ABC Forum 2013

Relevance - Circulation VS Readership

from ABC / 7 Jun, 2013




Paul Dovas
Chief Executive Officer
Audited Media Association of Australia

Paul Dovas, CEO, Audited Media Association of Australia, Mr Paul Dovas had shared his views and insights on the perennial issue of media industry in Malaysia, circulation vs readership in an email interview. Paul is also an Executive Board member of International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations(IFABC) and President, Asia-Pacific Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Paul Dovas will be the keynote speaker at the ABC Forum : “Relevance” to be held on July 5, 2013 at Dewan Berjaya, Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort, Kuala Lumpur. His presentation topic : Circulation is Key Buying Index.

Q1. What is the difference between circulation and readership?
Both are key metrics that complement each other when assessing the performance of print media.

Circulation is a census (count) based metric that measures inventory ie ad units. Print is still purchased in ad units. An audited circulation metric guarantees for the media buyer that the units purchased exist and depending on how granular the reporting of circulation is, that copies are reaching their intended channels.

Readership is sample based research that measures the readers of a publication. It is the print media's gauge for audience also providing insights into the demographic profile of the readers. In its purest form, readership is based on an estimate of the number of readers per copy circulated . In its purest form, readership cannot exist without circulation.

You cannot have an audience if copies are not circulated.

Q2. Which is a more accurate measurement and why?
Circulation is census based, ie a count of copies circulated. Audited circulation is backed by a verification of the count.

While readership can provide more granular data, it is sample based and therefore an estimate of the total audience.

Sampling is not as accurate as counting. The trade-off is less accuracy for more detail.

Q3. As a Board member of IFABC, perhaps you could provide some details on trends for the measurement of circulation and readership?
'Hybrid' is the hot topic at the moment. Driven by the advent of hybrid web measurement, many IFABC members are now in industry-wide discussions to replicate a counting/sampling approach to measurement in other media including print.

The challenge for us all is that publishing models are evolving and fragmenting, therefore identifying readership (or audience) across the many touch points of a masthead becomes very difficult and costly.

At the core of all these touch points however is inventory and we should not lose sight of the importance of ensuring that the inventory exists through audit.

To remain relevant however, circulation metrics must also evolve to cover these touch points, otherwise we will be supplying a print metric that will continue to fall, making it irrelevant to our publisher members in particular.

Q4. Is the current scope of measurement for circulation adequate?
Should the scope be widen to be more relevant for media professionals? As publishing models come under increasing pressure to evolve, resulting in fragmentation, audited circulation becomes a key mechanism for cutting through clutter and making sense of the new paradigms.

IFABC members need to remind media professionals that if the inventory does not exist, then there will be no audience regardless of how effective or creative their strategy is.

Having said that, traditional silos such as 'print' and 'online' also need redefining. A masthead's content can be read, heard or viewed. 'Print' and 'online' are merely distribution channels for text, images, video and audio.

'Circulation' needs to shed its 'print' tag and evolve to encompass other types of inventory.


Tim Burrowes
Mumbrella, Australia

Tim Burrowes is the founding editor of Mumbrella which launched in December 2008. In November 2011 Mumbrella was named website of the year at the Publishers Australia Awards. It won again in November 2012.

He is also editor-in-chief of Mumbrella’s sister magazine Encore and editorial director of parent company Focal Attractions.

Focal Attractions also runs industry intelligence tool The Source (previously known as AdBrief); Mumbrella360, which was named Conference of the Year at the Australian Event Awards; CommsCon, the event and awards for PR and communications professionals; the Festival of Branded Entertainment; Mumbrella Digital School; and Mumbrella Social Media Academy. The company also publishes books including the Mumbrella Creative Agency Review and the Mumbrella Media Agency Review.

Prior to Mumbrella, Tim was group editor of Reed Business Information’s Media Group, including editor of B&T. Other titles in the group included Digital Media, Broadcast Engineering News and Professional Marketing.

Before coming to Australia, Tim was the launch editor of the Middle East edition of Campaign magazine, which covers advertising and marketing stories throughout the region.

And in his previous role to that, he was editor of Media Week in the UK. He was twice named the British Society of Magazine Editors’ business editor of the year.

There was also a time when he worked on newspapers. But that was back before computers.
Margaret Au-Yong
Head of Marketing and Facilities
Tune Group

Margaret Au-Yong had more than 30 years of experience in the Media and Marketing Communication Industry. Started in the business in Sin Chew Jit Poh, Union 45 (now Publicis), Saatchi and Saatchi and Wizard Worldwide Media.

