Newsletter No 28 03 May 2006
Advertising & Marketing:
Go Tabloid and Increase Your Advertising Revenues by Setting Higher Prices

The Arab-language Lebanese daily Al Balad changed to tabloid format in January 2006 and has registered a 40 per cent increase in advertising revenues compared to the same period the year before. It is the result of higher prices and assuring advertisers the impact of their campaigns.

“Before going tabloid we studied the cases of some European newspapers to avoid repeating the same problems they faced when changing format,” says Deputy General Manager Maroun Yazbeck.

An advertisement is ‘bigger’ in the tabloid than in the broadsheet, even if they are the same physical size, since it has bigger impact in the tabloid, explains Yazbeck. While in the broadsheet readers have to “scroll” up and down to see the entire page, in the tabloid they see every ad at a glance. Therefore, newspapers changing format should charge more for advertising, he says. And that is what Al Balad does.

The newspaper decided to increase prices in the first three pages since the most relevant content is included there. “The reader looks at them as he used to look at the broadsheet’s front-page,” says Yazbeck. Other pages’ prices were, on the contrary, reduced.

The paper also standardized contracts. “There was no need for any special prices in order to boost the advertising expenditure in the newspaper,” says Yazbeck. But Al Balad applies what Yazbeck calls a ‘volume rebate’ system to encourage advertisers to spend more in the newspaper. If a client significantly increases his expenditure, he will get a small discount.

When it comes to ads size, Al Balad set a modular system so that advertisers can choose between already fixed sizes. The newspaper established a creative team to help clients adapting to it.

“If we receive an ad that does not fit the new measurements criteria, we call the advertiser to propose changes to be made,” says Yazbeck.

To prepare advertisers for the new model, Al Balad brought international experts to conduct seminars with advertising agencies and major clients a month before going tabloid.

Al Balad also monitors the impact of their campaigns through a call center of 20 people. “We regularly ask readers about the ads they remember the most or if they decided to buy something after seeing a concrete ad in the newspaper,” says Yazbeck.

Al Balad also sets specific telephone numbers for companies so that they can check how many clients they get from their advertising campaigns in the newspaper.

“We have to show that we care by offering our clients assistance and support,” says Yazbeck.

Facts about Al Balad
The 40-page full-color tabloid is part of the Al Wataniya group. It began publishing in 2003 and is the newest daily in the country.

Despite its short existence, it is today the most popular newspaper in Lebanon with a circulation of 51,000, according to Ipsos-Stat.

Sold at 2,000 Lebanese pounds (USD 1.30) in newsstands, over 48,000 copies are daily distributed to subscribers as a result of annual subscription campaigns.

“When Al Balad was launched, we did not aim to compete for existing readership. Newspapers in Lebanon have a very loyal readership. What we wanted was to open a new market, that of the people who do not read newspapers. We bet on readers,” says Yazbeck.