ABC, BPA put pedal to mettle with faster circ data

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Magazine advertisers, after years of pleading, are finally set to receive quicker, more useful audience measurement data.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations says it plans a July launch for Rapid Reports, a service that will give advertisers near-current data on magazine performance. Previous audit bureau data were available only every six months. BPA Worldwide is working on a service similar to Rapid Reports.

Meanwhile, the magazine consultancy McPheters Group is beta-testing its service, which will offer details on a magazine's audience size, engagement and ongoing audience accumulation only two to four weeks after publication dates. Results of the test are expected in May.

McPheters President Rebecca McPheters says the current lack of such timely details puts magazines at a disadvantage compared with the real-time ratings provided by new broadcast measurements, and Internet offerings like pay-per-click advertising. "This is going to make advertisers aware of how effective print is compared with other media," she says.

While faster data will also make publishers more quickly accountable for failures to meet rate bases and other readership promises, publishers acknowledge the real-time metrics provided by other media give them little choice but to move forward with their own swifter measurements.