New ComBase Board signals our intent to compete

This month, ComBase was legally incorporated as the Canadian Community Newspaper Database Corporation (CCNDC), an independent, for-profit corporation operating on behalf of the community newspaper industry. Its sole shareholder is the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA). According to its charter, its objectives are: to design and conduct research studies in Canadian markets focussing on community newspaper readership and its various characteristics, including demographics and various consumer habits and behaviours including lifestyle and other media usage; to foster and engender a greater understanding of the nature of community newspapers throughout Canada; and to do all such other and further acts and things relating thereto or otherwise, which may be found necessary or expedient, so far as the same are permitted by law.

An independent board of 15 directors, chaired by David Stanger, Owner of DSA Baron & Associates, with offices in Vancouver and Calgary, and co-chaired by CCNA President, Jim Cumming, governs ComBase. Directors must be represented in equal numbers from these categories: publishers of community newspapers published in Canada who are members in good standing of the CCNA or one of its regional affiliates; advertising agencies and media buyers who purchase space in community newspapers for the purpose of placing advertising on behalf of their clients; and persons or corporations who purchase space in community newspapers for the publication of advertisements relating to the sale of their services and/or products.

The Board strives for geographic balance as well. The complete list of current directors can be found at Go to Personnel.

Three years ago, the Research Task Force, led by Jim Cumming, commissioned an analysis of the reasons we were not getting our share of national advertising. The lack of an independent, national research study came up as the single most important factor. Not only that, planners told us that it had to be conducted according to industry norms and governed by a body that was independent of the industry, as other media research is. That meant a tri-partite organization, functioning autonomously, that oversees the research project, manages the supplier contracts, negotiates rates on your behalf and supervises your ComBase President. It makes all decisions relating to the study, the CCNDC’s only project at this time, from methodology to end-use to pricing to budgets. If and when we undertake other types of research such as Advertising Effectiveness, etc., the Board will manage those as well.

In short, we did it because it’s what the advertising industry asked us to do if we wanted to pave the way for more advertising dollars.

An independent research corporation governed by a separate tri-partite board is an important development for the community newspaper industry in that we have removed one more barrier to acceptance by the advertising planning community. It signals our intent to compete in the same arena as the other large media who have all had such audience measurement infrastructures for years. It also signals our expectation to be taken seriously as an advertising medium among planners and buyers accustomed to dealing with nationally commissioned research studies governed by independent tri-partite boards. That’s the broad view of what this means for us. What does it mean day to day?

There have been some concerns that community newspapers have lost control over their research, or at least passed it on to a group they do not know and will not have access to. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The ComBase charter legally stipulates the composition of the board. That means that it must always have five representatives from the community newspaper side. Further, they must be senior players – the wording is general enough that it includes o