Newspaper Competitions: Ramadan Tradition Disappears This Year Due to Decline in Advertising

AKEED, Anwar Ziadat

Ramadan competitions have disappeared from the largest circulation local daily newspapers this year. Thus, the printed press has lost a decades-old tradition under pressure of a decline in the advertising market and development in means of communication, particularly social media platforms, which have contributed to the drop in readership of hardcopy newspapers.

Daily newspapers usually publish numerous cultural, religious, and sports competitions during Ramadan. They also publish general competitions throughout the days of the holy month in their print copies, and not on their websites. In the past, newspapers used to ask readers to mail the correct answers to the daily questions after the end of the holy month to their post addresses. They required sending coupons of 28 editions of the hardcopy. Some newspapers set a condition that the number of coupons must not be less than 25.

As for prizes, they were sometimes in-kind, while the biggest prize would be a car. Other prizes included electrical appliances. On other occasions, newspapers offered cash prizes, in addition to annual subscriptions to the hardcopy.

On the disappearance of Ramadan competitions, Khalil Shubaki, deputy chief editor of Al Rai, told the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) that the main idea behind these competitions was for a certain press establishment to express thanks to its readers, nothing more and nothing less. He pointed out that Al Rai canceled this page several years ago because of the confusion that used to accompany these competitions and the fact that some people considered them a means of promoting the newspaper.

Shubaki attributes the disappearance of these competitions from newspapers to the decline in the advertising market, especially in the printed press. He indicated that the difficult economic conditions in the Kingdom, which companies, too, are suffering, had reflected on allocations for advertising in Jordan.

He added that since 2012, the advertising market in the printed press has started to decline by close to 60% because of the new means of advertisement linked to social media. He said that Al Rai was working on a plan to keep up with developments in the advertising market and its means.

For his part, Marwan Suleiman, director of advertising at Al Dustour daily newspaper, said that competitions disappeared this year from the newspaper. However, there is no permanent decision on this; they could return in the coming years. He indicated that some entities that finance these competitions, including banks, had declined to do so this year.

He pointed out that the newspaper drew the prizes of the "newspaper subscriptions" competition in recent days and decided against offering another competition anytime soon. He added that the drop in the value of the advertising market had largely reflected on the printed press. He said that any prize would cost a lot; the price of a car offered as a prize would be around 20,000 dinars.

Mohammed Suwaidan, managing editor in Al Ghad newspaper, says that this issue had to do with advertisements and public relations. The editorial staff does not interfere with this subject directly. He indicated that these competitions used to come from companies as "advertisements." This year, none of these companies has adopted these competitions.

He attributed the absence of competitions in the newspapers to stagnation in the advertising market. In addition, newspapers view these competitions as a means of advertisement and consider them ineffective, especially since many companies now have their own methods of advertising through social media, text messages, and others. He said that these competitions used to create an interactive atmosphere with readers and that they had their own audience. However, their absence would not have a great negative effect on newspapers in terms of interaction, readership, and economic returns.

The AKEED Monitor thinks that the disappearance of Ramadan competitions from the daily newspapers is an indication of the difficulties facing the printed press in the local advertising market. This has coincided with the economic difficulties faced by the Kingdom. Also, it is not possible to ignore the large share seized by social media from the traditional press.