Le­banon’s Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion Pushes for More Trans­parency


Me­dia Re­search in Le­banon: The Rated Fund­ing the Raters In a coun­try where me­dia rat­ings are only funded by the me­dia out­lets be­ing rated, the need for ex­ter­nal, in­de­pen­dent rat­ings im­poses it­self as a chief con­cern for the industry. It all started in 2004, when the Le­banese Broadcasting Cor­po­ra­tion (LBC) de­cided, through its regie AVM, to add a 2.5 per­cent fee on all gross book­ings, part of which was meant to fi­nance tele­vi­sion au­di­ence mea­sure­ments. By 2009, the re­main­ing lo­cal TV sta­tions (MTV, OTV, Al Jadeed, NBN) also adopted the 2.5 per­cent for­mula. “The prob­lem arose when the study and au­dit were fi­nanced through the tele­vi­sions them­selves, which cre­ated bias due to ob­vi­ous rea­sons.” Up un­til 2014, all me­dia rat­ings in Le­banon were com­piled by Ip­sos. Early that same year, an­other me­dia com­pany called GFK be­gan to re­lease lo­cal fig­ures based on the in­stalled peo­ple-me­ter sys­tem. “We now had two me­dia cur­ren­cies in town, which ul­ti­mately re­sulted in a split of money as some tele­vi­sions were fi­nanc­ing the first com­pany while oth­ers were fi­nanc­ing the sec­ond driv­ing the call for an ob­jec­tive­lyin­de­pen­dent au­dit.”

The Need for In­de­pen­dent Fund­ing Af­ter the Le­banese Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion got the Min­istry of Labour to is­sue a de­cree in Fe­bru­ary 2015, it de­cided to do some­thing about the two rat­ing sys­tems to lend them more cred­i­bil­ity. “We first com­mis­sioned two in­ter­na­tional au­di­tors: CESP, a well-known French com­pany and Robert Rood, an ex­pert who pre­vi­ously au­dited Ip­sos Le­banon back in 2011. Both par­ties al­ready started the field­work and should have con­crete re­sults by the end of Oc­to­ber.” The eval­u­a­tion will be based on a pre­de­ter­mined set of KPIS that will be used to rate both me­dia re­search com­pa­nies. A de­lib­er­a­tion will fol­low, by the end of which both au­di­tors will re­lease their rec­om­men­da­tions re­lated to the me­dia re­search com­pany that should be adopted by the industry. To in­sure the trans­parency of me­dia rat­ings in the fu­ture, the Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion es­tab­lished a three per­cent fee on all me­dia book­ings in Le­banon to se­cure in­de­pen­dent fund­ing for the coun­try’s me­dia rat­ings. “This sys­tem will al­low us to su­per­vise every­thing that’s go­ing on. If a client does not have an agency, he/she will then pay the fee di­rectly to the me­dia com­pany.” The pay­ment will be made through monthly in­stal­ments. “If we want cred­i­ble stud­ies, we need to fol­low in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. It’s not some­thing we can im­pose, this is some­thing we can at­tract peo­ple to be part of. Af­ter all, what we are do­ing is not for per­sonal gain rather for the sake of the industry as a whole.” A vast ma­jor­ity of me­dia out­lets have al­ready wel­comed the de­ci­sion. “All TVS and ra­dio sta­tions agreed as well as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive ma­jor­ity of the press in­clud­ing many out­door com­pa­nies.” And while the plan will be im­ple­mented grad­u­ally, any me­dia com­pany that does not sign the agree­ment will not be en­ti­tled to the three per­cent fee. “All com­pa­nies that are un­der or will be join­ing the Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion will have a stamp that says ‘mem­ber of the Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’ on their in­voices. We’re mak­ing this sym­bol more vis­i­ble and em­pow­er­ing for ev­ery­body in or­der to truly lead this industry into the fu­ture.”

The First Seeds of Syn­dic Re­form While me­dia rat­ings are of chief in­ter­est to the AA, its fu­ture plans do not stop at this no­tion but ex­tend to cover other is­sues re­lated to the me­dia sec­tor in line with the chang­ing needs of this in­creas­ingly frag­mented industry. “Agen­cies used to be rep­re­sented as global agen­cies where every­thing was un­der one en­tity. In time, the agen­cies that fol­lowed the in­ter­na­tional trend be­came more spe­cialised in terms of ser­vices, which is where I had the idea to take over the syn­di­cate and start re­form­ing it.” This shift elicited the need for a more di­verse syn­dic en­vi­ron­ment. “First we changed the by­laws in a way to have a board com­prised of twelve mem­bers in­stead of six. Con­sid­er­ing the dif­fer­ent types of com­pa­nies, me­dia reps and other me­dia spe­cial­ists en­ter­ing the industry, we de­cided to change the name from the Le­banese Ad­ver­tis­ing Agen­cies As­so­ci­a­tion (LAAA) to the Le­banese Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (LAA) to in­clude all new­com­ers. To fur­ther strengthen the as­so­ci­a­tion, we set out to fi­nance all re­lated ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia needs rang­ing from stud­ies to new laws as well as of­fer an ad­vanced pay­ment pol­icy. “The syn­di­cate will hence­forth su­per­vise, con­trol and lead every­thing re­lated to ad­ver­tis­ing thereby ush­er­ing it into a whole new era, which is a com­mon global prac­tice.” The new set of de­ci­sions will take ef­fect start­ing Jan­uary 2016. “Our big­gest chal­lenge will be to ex­e­cute th­ese de­ci­sions to which all syn­di­cate mem­bers and com­pa­nies have pledged their sup­port as th­ese are in ev­ery­one’s in­ter­est.”

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