07 December 2005

Mag Industry: Let's Stop Fudging Our Numbers

When I present advertisers with readership numbers from server logs cross-referenced by ad-server counts, I get these "yeah, whatever" nods. Like they'll believe my numbers when I have certified, audited numbers like traditional magazines have. But I'm not sure I want certified, audited numbers like that! In AdAge today, MPA chairman Jack Kliger calls for more transparency:

"With the industry’s largest player, Time Inc., currently cooperating with federal authorities investigating impropriety in circulation practices, Jack Kliger, Magazine Publishers of America chairman and president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., called for the industry to clean up its act.

More on print circulation inflation:

The Newsday scandal in their own words. An excerpt:

"But the operation was a sham -- an elaborate ruse orchestrated by some circulation managers to fool auditors investigating claims that Newsday had fraudulently boosted its circulation, according to Newsday's independent home-delivery agents who participated in the scheme and two others who are familiar with it."

Sally Falkow (Sally Falkow's WebsiteContentStrategy) connects the practice of fluffing print-circulation numbers to the shift in media spending to the Internet:

"NewsDay has admitted that it had inflated its circulation by about 100,000 copies on weekdays and Sunday for the 12 months ended September 2003; Hoy's circulation was inflated by 45,000 copies during the same period. Parent Tribune Co. has set aside $90 million to reimburse advertisers who paid for fraudulently inflated circulation.... Online ad spend has been up eight week in a row. In the fourth quarter of 2004, online advertising reached a new high of $2.7 billion, according to independent research conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers for the Internet Advertising Bureau. This steady climb was further supported by strong Q1 2005 earnings from Yahoo and Google, indicating a solid resurgence for online advertising. Seems to me these might be connected."

Not a bad guess.


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