'Open and accountable'
Mansueto, for instance, gets to keep shaking off any hangover from its titles' previous owner, Gruner & Jahr USA, which closed shop in the U.S. and sold its magazines after suffering circulation-inflation scandals. "We are committed to maintaining open and accountable relationships with our advertisers, and we will work with ABC to make Rapid Report a success," said Jayson Goldberg, publishing director, Mansueto.
The Rapid Report universe now totals four publishers: Caring Today; Mansueto, which plans to announce its participation today; American Media; and Meredith Corp. Meredith also acquired G&J titles, including Family Circle, Fitness and Parents. Visitors to the Rapid Report section of the Audit Bureau's website today will find only numbers for American Media titles and, at the top of the alphabetical list, Caring Today, which elevated its visibility when it went from publishing one issue in 2004 to six issues this year.
The slow start to the sign-up process, while not a surprise to the Audit Bureau, comes despite public calls for quicker metrics from publishers, who want to compete better against other media, and advertisers, who want to know what they're getting for their money as soon as possible. Many requests for proposals from media-buying agencies to magazines already ask whether each title is participating in Rapid Report.
Big names still missing
Still missing from the Rapid Report rolls: Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., whose chairman-CEO has repeatedly called for faster metrics; Time Inc., the country's biggest magazine publisher; Conde Nast Publications; Hearst Magazines and plenty of others.
At the same time, the Audit Bureau today said its board had adopted new steps to shorten the amount of time it takes to complete audits of publisher's claims. Effective Jan. 1, consumer magazines will be withheld from the bureau's regular compendium when they fail to provide access to records of subscription files, distribution channels, agent sales and credit payments and cancellations within six months of each publisher's statement period.
"You get requests all the time for ABC statements," said David Soskin, general manager and circulation director, Caring Today. "The new Rapid Report allows you if you've increased your circulation or made any changes in between audits or publisher's statements to post those things online. It's easy to say we've increased from 500,000 to 750,000 and have someone say, 'Well, when's your next audit?'
"For someone like us, where visibility is important," Mr. Soskin said, "I don't see any downside in it -- or even for anyone else, unless they're not making their numbers."
Mr. Soskin said he anticipates Caring Today will carry about 100 pages of ads in 2006. Growing that figure is especially important because the title, distributed free through doctors and hospitals who ask for it, collects no circulation revenue.