstanding result for a newspaper that has been in the market for a year and a half.”