MAGAZINES CATCH UP WITH RAPID REPORTS

Circulation Results to be Available Within Weeks of Publishing

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Just last year, executives of the Audit Bureau of Circulations told anyone who asked that speeding up circulation reporting would risk inaccuracies and thereby imperil the credibility of the bureau itself. Ad buyers and others would just have to make do with twice-yearly publishers’ statements and annual bureau audits that can arrive more than a year after the fact.
Photo: AP
Media buyers should be relieved about the audit bureau’s new plan to introduce an ABC Rapid Report, which will allow consumer titles to report circulation within weeks of an issue's on-sale date.

But since then, the ranks of those who agreed dwindled until perhaps the bureau alone defended the status quo.

Advertising Age explored the problem in its issue of Oct. 17, 2005, at the start of last fall's American Magazine Conference. “Outside magazines’ log cabin, Nielsen Media Research delivers TV ratings overnight,” we wrote. “Online advertisers can see results in real time. They can even swap one creative execution for another almost as soon as they decide to.”

“When media swirls essentially constantly and we consume it more than we sleep, advertisers need nearly constant information just to keep up. Magazines make them wait for months.”

Here’s Jack Kliger, president-CEO at Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. and chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America, in a speech last December: “It is essential, I believe, that our industry moves to a more timely system of readership measurement -- a system that shows the connection between distribution and readership more effectively.”

And then consider BPA Worldwide, the audit bureau’s much smaller rival. It said six months ago that it was developing a way for its consumer magazine members to quickly report top-line circulation data on a by-issue basis, within a few weeks of a title’s on-sale date.

So it is with open arms that the industry and media buyers receive the audit bureau’s new plan to introduce an ABC Rapid Report, which will allow consumer titles to report circulation within weeks of an issue's on-sale date.

Note that these are still plans. Even now, in mid-March, the bureau hasn’t finished posting the newest publisher’s statements to its Web site. Reporters can’t use the site to get data on any issue of Time magazine, for example, after June 27, 2005.

Note too that the Rapid Report is optional; once the service goes live in July, it will be interesting to see which publishers participate -- and which do not.

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