FOUR A'S MOVES INTO SIMMONS FLAP

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Lou Schultz has found new fuel to fire up his 2-year-old call to revise standards for researching magazine readership.

Mr. Schultz, a Detroit-based exec VP of Lintas Worldwide, said last week he's planning on renewing his call for new standards to identify core magazine readers.

The spark for his rekindled effort is the rhubarb pitting Simmons Market Research Bureau against the Magazine Publishers of America. Also getting into the fray is the American Association of Advertising Agencies, trying to play peacemaker by calling all warring factions to a September meeting.

In the Simmons research now under question, the actual number of magazine readers has remained fairly constant over the years. But embedded within that research is a statistic that says the number of "screens"-the potential readers who have looked at a magazine in the past six months and from whom the actual readers are drawn-was decreasing.

Simmons has insisted that its research is sound and the variation is insignificant.

Mr. Schultz electrified the MPA's annual gathering in October 1992 with his dramatic call for new research standards to identify core magazine readers. He backed his words with Lintas' offer of $100,000 to help fund the research that would give agencies and advertisers more information about core readers.

"I had lined up $300,000 to build a better research model," he said. "I offered it to both the Magazine Publishers of America and the Advertising Research Foundation. Two years went by, nothing happened, and lo and behold we have another problem with Simmons research."

The MPA and ARF did convene a symposium in early '93, but an MPA official said the research would cost millions.

There are plenty of people who say the latest controversy is overblown.

"Screen indexes are not used in the buying process," said Sam Sotiriou, senior VP-director of media research at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York. "This could all end up being a very academic question."

A draft report from the MPA earlier this year said it found the variations "perplexing." When the draft leaked to the press last month, Simmons feared some connected to the MPA report had a political agenda to cast doubt on the company's research.

The simmering controversy has prompted the Four A's to call Simmons, its principal rival Media-

mark Research Inc. and the MPA to a Sept. 23 meeting in New York.

"It's not a mathematical necessity that the [screen-to-actual reader] trends have to coincide," said Stuart Gray, senior VP-media research at BBDO Worldwide and chairman of the Four A's Media Research Committee, "but if we could figure why there is the variation, it would make us all a lot more comfortable."

From an advertiser's viewpoint, Mr. Schultz seeks research that details the very involved reader-not the casual pass-along reader.

So far, the Advertising Research Foundation is steering clear of the flap.

"Maybe as a result of the [Four A's] meeting we'd get involved, but so far it looks like it's between the MPA and Simmons," said ARF President Michael Naples.

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