MPA, along with a bevy of C-level consumer magazine executives, released a set of voluntary guidelines to help standardize advertising within tablet editions. Publisher reps from Bonnier, Conde Nast, Forbes, Hearst Magazines, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Meredith and Time Inc. are included in the MPA Tablet Metrics Task Force.

With the help of MPA and input of seven advertising agencies, the Force solidified the following as the first five recommended metrics for quantifying the digital publishing field:

1. Total consumer paid digital issues

2. The total number of tablet readers per issue

3. The total number of sessions per issue

4. The total time spent per reader per issue

5. The average number of sessions per reader per issue

These metrics also come with a recommended reporting time: the release of metrics to advertisers 10 weeks from newsstand on-sale dates for monthlies; and a recommendation of seven weeks for weekly publications. These time frames allow for four weeks to collect data, and two weeks to analyze the results.

“We took a step back and said, ‘What can we do to help the advertisers’ confidence in the power of the experience that readers are having with magazines on tablets?’” says MPA president and CEO Nina Link. “We started in December, and there has been a lot of evening meetings and morning meetings. It’s been a very dedicated group, trying to accommodate a lot of different business models.”

The Task Force also selected a group of terms to act as the standard language for tablet issues (see below for the complete list, courtesy of MPA).

Next up for the Task Force is defining engagement in tablet advertising. “If we look at the engagement analytics, and analytics are more unified, and we are talking to analytic companies, when people get more data, we’ll begin looking at ad engagement metrics,” says Link.

While there is still much work to be done in quantifying digital behaviors for stronger digital ad sales, Link says this step is a positive one for the industry.

“Agencies were certainly supportive, encouraging and happy that we were working on this and helping making it easier for them to understand the tablet experience, so they can break it down to their clients,” she says. “While right now these numbers are for advertising clients, they will probably be shared with the public in the future. The direction these [metrics] are moving in is primarily about audience and engagement, not so much about circulation and distribution.”