She set up CIA Medianetwork in Malaysia and headed the merged entity of MediaEdge:CIA (MEC in short) as one of the top four media specialist agencies in Malaysia. MEC key multinational and local clients includes Colgate, CitiBank, AirAsia, Hakuhodo, Sony, Astro, DHL, Tesco, Estee Lauder Group, to name a few. She retired from the Media and Marketing Industry in 2006 and decided to take on a new chapter in her career as Head of Media and Property in Tune Group, an investment company involving in no frill hotels, prepaid cards, insurance, telco, sports, retail, education and entertainment industries.

She is currently a Board member of MAA Council, served on the ABC Board as ABC Audit Chairman, the organising Chairperson of the Malaysia Effie Awards 2010/2011, and she was also honoured to sit in the Communication and Multi Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF) and served on the MSA Council where she was invited in the Jury Panel for the MSA Malaysia Media Awards 2008.

Margaret is a Board member of Audit Bureau of Circulations, Malaysia and heads the Audit Committee.

Ranganathan Somanathan
Chief Operating Officer, South East Asia
Starcom MediaVest Group

In January 2013, Ranganathan Somanathan was promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) for South East Asia, to spearhead the next phase of growth and development for the region.

As part of the newly-created role, Ranganathan will focus on SMG’s agency brands, operations and divisions which include Starcom, MediaVest, Spark Communications and LiquidThread, across six key SEA markets including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Prior, Ranganathan had led VivaKi Malaysia, which includes SMG and Optimedia Malaysia, as CEO – a position he has held since July 2009. During time, he spearheaded the transformation of the Malaysian offices, fostering a digital culture among the local teams, adapting SMG’s global vision and human experience strategy locally while boosting staff’s capabilities in driving media and screen-neutral planning for clients, leading to a period of sustained advancement for SMG in Malaysia.

Having devoted over a decade of service to SMG, Ranganathan has held various positions including Vice President of Insights & Analytics for the Asia-Pacific region. Before, Ranganathan was Managing Director of SMG’s Indonesian operations which grew by 40 per cent under his leadership. He had also headed the Research & Strategic Planning function at SMG Malaysia earlier in his career.

Throughout his career in the industry, Ranganathan has worked with some of the world’s most renowned and biggest advertisers including P&G, DiGi, Microsoft and Mead Johnson among others. He is also a firm believer of contributing back to the industry and has been serving as President of the Media Specialist Association in Malaysia since 2010.


Karthi Palanisamy
Managing Director
Crush Malaysia

Karthi Palanisamy has been involved in advertising for the past 2 decades. He started his career as a Media Sales executive in an outdoor agency before joining a local creative agency as junior suit. He spent over 12 years at a local agency rising up to the position of general manager.

Karthi joined his current communications group some 10 years ago and is now the Managing Director of CRUSH Malaysia & Vice President of its holdings company TNBT Pte Ltd based in Singapore.

Karthi is currently a Council Member of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents, popularly known as 4As. He oversees the Membership Accreditation Programme of the 4A’s. He is also the Vice Chairman of Audit Bureau of Circulation, Malaysia.

Karthi Palanisamy is also a Past President of the Rotary Club of Central Damansara.




Peter Anthony Das
Former Chairman
Audit Bureau of Circulations Malaysia

Peter Anthony Das has been a popular branding and marketing face for Malaysian automotive industry, first with Perodua and later on with Proton. Having spent over 20 years with the 2 national car makers, he had a short stint as a consultant with People n’ Rich before joining Berjaya Group as Senior General Manager, Integrated Marketing for about 2 years.

Peter had served as Chairman, Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), Malaysia, President of Malaysian Advertisers Association as well as the Asian Federation of Advertising Association and Council Member of World Federation of Advertisers.




Tan Sri Datuk Vincent Lee
Executive Deputy Chairman
The Star Media Group

Tan Sri Lee, widely regarded as one of Malaysia’s best brand builders, is the brain behind the success of many high profile and notable brands in the market. He is the founder of Naga DDB the largest advertising and communications agency in Malaysia, under the umbrella of Foetus International. A one-stop center for advertising, marketing communications, customer relationship management (CRM), public relations and event management, the Group provides extensive and expert services to its clients. The subsidiaries of Foetus International work together synergistically to produce seamless and effective results for their clients. Collectively, the group has a human resource capital of over 500 employees. Currently, Tan Sri Lee is the Executive Deputy Chairman of The Star Media Group. He also sits on the boards of MNC Wireless Bhd and SHH Resources Holdings Bhd.

