“Push-Back” From Advertisers Reported Against Verified Circ
Initial response from advertisers to pink sheets coming out under the new Audit Bureau of Circulations rules adopted in March 2006 can be summed up as "mild push-back." The result is a lot of training for sales people, much discussion on audience with agencies, and sometimes rate negotiation. In a few cases advertisers do not want to pay for Non-paid circulation.
Michael Moran, executive vice president, Audit Services, ABC, reported at the FOLIO: Show Wednesday that 220 publications have reported some circulation as verified. One third of that circulation is individual and two thirds Verified used in public places. In using the sum of all the averages for the 220 magazines these numbers represent 1.7 million copies to individuals and 7 million public place locations.
In the public place, personal care was most used, doctors offices the most second used. For individual use, most publishers used requester copies, which surprised Moran. Request is not a requirement, but it is an option.
Brian Wolfe, president, Time Consumer Marketing Inc., reported that so far there has been trepidation on how verified will be received, but he has not seen a lot of push-back. "Part of it is because we went out ahead and explained verified to advertisers," Wolfe said. "We also did a lot of research to show the quality of the audience. A lot of sales training is needed.
"Push-back sometimes requires negotiating, Wolfe added." Advertisers say they will not pay for non-paid circulation, but in a few cases we have turned that around. There are a lot of questions which means a lot of hassle for sales people. They would rather be talking about programs."
Michael Sheehy, circulation director, Wenner Media said, "We ran into a lot of people at agencies who didn’t understand what verified is. Our sales people didn’t realize it was something they had to know. When they got out into the field they learned." Wolfe agreed that few agencies understand the fine points, such as the difference between verified and sponsored circulation for example.
There are some benefits to the new verified circulation rules, according to Sheehy. "We had a cloud hanging over us. Some people where doing shady things behind closed doors. I’m glad we cleaned that up." Wolfe added, "I think the transparency is a plus. It gives us a chance to explain that this circulation is good.
Wolfe says a lot of time is spent in sales calls on this circulation which still represents less than 5 percent of circulation for many publishers. That feels a little odd at the end of the day."
When asked if there is a magic number for verified that advertiser will accept, Wolfe said 5 percent seems to be acceptable, but if you have 20-25 percent of your circulation verified you will have a lot of explaining to do and advertisers will negotiate."
Wolfe feels that eventually verified will replace sponsored. "I think sponsored is on life support," he said. "I think the transparency of verified will force sponsored out."