Conde Nast Commits All Titles to Audit Bureau's Rapid Report

Follows Time Inc. in Plan to Update Circulation Data Each Month

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Condé Nast has decided to commit every one of its titles, from Glamour to Vanity Fair, to the Audit Bureau of Circulations' Rapid Report program, bringing one of the last holdouts into a system intended to update magazines' traditional practice of reporting circulation figures only twice a year. The move follows the decision last month by Time Inc., the country's largest publisher, to join Rapid Report in full.
Conde Nast titles, including Vanity Fair, will now make their circulation figures available to media buyers every month.
Conde Nast titles, including Vanity Fair, will now make their circulation figures available to media buyers every month.

Condé didn't have much to say about its decision to sign up its 24 titles for the service, only confirming it before declining to elaborate. But together, the two biggest magazine companies' final acquiescence to the fledgling system, which has been straining for critical mass since summer 2006, means that providing nearly real-time sales figures has become essentially ratified as the new industry standard.

A big deal
That's a big deal for magazines, which have looked increasingly archaic as the internet seemed to promise instant results and even TV began receiving more precise ratings.

Media-buying agency MediaVest last May demanded that publishers guarantee each issue's circulation instead of averaging multiple issues like usual -- and said it would pull clients' ads from magazines that don't go along by 2008. While the demand has divided publishers and media buyers, the stance seems to have gained some traction. One point most media buyers do agree on is the need for magazines to report their sales more frequently. Joining Rapid Reports makes it easier for media buyers to track each individual issue.

Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., whose magazines include Elle and Woman's Day, said in July it would put all its titles in Rapid Report. And the former Dennis Publishing, once it was acquired by Kent Brownridge and Quadrangle Partners and renamed Alpha Media, has committed to using Rapid Report.

Hearst Magazines today told Ad Age it will also join Rapid Report in full, adding every title to the system starting with their January issues. Its titles include the weekly Quick & Simple as well as monthlies Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Esquire, Seventeen and O, The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping and Town & Country; the latter two were already participating.

Still some holdouts
Some major holdouts remain, of course, although they are increasingly isolated in their insistence on revealing circulation figures only twice a year. Wenner Media's Us Weekly is the biggest abstainer by revenue, and its absence has encouraged competitors such as Star, In Touch Weekly and Life & Style Weekly to also avoid Rapid Report. Rolling Stone, a sibling of Us Weekly at Wenner, isn't using the service. Nor is Forbes, New York, Motor Trend, Playboy, or The Economist.

Once publishers join, the next frontier in timely metrics may become continued compliance. Smart Money magazine, for example, used to participate -- but hasn't posted any numbers since last July.
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