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12.06.2012 19:04

The Tabula for Free

Maia Tsiklauri
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For a few weeks now Georgian Post has been providing Silknet subscribers with the Tabula magazine. 16,000 Tbilisi-based subscribers are being delivered the new editions of the magazine every Monday free of charge. Reporting to Media.ge Tamar Chergoleishvili, Editor, The Tabula said they are the initiators of introducing this practice in Georgia, the idea is not theirs though. “This, or similar practice has been applied in Western countries for long now. The Wall Street Journal is disseminating hundreds if thousands of copies at air companies and hotels at a symbolic price in order to secure advertising revenue this way,” said Chergoleishvili.

The Tabula that has been on the Georgian market for just two years never suffered the lack of ads. Moreover, starting from the very first editions the abundance of ads in this print edition has been discussed in the context of ties between the magazine founders and incumbent authorities. To be fair it is to be mentioned that this print edition, unlike many other Georgian ones, is distinguished with its clear concept, outstanding style and high printing quality. Nevertheless the editor of the magazine cannot conceal a kind of disappointment in regard to the distribution of the magazine.

“The low grade distribution network is the issue. It is interesting that the magazine is available in the network through every distribution company but few news agents hired by us sell more copies than hundreds of kiosks or shelves. We cannot keep control over the distribution of the magazine. The magazine is not that visible either, as a rule hidden behind other magazines,” said Tamar Chergoleishvili, ”we would be implementing this project even under the circumstances of good distribution system. Being aware of a particular segment is important to the ad customer. Street kiosks are useless for that purpose. Hard to find out who the buyer is.”

The launch of the project for attracting advertising or let’s say for the purpose of boosting revenue does not sound trustworthy for another reason too. The printing expense for the publication of the magazine of this quality and volume, according to rough calculation, costs up to GEL 2 per copy. The Tabula is selling the magazine for GEL 1, one can say at a dumping price for internal market. According to the information posted on the magazine website the circulation of the print edition topped 20,000. 16,000 out of the given figure is being disseminated free of charge. Comparing the expenses and income (except for advertising) it gets evident that the goal of the project is to deliver the magazine to readers.  

According to the Tabula editor they were to increase the circulation of the magazine by 15,000.  The delivery expenses are covered by the editorial office of the Georgian Post. Tamar Chergoleishvili did not specify the exact amount though. Instead, she said, in the future the launch of the project is planned in other regions too. It’s unclear whether the Silknet subscribers will be the addressees again. At this stage Tamar Chergoleishvili is talking about the important role of the company within this undertaking. Silknet helps us with determining a particular segment, its customers make up a particular segment,” she says.

Each postman/woman, according to unofficial reports, is paid additional GEL 80 for the distribution of the Tabula magazine. We failed to verify with the Georgian Post whether that’s true. In response to our questions in regard to the agreements concluded within the project, the term of the project or the payment for the postal service Nugzar Bregvadze, head of department of international relations, administrative and legal issues of the Georgian Post said: “To get answers to the given questions you should appeal to the administrations of the Tabula and Silknet.”

The Silknet spokespersons allege they are not funding the joint project but the launch of the project turned out to be lucrative for both parties. “It’s profitable for the Tabula since its target audience has been revealed, and Silknet is conducting direct marketing with its subscribers,” said Teona Tsereteli, chief specialist, PR department, Silknet. The Tabula is rendering Silknet advertising service on its pages. In return Silknet is providing the editorial office a possibility to have guaranteed customers made up by Silknet subscribers.”

The Silknet representatives specified that their subscribers are delivered the magazine at homes or offices. This is not an exclusive agreement between the parties, in a short while some projects will be launched in whose framework the faithful Silknet subscribers will be delivered gifts as a bonus. The Silk Road Project - provision of the Georgian-language National Geographic for the subscribers to high-cost packages is being concerned. It’s unclear whether other Georgian print editions can get involved in the projects of the kind. National Geographic is the only one mentioned in the answers provided.

Georgian Post is willing to take part in the distribution of other magazines and newspapers operating on the Georgian market. “In case of the willingness of magazines and newspapers we will be co-operating with any media outlet,” said Nugzar Bregvadze. It’s another issue whether other Georgian magazines and newspapers are well off enough to struggle for the distribution of the fragile Georgian advertising market. Besides, it is to be found out whether the Georgian population is ready to receive gifts that might be of no interest.

The Georgian Post employees have already faced some problems in this regard. Several postmen said due to constant delivery of the magazine they faced some trouble with citizens. According to the Silknet representatives if anyone is unwilling to be delivered the print edition a notification should be submitted via the Silknet hot line 2 100 100. “That will be enough to remove the subscriber from the list of addressees,” said Teona Tsereteli. The Silknet subscribers can also see whether the agreement signed with the company entitled the latter to provide the service of the kind, as a bonus. 

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