After last
month’s blog post on "bogus" magazine metrics
, I got reactions ranging from
"right on!" (Discover‘s newsstand
consultant) to "why on Earth would you write a negative blog post about media
planners?" (our ad sales team).

One of the more interesting responses came from Publishers
Information Bureau President Wayne Eadie. 
Wayne e-mailed
me to expand on their use of rate card revenue (the metric I called "bogus") in
addition to page counts:

have surveyed agencies repeatedly as to what they would like to see reported,
and every time they reply that open rate card reporting is their preference.
Every agency knows what they are paying every magazine that they deal with.
They are best equipped to put the proper "average discount" against the
category or title that they are evaluating, and the open rate card rate is the
best equivalent starting point for them to treat every title or genre fairly.

He went on to note that advertising agencies, not
publishers, provide most of PIB’s revenue, so if the agencies say they want to
see rate card revenue, then PIB will continue to provide it.

That makes perfect sense to me from the PIB
perspective.  PIB has to assume that if
agencies are requesting (and paying) for the data, then agency research analysts
are doing the extra work to apply an effective discount against each title.

For all I know, this may be true.  From experience, though, it seems more likely
that stretched-thin planning teams are relying on the published numbers and
trade reports. 

In the past couple of years, PIB has made a couple of moves
that demonstrate sometimes less is more. 
I find the new quarterly reports more helpful than the old monthly ones,
because they provide a clearer picture of the overall trends by title and

PIB also recently stopped putting out their "Group
Publishers Report" because of concerns about "irresponsible use of the data without
proper explanation."  They would do well
to undertake a similar reevaluation of the rate card revenue numbers.