Ad Buyers Ask Magazines to Reveal More About Their Tablet Editions

Letter From 4A's Print Media Committee Seeks Details on Ad Engagement and More

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Print media buyers have sent a letter to magazine publishers asking them to reveal more information about their tablet editions' performance.

Magazines are deciding which tablet metrics to regularly share with advertisers.
Magazines are deciding which tablet metrics to regularly share with advertisers.

"While certain digital extensions, such as the tablet, represent a relatively new medium, we believe the time has come for rigorous transparency and accountability," the 4A's Print Media Committee said in a May 1 letter to the MPA, the magazine industry association.

When the MPA recommended a set of tablet metrics to members in April, it suggested publishers regularly tell advertisers how many tablet editions were paid for by consumers, how many tablet editions were actually opened, the number of reader sessions per issue and the time spent per reader per issue.

But ad buyers on the 4A's Print Media Committee say they need more.

"We think there is valuable insight that can be gleaned by breaking out tablet-audience metrics by subscription and single-copy sales," said their letter, which was signed by George Janson, managing partner and director of print at Group M as well as chair of the 4A's Print Media Committee.

Among their other requests, buyers said they want information on consumer engagement with ads customized for tablet editions and separate paid-circulation guarantees for print and digital circulation.

Buyers also want to see subscriber data separated into readers who get tablet access as part of their print subscription and readers who buy tablet-only subscriptions directly.

An MPA spokesman said today in a statement that its recommendations have received a positive reaction. "We welcome input from the 4A's Print Media Committee and look forward to discussing the points that were raised in the May 1 letter," he added.

Here's the full text of the 4A's letter:

May 1, 2012

Mr. Chris Kevorkian
Chief Marketing Officer
The Association of Magazine Media (MPA)
810 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Dear Chris:

Re: Digital Transparency and Accountability

I am writing to you on behalf of the 4A's Print Media Committee. We continue to be energized by the digital evolution of magazine brands and the new, exciting and valuable opportunities they offer consumers and advertisers. While certain digital extensions, such as the tablet, represent a relatively new medium, we believe the time has come for rigorous transparency and accountability. We think the MPA's recent development of voluntary guidelines for tablets is a step in the right direction. What follows is the Committee's recommendation on metrics and procedures for some of the digital extensions. We will also be issuing this letter to each of the major publishing companies and will hope for compliance.

  • We think there is valuable insight that can be gleaned by breaking out tablet-audience metrics by subscription and single-copy sales. Additionally, we would like to see subscriber data separated between tablet readers who authenticate their print subscriptions vs. readers who purchase a subscription directly on their tablet device.

  • In order to gain wide-spread acceptance of tablet metrics and endorsement from advertisers, there's need for an accredited, third-party research vendor for measuring readership across these new devices. Further, the data needs to be reported in a consistent template across all publishing companies.

  • In order for us to effectively measure "total magazine Brand" delivery, it's critical for us to assess unduplicated readers on tablet devices vs. websites or print editions. At the very least, we should also receive basic demographic information such as: male/female split, age and median household income.

  • We believe it's important for our clients to test and learn from creative that 's customized for the tablet space. Therefore, it's important that engagement metrics include, at minimum, average time spent with "enhanced" ads such as video, slideshows, etc. In addition, we will need data on actions taken when readers engage with links and hot spots.

  • Currently, some magazines are using digital circulation to meet overall ratebase guarantees. While we applaud magazines' efforts to grow their digital circulation, some advertisers (e.g. certain pharmaceutical companies, scent seal advertisers, etc.) are not willing or able to run their advertising in digital editions, yet they are being charged for this portion of the circulation. Those advertisers should not be charged for circulation they are not purchasing. Magazines should establish a print ratebase and a digital ratebase, which will give advertisers the flexibility to purchase the circulation they desire.

Chris, we look forward to a continued dialogue between our Committee and the MPA. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss further, please give me a call.

Sincerely,
George P. Janson
Managing Partner, Director of Print, GroupM
4A's Print Media Committee Chair

cc: MPA: Nina Link, Michael Clinton
4A's: Donna Campbell, Claire Franks, Mike Donahue, Portia Badham
4A's Print Media and Media Policy Committees

4A's Print Media Committee Members
George Janson, GroupM Worldwide (Chair)
Steven Bloom, Zenith Media Services
Jennifer Christmas, Eric Mower + Associates/Strata-G
Carolyn Dubi, Initiative Worldwide
Allison Howald, PHD USA
Stacy Misher, MPG
Lucy Schmidt, Empower MediaMarketing
Harlan Schwarz, TargetCast tcm
Debbie Sklar, Horizon Media
Robin Steinberg, MediaVest USA
Shannon von Hassel, Draftfcb New York
Brenda White, Starcom Worldwide, Chicago

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