On June 1, 2013, Tan Sri Lee received one of the highest honours awarded in conjunction with the birthday of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah. He was conferred the Panglima Setia Mahkota (P.S.M.) which carries the title “Tan Sri”.

A prominent figure who is highly respected for his many contributions, Tan Sri Lee also sits on the board of numerous integrated advertising related companies, associations and organizations. He was the President of the Association of Advertising Agents Malaysia (“4As”) from April 2005 to March 2011. He was also the Chairman of Audit Bureau of Circulations (“ABC”) and was a member of the National Branding Task Force of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE). Tan Sri Lee is now the Honorary Life President of 4As.

One of Tan Sri Lee’s many achievements as President of the 4A’s since 2005 are, the successful launching of Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands (MMVB), a brand valuation and benchmarking of high performing brands; and Putra Brand Awards, to recognize brand-building as an integral business investment. Both award shows are recognized and trusted by industry professionals, the public and also by the Malaysian government. Thanks to Tan Sri Lee’s foresight, it has undeniably accelerated the growth of emerging brands and raised the profile of Malaysian brands globally.


MV Swaminathan
Magazine Publishers Association

Swaminathan is the Chief Operating Officer of MPH Group Magazine (M) Sdn Bhd. The company publishes magazines like Quill, Management ,Homedec ,Eumcci Review,People’s Edge, and SeniHias. He has had some 30 years experience in the publishing and media industry, mainly with the New Straits Times Press and Berita Publishing.


Anthony YL Wong
Managing Director
New Sabah Times

Anthony Wong is the Managing Director of the New Sabah Times since 1997. He is a Board Member for Malaysia National News Agency (BERNAMA) and Audit Bureau of Circulations Malaysia (ABC). He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 2011.


Margaret Lim
Executive Chairman
Aegis Media Malaysia

An icon in the Malaysian media industry, with almost 40 years experience in the business. Margaret started the first media specialist company in Malaysia and in the region. She went on to establish Malaysian Media Specialist Association (MSA) and was honoured as its founding President.

Margaret is active in the industry associations and had headed the majority of them. Reputed as a thought leader, she is a speaker in many industry functions.

She was conferred the first lifetime achievement award by the Malaysian Media Congress and was recently made the Woman Super Achiever Award at the 2nd CMO Asia Awards in 2011.


Law Chan Keong
Managing Director
MEC Malaysia

CK has been leading MEC Malaysia since 2009, during which the agency has grown its staff strength from 22 to 35 talents currently. He has a depth of media communication expertise and knowledge, honed from 18 years of working experience in the industry.

Chan Sheow-Vern
Communication Channel Manager for Malaysia & Singapore,
Unilever (Malaysia) Holdings Sdn Bhd

Chan Sheow Vern was an account executive in Spider advertising agency and subsequently a brand communication manager at McCann-Erickson Malaysia, all within three years.

Vern then joined Unilever Malaysia in 2003 as Brand Manager of Wall’s Cornetto. She played an integral role managing the entire impulse sector of the ice cream business for three years, with Wall’s Moo being the final launch, after the launch of Cornetto Royale, Paddle Pop Shots and Twister, Magnum etc.

Thereafter, Vern moved into her new role as Communication Channel Manager, to drive strategic direction on communication channels, in short media, while ensuring brilliant execution across all categories and brands in Unilever Malaysia. In late 2008, Vern was appointed to oversee brand communication channels in Singapore, single-handedly.

Vern has a wealth of creative and quantitative experience across a broad range of marketing communication disciplines. She is currently the Chairman of Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) Malaysia and as well as the Vice President of Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA).
Chan May Ling
Head Of Marketing Services
DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd

May Ling is currently the Head of Marketing Services at DiGi Telecommunications, of which she oversees marcomm, brand, sponsorships and activations. With over 15 years of communications experience, she started her career in the advertising industry managing multiple international brands and crossed over to marketing for 8 years.

Having experience from dark market communications to fully integrated campaigns, she is always eager to ideate, and constantly strives to be a change agent in communications, and is a firm believer in excellence in execution.

Chan May Ling is a Council Member for Malaysian Advertisers Association.