POSTSCRIPT / December 23, 2007 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Sharing happy news: The STAR tops in ads!

STAR ON TOP: It was so hilarious. A newspaper that fancies itself as lord of the broadsheet market went berserk days ago when The Philippine STAR published the simple fact that the Nielsen Media Research Advertising Information has reported that The STAR was actually on top.

The last Nielsen report (October 2007), a bible to us in the industry, said that The STAR had cornered 46 percent of print advertising billings for the month — compared to the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s 37 percent and the Manila Bulletin’s 17 percent.

Actually we don’t have to quarrel over it. Relax lang po. The advertising pie is big enough for all those who have been working for their just slice.

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THICKER, MEATIER: Readers need not even read the Nielsen report to see the truth. They can leaf through the three leading newspapers and see how The STAR has been bursting with ads, many of them big color displays.

Most days of the week, one will notice that The STAR is much thicker than the other paper. That must be worrisome for people who think they have a torrens title to the top of the hill.

Since the controlling interests of the other broadsheet partly own the paper mill where The STAR buys some of its newsprint, they know our huge paper consumption. We cannot, and need not, misrepresent our paper requirements from them.

They actually know how big The STAR group has become. That is why they are worried.

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VALUE FOR MONEY: Most nights, I pass by the office at the Port Area and get my advance copies of the major papers.

First thing I do is find out what time we started and completed printing. However great is your paper, if you do not come out early enough or on time, you will literally “miss the bus.”

Then I scan the advertising content. By noting the proportion of the ads to the editorial (non-ad) content, we know offhand if that issue made money.

Then I count the number of pages of the top two papers. (Sometimes the guard had counted it for me and written the count on the cover.) Most days, I am happy to report, The STAR has more pages than the competition.

It is obvious, and many people tell us, the reader gets more value for his money.

* * *

NO PESO WASTED: Back to the advertising, of which Nielsen says The STAR has more.

We are not gloating over our impressive ad content. We are just being happy, and want to share the happy news, about this show of confidence of our friends in the advertising community.

These are smart people. They do not throw their clients’ advertising money carelessly. They see to it every advertising peso is well placed. That is why, I assume, they keep looking to us when they have to connect to a segment of the market.

Btw, in our Christmas party last Wednesday STAR President Miguel Belmonte told the cheering crowd that while all the figures were not yet in, it was clear that 2007 will be another banner year for the STAR family!

The work force is grateful to the Lord for His blessings. One thing I noticed with The STAR family is its closeness to the Lord — probably a legacy of the late Betty Go Belmonte, the founding chairman.

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COST-EFFECTIVE: The implication of the Nielsen report is clear and simple: More and more advertisers are finding The STAR the most cost-effective medium for reaching their target markets.

A newspaper cannot, or should not, be a newspaper for everybody. You aim for everybody and you lose most of them. And lose your shirt.

The wise thing to do, especially to make every peso count, is aim for a defined target readership. It does not make business sense just shooting at the big wall, which you will hit anyway even if you are a bad shot. Instead, you aim for that bull’s eye, the target reader.

Advertisers study a newspaper’s readership profile, aside from checking the circulation numbers. The paper, and the ads that it carries, must reach the market that the ad, so carefully designed and produced, intends to penetrate.

Obviously, advertisers believe after careful study and experience that The STAR carries more effectively their message to the desired market. That is the only explanation for our paper’s continuing to brim with such big and numerous ads.

* * *

TRUTH PREVAILS: Still, the basis of a newspaper’s independence and influence (or that of a radio-TV network, for that matter) is business viability.

All that noise about press freedom, blah-blah, is meaningless if there is no media to speak of in the first place. We must first have the press there before we can have press freedom.

To a media manager, therefore, the first order of business is viability. Within certain principles and parameters, the manager will strive to make the enterprise profitable, initially for its owners and the workers.

This brief discussion, btw, focuses on advertising as it affects viability. I can take up readership some other time when the need arises.

Our viability – thanks to our advertisers and readers — makes it possible for The STAR to continue being the purveyor of truth that will eventually set us free.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 23, 2007)

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