French audit firm looks to Middle East

French circulation audit firm OJD has said it is “deeply interested” in increasing its presence in the Middle East after the Circulation Audit Steering Organisation said it would like to see the company play more of a role in the region.

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By  Steve Wrelton Published  July 16, 2006

French circulation audit firm OJD has said it is “deeply interested” in increasing its presence in the Middle East after the Circulation Audit Steering Organisation said it would like to see the company play more of a role in the region. OJD, which already audits three publications in Lebanon from its offices in Paris, told Campaign that it was serious about setting up shop in the Middle East. “We are deeply interested to re-develop our business in Lebanon and the Middle East,” said Patrick Bartement, chief executive officer at OJD. “The recent Lebanese history, and especially the period of the civil war, destroyed our office in the country. “We have kept only three Lebanese titles that are audited directly from France. This situation, which is not satisfactory, will change very quickly. We are planning a trip to Beirut in September to try, with all the people interested, to launch an OJD organisation for Lebanon and for the Middle East,” he said. Castor, which is made up of the GCC Association of Advertisers, the IAA and media agencies, has now certified BPA Worldwide as an official audit provider. But the organisation is keen to forge links with other companies in an effort to give publishers greater choice when applying for an audit. Marwan Rizk, vice president and area director of the IAA and chairman of Castor, told Campaign: “BPA has been a great help to us and they have been taking this very seriously. “Now what we want to do is say that this is the minimum standard and we would like to invite others. “We are working on getting ABC back in some format — it’s up for them to decide — and also OJD, which is the closest possible apart from ABC, because they have already been active in the Levant area. We are creating this interest by inviting them and updating them on the situation.” Rizk also repeated his call for ABC to return to the region, perhaps by franchising the ABC name to a Middle East auditing house. “If a company or a body like ABC could work through an auditing house, we think that it might work. They could give it their franchise and use their brand.” Eric Mirabel, business development director at Omnicom Media Group, said that the decision by ABC to quit the Middle East in June had increased the need to bring other companies to the region. “We are looking at our options in terms of all the audit bureaus and all the methods of audit. “We have to react to the decision by ABC and we have to find alternatives and go back to a situation where we have more auditors doing work in the region.” “OJD — that is the type of organisation that we would be looking at,” he added. At present the BPA is the only company that is offering audits to Middle East media owners. It has almost 40 titles that have either been audited, or that have already applied to be audited. Speaking after the BPA had been officially certified by Castor, Stuart Wilkinson, director of BPA in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “The Castor system is a system which allows the market to take some ownership over the audit process. “BPA has now got the endorsement of the key decision makers and so it’s changing the perception of us just being a service provider, to something that has more of a vision or a purpose. That’s what has come out of Castor.”

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