Followup on Auto-renewals and Vouchers
"The Time Inc. auto-renewal case and settlement are certainly big news for our industry," writes David Rosen of Rick Hill Direct. "To what extent should the new procedures that Time Inc. agreed to now be considered best practices’ that other circulators need to follow in order to avoid legal/regulatory agency problems?"
Adequate and Meaningful Disclosure of Terms
According to Anne Kottler, partner, Sage Communications, a company that does creative for several large consumer publishers, consumer marketers are approaching the wording of their auto-renewals with special care, paying close attention to their legal departments on the exact wording.
In addition, CM has heard from some circulators who are making it a point to specifically explain to their customers about the auto-renewal process, including the terms of an auto-renewal subscription and what to expect with auto-billing. One way to do this is with an additional insert into the mailing.
Vouchers that Look Like Invoices
Rosen goes on to ask whether the appearance of the popular voucher package will also need to change to accommodate the increased scrutiny on auto-renewals. Certainly in the Time Inc. settlement, one of the main complaints was that consumers were supposedly misled by "solicitations that appeared to be invoices" without the "conspicuous disclosures required by law."
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In the magazine industry, oftentimes circulation is considered the ultimate barometer of success. But for circulation consultant Baird Davis, total circulation may not be the only way a magazine should measure its success. Davis says newsstand circulation is the key when considering how a magazine fares among its competitors. And newsstand-to-subscription ratio, Davis says, is one of the best ways to measure a magazine’s vitality. "It’s an important barometer of reader acceptability," Davis says of that ratio. "Newsstand sales are becoming increasingly important to advertisers. They zero in on not only how you’re doing not only on the newsstand, but also how you’re doing in comparison to your competitors and your previous benchmarks."
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