Media auditor BPA Worldwide approved a number of new and amended rules during its December 2011 meeting in New York City, including several that address the increasing difficulty of measuring a magazine’s digital audience.
Reporting app usage, specifically, has been a challenge, increasingly so as the format is moving toward “push,” rather than email, notification of a new issue’s delivery, for which there is no mechanism for tracking successful delivery.
To address this, the BPA board has approved reporting “downloaded apps” by month within a BPA Brand Report, as opposed to a standard BPA report, along with a footnote disclosing the limitations of the figures. Apps related to the brand but not serving editorial content—such as games—must be reported as their own channel in the Brand Report and cannot be counted toward total circulation. Downloaded issues may be reported as “qualified circulation” as long as the publisher can provide issue download data.
Subscriber access to digital copies will now be used to substantiate a renewal in the following cases: when a weekly publication has been accessed nine times every six months, when a monthly publication has been accessed twice every six months, when a quarterly publication has been accessed once every six months and when a semiannual publication has been accessed once per audit period.
In response to feedback from members, the BPA board has also changed the current format for reporting readers in the “print,” “digital” and “both” categories. Previously, readers of both print and digital editions were reported only once, in the “both” category; now, they will be included in the “total print” and “total digital” as well as “total qualified (unique recipients)” columns.
Also in response to feedback, the BPA board has moved to reverse its May 2010 decision to consolidate 3b reporting. The updated rule requires publishers to report five source categories: direct request, request from recipient’s company, membership benefits, communication other than request and sources other than above. The rule is effective July 1 of this year, with first reporting on December statements.
According to the agency, BPA is working with the industry to develop improved metrics on app counts, as software and production/distribution vendors work to provide publishers with deeper data.