ABC Board Meeting;More Changes Announced
The Audit Bureau of Circulations has just made available a summary of the ABC Board actions taken last week. Although most of the decisions were expected by the circulation community and have been discussed unofficially for the past six months, to some circulators, they represent more of a slide down the slippery slope of advertiser control.
For one thing, the Sponsored Sales rule has been modified so that advertiser-sponsored (paid) public-place copies must now be reported as Verified (unpaid) Circ. It was just last year that the Verified category was defined, and the criteria for Sponsored Sales to be considered as paid were established. How many circulators have already made accommodations to adjust for that change?
Perhaps advertisers and their agencies don’t realize that it takes circulators time and money to deal with constant auditing rule changes. And this is time that could be spent on more productive circulation pursuits, especially when resources are already tight.
With advertisers and agencies demanding changes to the circ category specifications, including the timing of names going on and off the Verified files and now, the inclusion of sponsored copies as Verified circ, the tools of the circulation trade are being stripped away.
CM asked long time circulation guru Chip Block (now retired) for his opinion on the latest news. "Everything circulators are trying to do to beautify circulation is for the advertisers, and it’s futile. If you jump off the Empire State building, they’ll just tell you, ‘Well, there must be a higher building you can jump off of!’"
One has to ask why, in the magazine publishing part of the business, do advertisers insist on dictating the slicing and dicing of circulation, says Block.
"In every other medium, the important thing is audience measurement;how many people see the ad. Why do they have to change the rules if the advertisers can already see where all the circulation is going? Is this only about how to make advertisers think we’re wonderful?"
"The emperor isn’t wearing any clothes here," says Block. "Circulation is not a pretty thing. It’s like making sausages. In every other medium;except the three national newspapers;advertisers ask only ‘Does it taste good?’ Only in magazines do they ask what ingredients went into them [the sausages]. Audience measurement is how it tastes! Why does the rest matter?"
The ABC "post meeting blitz" is being held via paid webinar tomorrow, July 19th, at 1 pm CDT ($149. for members).