Jaldi 5 with Shailesh Gupta: Both readership & circulation will co-exist & complement each other

17 Sep,2012

On Friday, Shailesh Gupta, Director-Marketing, Jagran Prakashan was unanimously elected Chairman of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) for the year 2012-2013. S M Ahmad, Executive Vice President – Marketing of ITC was also unanimously elected as the Deputy Chairman of the Bureau for the year 2012-2013. Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison World was the outgoing Chairman of the ABC.


MxMIndia caught up with Mr Gupta on the sidelines of a dinner hosted by Mr Balsara on the occasion and sought his answers in the first edition of a new ‘quick interview’ series.


01.   What will be your priorities as Chairman of the ABC?

The priority is to bring about a more transparent system, evolve the ABC as a currency and make it a powerful decision-making tool for the industry.


02.  Over the last few years, the ABC’s role has diminished given the growth of readership as a currency… what will be your attempt to reverse it?

The idea is not to reverse it. Both Readership and Circulation as currencies will co-exist and complement each other. However, in order to make it more relevant to decision making, the currency needs to evolve with the changing times. The attempt will be to ensure that circulation as a currency regains the confidence of the industry and is of genuine use for decision making by both planners and media owners.


03.  With the merger of the NRS with the IRS, the readership currency will only get stronger with newspaper marketers. Do you see a further diminishing of the role of the ABC and the currency of ‘net paid sales’?

The core issue I think is that while the Readership currency has evolved on the one hand, the circulation as a currency has lived in status quo. Also while Readership as a currency will always be a sample-based study, Circulation is the census – therefore, the importance of the NPS is very clear. Rather than the role being diminished, I look at a scenario where we see these studies complementing each other and eventually benefiting the print industry at large.


04.   One of the charges that many publishers have had is that the ABC – over the last 15-20 years – has failed to take into account present-day practices of invitation pricing and low cover prices of publications. As publisher of India’s largest daily, do you see that rule being amended in the near future?

It’s too early to talk of the possible amendments. But clearly we will need to march ahead, look at the changes in the environment, and be able to evolve the currency to reflect the changes. For this, we will need to have all publishers on the same page. It will be important to consider suggestions and opinions of all stakeholders to create a robust and transparent currency – one that truly reflects what’s happening in the marketplace.


05.   In the United States, there’s an ABCi for measurement of traffic on websites. Do you see the ABC in India doing that in the future?

Too early to comment on that at the moment, but as of now we have a clear priority ahead in terms of restoring the sanctity of ABC as a currency and making it more relevant for the entire industry eco system.



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