These include Sunday Times, The Times, Sowetan, SundayWorld, The Herald, Daily Dispatch, Saturday Dispatch, Weekend Post and its Eastern Cape community papers. Linking the advertising rates to core circulation will take effect as soon as ABC’s are published at the end of Q1 2013, and will be reviewed quarterly thereafter.

In response to this announcement, media strategist from GSM Quadrant, Gordon Muller, commented from his Twitter account, “@mzansimedia: #TimesMedia putting their money where their mouth is by linking ad-rates to core circulation. Now that's a real new age challenge for #media!” Similarly, Wicus Swanepoel, media strategist and consultant at 1910 Pounds adds, “Congratulations on the decision to link your rates to core circulation. A brave but necessary move. I hope others will follow!”

“Innovation in all aspects of our business is an imperative for success,” says Trevor Ormerod, GM Advertising Sales &amp Strategic Communications, Times Media. “In a country where the media industry faces numerous challenges, we are always confident in the power of print. What better way to show our confidence than to implement a system that impacts our bottom line if we do not maintain the core circulation levels our advertisers expect.”

Linking advertising rates to core circulation will work on the basis that should any title decline beyond a set benchmark percentage, Times Media will offer the difference back to clients as added-value in the following quarter. This may be in the form of a reduced price on an advert, or offset against a special position loading. The benchmark for the Sunday Times and its various sections is 1%, meaning that a 1.5% decline in core circulation will result in 0.5% added-value being returned to clients in the following quarter. The benchmark is 3% for all the other titles in the group, namely The Times, Sowetan, SundayWorld, The Herald, Daily Dispatch, Saturday Dispatch and Weekend Post.

The recently released Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) results for July to September 2013 indicate that Times Media’s daily newspapers (The Times, Sowetan, The Herald, Daily Dispatch) have achieved a 1% combined circulation increase on the previous three months. Times Media is the only media group to register a quarter-on-quarter combined circulation increase in daily newspapers during this period. The Sunday Times continues its legacy as South Africa’s most bought weekly newspaper with a core circulation of 401 295 copies.

“We are also innovating in other areas to ensure that our clients get the best bang for their buck as they face budgetary pressures all round,” states Ormerod. “Our latest initiative is to deliver post-campaign testing done by Milward Brown in Sowetan and The Times, results of which we intend making available to our participating advertisers at no cost. This is our commitment to ensure the ads we run are performing optimally for our clients.”

In addition, from January 2013, relevant and carefully crafted print industry training will be offered, without charge, to all Times Media clients via the newly established Times Media Academy.

Times Media’s innovations in developing the potential of South Africa’s youth continues with the long-standing Times Media Education CSI initiatives which include Sunday Times ReadRight, the Sunday Times Storybook Campaign, Nali’bali, Career Quest and the Matric Q&ampA supplements.

Ormerod concludes, “Times Media is committed to maintaining its position as a leading provider of service to the industry, constantly looking to deliver new benefits to our clients and the community, and creating a win-win situation for everyone.”