Industry leaders at Newspaper Advertising Conference in Malta
Advertising and media industry leaders are meeting in Malta at the 21st World Newspaper Advertising Conference, organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
The two day conference, which began this morning and which is sponsored by timesofmalta.com, among others, has attracted about 200 delegates. It was opened by Finance Minister Tonio Fenech who said that advertising was “all about creativity”.
Mr Fenech said that creativity was important for a country’s economy and the government would do all it could to encourage creativity in Malta.
The conference seeks to help advertising professionals how they can maximize their share of a smaller market, provide ideas for new revenues and formulate strategies for increasing existing revenues and yields.
The key topics being discussed include Market insight – The essential ingredient for ad sales in 2011; Print advertising – The key to our future in a digital obssesed world; Cross-media strategies – Great ideas for added value campaigns; The new game – Tablet advertising; and The future face of advertising – Ideas and strategies for the near term.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, or WAN-IFRA, is the global organisation of the world’s press, representing more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
The mission of the new organisation is simple: “To be the indispensable partner of newspapers and the entire news publishing industry worldwide, particularly our members, in the defence and promotion of press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses and technology.”
Among this morning’s speakers was Adrian Hillman, executive director of Allied Newspapers Ltd, who spoke on the theme: “Despite gains in digital revenues, why is print still relevant?”
Mr Hillman told the delegates that The Times of Malta is unique because it performs the roles of a regional and national newspaper.
“Six years ago The Times of Malta decided to evaluate every element of its production process. We looked at our printing. We looked at our capacity to design and produce magazines. We looked at our capacity to distribute third party magazines. We looked at our online presence.
“Our decision was that we would have to excel at every one of these points to continue growing. We recognised a shift in consumer demands and expectations as well as a continuous need for change developing new products whilst assessing existing ones,” he said.
Mr Hillman said printing was to be housed under one entity, Progress Press, with the brief to restructure, create new products and return profitability.
“We created a separate company (Media Maker) which would design and sell magazines for The Times as well as third parties. We took what would seem as a counter intuitive decision to distribute third party magazines in The Times of Malta, which would compete with our own magazines.
“Our presence online would not be a token presence but one which would allow us to learn new skills and develop a multi-media platform. The aim was to have the capacity to launch our breaking new services on any device. Our development team needed to be flexible.”
Mr Hillman said Progress Press grew its turnover six fold in six years retaining its profitability and it invested €30 million in a plant and machinery. The company, he said, identified a strong and growing export market for its sheet-fed printing line selling to Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America.
“Malta is under provided with volume printing, runs of over 100,000. The new press included an eight tower web machine with UV capacity which could double up for newspaper and semi commercial work with a range of stitching and finishing capacity. Here we are able to compete and new business is growing in this area. Again, price and quality have helped our growth. Progress Press has already made inroads in semi commercial printing in the Italian market,” he said.
“In 2004, we did not create our own magazines yet we distributed third party magazines and inserts. Media Maker today turned this around and is the largest distributor of newspaper magazines in the country. The company is profitable and offers an option to our advertisers who want a different medium for their product yet want to target Malta AB, C1 audiences, an area The Times of Malta has been extremely strong in.
While taking this decision, he said, the company decided to retain third party magazines, with income earned at the distribution and printing stage.
“These magazines have grown, notwithstanding the recent economic downturn. It is clear to us that the demand for quality magazines is still strong. By distributing these third party products we offered better value to our readers at no extra cost,” he said.
Mr Hillman said timesofmalta.com started life as an electronic copy of The Times of Malta newspaper with around 800 unique visitors per day. Four key areas, he said, helped define growth.
“Accessibility, we wanted to own the technology, disseminate content on all platforms and the agility to do so. Social media integration. Our audience must have the capacity to comment and dialogue. Content visibility and finally we want to build the brand. These elements are our guiding principles today.”
Mr Hillman said timesofmalta.com has grown 39 per cent per annum in unique visitors, 38 per cent per annum in the number of visits and 30 per cent per annum in page views.
He said timesofmalta.com has over 26 million page views per month, almost one million per day, 400,000 unique visitors per month and 80,000 visitors per day.
“timesofmalta.com has established itself as the source of credible breaking news in the country. However, it is also the site of choice when events in Malta are relevant to an international audience. The proximity of the unfortunate events in Libya resulted in a surge of traffic on our website. On February 21, the site registered 1.5 million page views and 7.5 million hits,” he said.
“The credibility of the brand is such that advertisers will latch onto it across these platforms. However, we find that the demand for print is still growing simply because we have a spectrum of products to offer our clients. In this way our printing arm is becoming a service where the quality is determined by the price the client is ready to pay.
“Both elements, the technological developments we are implementing and the spectrum of print products, are underpinning the new concept of how to sustain the traditional newspaper.
Build on the strength you have. In the case of The Times of Malta it is the distribution system, the printing system and the design offerings, but primarily it is our credibility,” Mr Hillman said.