"We need to be comparable to other media," said Judy Bahary, VP-captivation director, Starcom Worldwide. "It's not just counting delivery of an issue to a home or a newsstand. It's understanding the total audience and its reaction."
Don't forget effectiveness
Other panelists agreed. Judy Franks, exec VP-director of brand strategy at Energy BBDO, said she gets discouraged by all the talk about magazine audiences instead of ad effectiveness -- not to mention publishers' position that their magazines' ads can do anything that ads in other media do. Magazines ought to play to their strengths, she said, such as their relationships with readers and ability to showcase great images.
To be fair, the industry has made a lot of recent progress. Buyers once complained that publishers and research companies only described magazines' paid circulation and audience numbers in reports that came out twice a year. Now the Audit Bureau of Circulations and Mediamark Research have introduced products that provide results much closer to real time.
"There is a lot of information out there that does value and show the value of print," said Britta Ware, VP-research solutions at Meredith, moderating the Magazine Day panel about measurement.
Other media, however, are pushing ahead at the same time. TV, for example, is turning in more precise audience estimates using new Nielsen ratings and data from set-top boxes.
"We talk about audiences," Ms. Franks said. "We forget to talk about why consumers love magazines in the first place."