09 February 2007
Readership & Circulation:
First newspaper audit carried out in Oman

Saleh.jpgThe free English-language weekly TheWeek in Oman has become the first paper in the country to provide audited circulation data to its advertisers. The aim of the audit is to create more transparency in a market which traditionally does not reveal information about circulation figures. BPA Worldwide, a non-profit organization based in the United States carried out the audit for the newspaper. According to BPA, their audits provide advertisers with assurance that the newspaper they choose to invest in, does in fact reach target audiences for specific ads.

APN spoke to Saleh Zakwani, publisher and CEO of Apex Press and Publishing, which publishes TheWeek, about why the paper decided to carry out an audit and its overall aims.

APN: Why did you decide to carry out the audit?
Saleh Zakwani: Apex has always been transparent, and we believe that in the current media scene it has become a necessity. With the number of publications is increasing, it has become more important for advertisers to know that they are getting the maximum return on their advertising money spend. We as publishers owe it to our clients to provide them with an independent media audit in support of our circulation claims. While Apex is proud to be the first in the country in carrying out an external audit for TheWeek, more importantly we hope that our actions will encourage other publishing houses to do the same in the interest of better business.

APN: What kind of input was required of the newspaper to carry out the audit?
Saleh Zakwani: A lot of data was required for this audit to be completed, including bulk distribution, delivery notes from the press, worksheets from Apex, printers invoices with payments from us, Apex’s salary payments for our full and part time distribution team, and signed agreements with our media outlets (which count more than 500).

APN: What have been the concrete results of the audit this far?
Saleh Zakwani: There has been widespread recognition from the agencies and customers, which translates into stronger confidence for the advertisers to place their advertising budget with us.

APN: What do you expect to be the long term results of the audit?
Saleh Zakwani: We hope that our advertising will grow and that there is an increase in confidence amongst our advertisers as the BPA audit supports our circulation claims. This we hope will encourage our clients to spend more of their advertising budget in TheWeek.

APN: Why do so few Arab newspapers carry out audits?
Saleh Zakwani: The concept of auditing is relatively new in this part of the world, with the natural resistance to change and the fear of the outcome. With the increasing demands of advertisers to see support of publisher’s claims, we expect changes to occur shortly within the GCC market.

Apex’s other English publications, Oman Today and BusinessToday, will also be audited in the future. Apex has also applied for audit for its Arabic weekly paper Al Isbou’a.

Copies of the initial BPA Worldwide audit report for TheWeek will be available from BPA Worldwide or the publisher. TheWeek will be issuing semi-annual circulation statements in the standard BPA Worldwide format.

To visit the website of Apex Press and Publishing, click here

To visit the website of BPA Worldwide, click here