New Circ Software Makes Media Planning Easier
Lolito said in a recent interview that the software was originally intended to give marketers and ad agencies the ability to make quick decisions with regard to ad placement in publications. But since its January launch, publishers have also jumped on board. "It was surprising, but, if you think about it, it’s a really great sales tool for the seller and a great negotiation tool for the buyer," he said. Circ IQ integrates data from Audit Bureau of Circulation reports on 475 magazines, organizes it into four groups (Stability, Quality, Consumer Demand, and Accuracy Track Record), and then computes a score based on more than 40 individual measures. A magazine’s stability, for example, is determined by in-depth analysis of its short- and long-term subscription sales and churn. Nine factors are weighed, including the percentage of one- to six-month subscriptions sold as compared to the previous reporting period and the magazine’s category.
The Circ IQ comparative rating system is based on a 100-point scoring method, which can be adjusted by agencies and advertisers based on their own choices of what rating criteria are most important to them. This is designed to "help put circulation data into context."
Since its January release, the technology has been embraced by agencies such as Starcom, MindShare, OMD, Universal McCann, MediaVest, TargetCast and Saatchi LA. Lotito says the system will be used for making buying decisions; it analyzes categories, ranks magazines and uncovers trends. It can also be used for negotiations on rates and post-buy analyses, to calculate the monetary impact of missed rate bases, etc. (Lotito points out that media buyers have been negotiating rates all along and that this tool will just make the process more objective.)
Agencies and publishers can customize the Circ IQ model by adjusting the relative weighting of the individual components, Lolito said. For example, a marketer that deems stability more important than consumer demand can change the weighing from 25 percent for each category to 40 percent for stability and 10 percent for consumer demand or some other variation, he said.
"Low IQ Strategy"
Circulators, however, aren’t as quick to embrace the technology as ad agencies. "CircIQ looks like another nail in the coffin of rationality when it comes to buying advertising," says industry consultant Chip Block. " In a stampede to attempt to make a craft into a science, buyers not only have thrust unquantifiable concepts such as ﾑwantedness’ and ﾑengagement’ upon publishers, but are now going to rely on an untutored set of indices created in a virtual vacuum.
"The danger," says Block, "is that publishers will run their circulation programs to maximize ﾑcircIQ’ instead of profitability. That is a low IQ strategy."