Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New ABC circ rules allow magazines to count digital sales even if ads are different

Changes to the rules of the Audit Bureau of Circulations mean that magazines can carry different ads in their digital editions than in print, a development that pleases publishers but annoys media buyers. 
Publishers will be able to take credit for success in developing new platforms such as iPad editions and ABC will break out print and digital edition circulation data even if different advertising is carried in each. Until now, ABC rules required tablet editions to carry the same ads as print if publishers wanted  them to count towards paid circulation guaranteed rate bases.
According to a story from AdAge, this approach to total circulation will make work for media buyers and ad agencies.
The rules didn't support today's landscape any longer, said Robin Steinberg, senior VP-director of publisher investment and activation at MediaVest USA as well as a member of the audit bureau's board, which unanimously approved the rule change. "The publishing area is becoming increasingly digitized. The rules need to evolve."
That evolution won't be simple, Ms. Steinberg acknowledged. "Today it's complicated," she said. "Tomorrow it's going to become even more complicated."
"We need to move the industry forward," she added. "Unfortunately, initially it's going to result in additional, unnecessary work for the buyers as there might be confusion to understand where your ad was placed. Print only? Digital only? Or both?"
The rules change is detailed in a news release from ABC.
ABC President Mike Lavery noted that the changes are more accommodating to digital publishing deadlines and realities. “Early magazine digital editions were commonly PDFs of the print version, so ABC required a digital replica to be just that—an exact version of the print issue,” Lavery said. “But with today’s advanced publishing software for tablet devices like the iPad, the environment is far richer and more complex. Even static print ads often require reformatting for digital publication. These production requirements can put a burden on the deadline-driven communication between client, agency, and publisher to ultimately determine the advertiser’s wishes, especially for fractional and classified buys. The new parameters simplify the process, make the advertiser’s intent clear, and streamline the audit requirements.”
Replica digital editions that meet the new ABC standards will continue to qualify as paid circulation and be credited toward rate base. Additional details are on ABC’s website.

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