Quebec papers to go it alone

Leave NADbankThe very public feud between the so-called Probec dailies in Quebec and the Newspaper Marketing Bureau over its NADbank '94 numbers has landed in divorce court.The seven Quebec newspapers have withdrawn from NADbank and are laying the groundwork for their...

Leave NADbank

The very public feud between the so-called Probec dailies in Quebec and the Newspaper Marketing Bureau over its NADbank ’94 numbers has landed in divorce court.

The seven Quebec newspapers have withdrawn from NADbank and are laying the groundwork for their own study.

At the same time, coincidentally, Southam Newspaper Group has hired Kubas Consultants to ask agencies and advertisers in Toronto and Montreal how NADbank can be improved.

Bill French, vice-president of sales for Southam, says his company has no intention of undermining NADbank, and the Kubas commission is unrelated to the Probec dispute.

French says Southam and its paper in Montreal, The Gazette, are quite satisfied with NADbank ’94.

He says Kubas’ work for Southam could be seen as part of a development reaching back to the publisher’s Aditus advertising sales initiative.

Southam is Canada’s largest newspaper proprietor with 17 titles in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and elsewhere.

Tony Lanza, marketing research director for Montreal’s La Presse, best known of the Probec papers, says the seven dailies intend to invest ‘major sums’ to produce a newspaper survey that, ideally, would be fused with one that already exists, such as the Print Measurement Bureau’s.

However, in an interview from Montreal, Lanza stresses planning for the new study is still in its infancy and any talk of merging it with pmb’s database – or any other – signals an interest on Probec’s part, nothing more.

He says in the event the proposed Probec study is not fused with another, it will go ahead independently, funded by the seven French-language dailies and perhaps other interested parties.

The seven papers are: Quebec city’s Le Soleil, Le Quotidien in Chicoutimi and Le Droit in Ottawa-Hull.

All are owned by Unimedia.

The other four papers, La Presse, Le Nouvelliste in Trois Rivieres, Granby’s La Voix de l’est and La Tribune in Sherbrooke are owned by Power Corp.

Probec is the advertising representative for the seven newspapers.

The impetus for the split between the seven Quebec dailies and the Newspaper Marketing Bureau’s annual NADbank survey stems from NADbank ’94 data; specifically, sample size, and the growth of blue-collar workers in Montreal, and the decline in numbers in that city of managers, owners, professionals and executives.

After a couple of months of discussion, some public, some private, the Probec papers found they could not accept NADbank ’94 findings despite assurances from the Newspaper Marketing Bureau and a review by Chuck Chakrapani, a media consultant associated with the nmb and president of Toronto’s Standard Research Systems.

John Finneran, president of Toronto-based nmb, appears unconcerned by Probec’s move.

Finneran says first the study has to be conducted and it has to have some credibility.

He suggests Probec will not have any results until 1996, and from what he hears, most of the industry does not want another survey anyway.

Lanza says the Probec papers want to be in the field as soon as possible, and expect to have chosen a supplier by the end of this month.

Finneran says the nmb has no reason to worry about the impact other newspaper studies may have on NADbank because it is already well-established and known to be reliable.

He says next year, NADbank will remain the same, although there will be some refinements.

One of them will be the use of Statistics Canada’s occupational codings, rather than NADbank-generated codings.

The Canadian Media Directors Council will get a chance to hear Finneran’s side of the story March 8 in Toronto when he will address a special session of the cmdc.

NADbank is an annual survey of consumers and daily newspaper readership. It is paid for by 36 dailies in 32 markets across Canada.

The departure of the Probec papers has cut NADbank membership to 36 dailies from 43.

Each year NADbank surveys 12,000 adults, providing a rolling sample of 24,000 adults. NADbank surveys are completed by Canadian Facts.

Lanza says he is aware of the fragmentation issue, and the subject has been brought to his attention in talks with agencies in Montreal and Toronto.

He says one of the reasons why he has been doing rounds of ad agencies is to find out what they want included in the study, adding, the last thing Probec wants to do is duplicate the NADbank survey.

Lanza and Alain Choiniere, president of Montreal-based research firm Cogem, were recently in Toronto talking to agencies and other interested parties.

Also working on the proposed Probec study is Tony Jarvis, a media consultant and president of Toronto’s Jarvis, Sherman & Jarvis.

All three men will work on the design of the study.

The initial reaction in Toronto media circles to the proposed Probec study has been lukewarm, prompted by fears of further fragmentation.

‘I wish they’d [Probec] stop for a moment and take a deep breath to consider other options,’ says David Harrison, president of Harrison Young Pesonen & Newell.

‘I would hate to see newspaper readership devolve into a sea of fragmentation,’ Harrison says. ‘It would do nothing for newspapers.’

Still, Harrison is not happy with the status quo, either.

He says his view, widely held among buyers, is that newspapers would be better served if NADbank combined with another media research organization, namely pmb.

‘We would like to see the two get together,’ says Harrison, who adds he always thought it odd that a marketing organization, the nmb, and a research group, NADbank, ‘are one and the same thing.’

Bruce Claassen, president of Genesis Media, says he also cautioned the Probec group about the danger of fragmenting the market with another set of media data.

‘I said to them, `Watch you don’t reinvent the wheel,’ ‘ Claassen says.

Like Harrison, Claassen would like to see ‘any initiative that would lead to a greater confluence of interests’ leading to improved media research.

He says he would not be against NADbank pooling its resources with pmb.