Print and Digital Publishing

Magazines Create 'Industry-Wide' Guarantee for Ad Pages

Published on .

The magazine industry, which has been increasingly emphasizing its digital reach, is making a new play to backstop advertising in its print editions, forging an "industry-wide" guarantee that ad pages will achieve sales results for marketers. If those results don't materialize, qualifying marketers will be made whole with free ad space or refunds.

The program, called the Print Magazine Sales Guarantee, was developed by the medium's chief trade group, MPA -- The Association of Magazine Media. The association said participants in the program reach 75% of magazine readers, and Time Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst and Meredith confirmed they are participating.

The program is meant to counter consumer magazines' long decline in ad pages, which haven't posted industry-wide annual increase since 2005. An advertiser can receive the new guarantee if the product it is promoting comes from a category like packaged food, in which outside research firms such as Nielsen Catalina Solutions track sales closely. The advertiser must also buy enough pages to reach the equivalent of 150 gross rating points among adult consumers over 12 months. And it needs to be running a bigger campaign with the publisher than in the year earlier.

Publishers will compare product sales among a group of households exposed to the ads to sales among a control group. If the return on investment isn't greater than the advertiser's outlay on the ads, the publisher will rebate the difference.

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