By Tim Addington & Tim Burrowes
Motivate’s BPA audited title sells more copies than ITP Consumer’s monthly ABC audited magazine.
What’s On magazine has a narrow copy sales and circulation lead over its bitter rival Time Out Dubai, new figures suggest. Motivate Publishing’s What’s On has been given an audited circulation of 28,347. The figure puts the 26-year-old title ahead of ITP Consumer’s Time Out Dubai, which has a total audited circulation of 27,074.
And the figures reveal that when free copies are taken out of the equation, What’s On also does better in copy sales. It has a paid for figure of 25,918, of which 18,376 are subscription and 7542 are single copy sales. Time Out Dubai’s audited paid for copies total just 4822.
However, when Time Out’s Abu Dhabi edition is added on to that of its Dubai stablemate, its group circulation overtakes What’s On with a total figure of 43,123.
It is also unclear how many of What’s On’s sales and subscriptions were at full price. Publishers often complete bulk deals where they sell large quantities of a magazine to airlines or hotels for a token amount in order to claim copy sales. What’s On’s audit has been carried out by auditor BPA, while Time Out uses auditor ABC.
“This audit is an important step not only for What’s On but for publishing in this region as a whole,” said Ian Fairservice, managing partner at Motivate Publishing and group editor at What’s On.
“Advertisers need to be sure that publishers’ claims are based on fact and we are happy that we now have officially audited figures to support our claims of market leadership. I encourage other publishers in the region to demonstrate the same level of transparency,” he added.
In a further challenge to ITP Consumer, Fairservice has pledged to have all of Motivate’s consumer titles audited. He also attacked ITP Consumer’s Ahlan title for using the tagline ‘The UAE’s biggest selling magazine’. Ahlan, a celebrity news and gossip magazine, is not currently audited but claims to have a distribution of 30,000.
“Our Middle East edition of Hello!, for example, is selling incredibly well. We believe it is already far outselling all other independent weeklies,” Fairservice said. “Emirates Woman and Hello! will be [audited] next.”
ITP Consumer would not be drawn on whether it would follow Motivate’s lead and audit all its titles. Marketing director Alex Reeve issued a statement saying: “We are delighted that What’s On’s audit has demonstrated Time Out’s audited circulation to be over 50% higher than that of What’s On.”
The Middle East consumer magazine market has become notorious for publishers making outlandish claims about their unaudited circulations. The move by Motivate has already been welcomed by media agencies demanding greater transparency.
“It’s deeply reassuring to see another publisher heed the call for a circulation audit,” said Sridhar Alladi, director of strategic planning at OMD Middle East.
“We certainly hope it will entice others to follow, thereby bringing credibility to a medium that has witnessed an exponential growth in the number of titles over the past few years,” he added.Motivate intends to capitalise on its What’s On figures by auditing a number of its business titles.
“Business Traveller Middle East has already been enrolled with ABC; Gulf Business is ‘BPA membership applied’ and will be audited in the coming months,” Fairservice said.