Innovators: circulation

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Traditionally, when a magazine cut 10% of its newsstand copies, it often would lose 10% of its sales. But there was still at least 15% that didn't sell very well, if at all.

Tom Masterson and BusinessWeek are helping to change that. Masterson went to the title's distributor, COMAG, to find new ways to track a title's newsstand draw. The distributor has since rolled out Edge, which allows users to follow their title at each specific selling point.

"It's the difference between being able to track sales in the New York metro region and being able to track the newsstand in the lobby of your building," Masterson said. BusinessWeek cut 14% of its draw last year and saw virtually no effect in newsstand sales. In addition, Masterson led his title through audits by both ABC and BPA Worldwide. BusinessWeek is the first major general business title to be audited by both organizations.

"By holding ourselves to a higher standard, we believe advertisers will, too," Masterson said.

"ABC really knows paid circulation, and BPA has a very modern audit methodology," Masterson said. Plus, BPA completes the audits faster, enabling BusinessWeek's sales force to use the information quickly, he said.

Last year also brought the launch of SmallBiz , which focuses on companies with fewer than 100 employees that are "sophisticated small businesses, meaning tech firms, consultants, high-level finance; that kind of thing," Masterson said.

The 500,000 names on SmallBiz's circulation list were gleaned from BusinessWeek's subscription file as well as another list Masterson keeps: the McGraw-Hill Business Readers database.

-M. J. M.

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