SBT Back on the Table with ABC
Same, unresolved issues still linger from last go-around six years ago.
Scan-based trading has been gaining more prominence as a cost-saving sales and distribution solution recently, and, at the request of two member publishers, its viability will be brought back into discussion with ABC’s Magazine Director’s Advisory Committee later this month.
And while SBT has been tweaked, developed and argued over between publishers, distributors, retailers and wholesalers during the intervening six years since it was last considered with some enthusiasm, the issue has largely remained dormant from ABC’s perspective. Accordingly, when the subject is raised at the next MDAC meeting, the committee plans to dust off the same, unresolved questions the auditing organization had when it was last brought into the fray.
“In the magazine world, this has sat silent for the last six years as far as ABC is concerned,” says Teresa Perry, SVP, publisher member audit and report processing services, at ABC. “And that’s not to say that the industry has not continued to develop and evolve toward accepting scan-based results, but ABC has not been involved in those conversations up to this time.”
According to Perry, ABC first convened discussions in earnest with the publishing community in 2002. Shortly after, the SBT discussion died a quick death. “It died very rapidly in 2002 and 2003. It just went into a black hole.”
Perry notes that at the time there were several different studies with divergent conclusions. The technology itself was having challenges with data accuracy, and the distribution market was in the middle of a massive consolidation. All of this, she says, contributed to the inability of SBT to gain traction in the magazine market.
Now, however, SBT is back on the table and ABC has been asked once again to contribute to the discussion. Yet Perry says the same questions the organization had in 2002 will re-emerge at this month’s meeting. Namely, how to address “shrinkage” (copies that don’t make the scan report because of human or equipment error), issue-by-issue coding, and what will happen in the event of a large-scale system failure. “What happens if retailers’ scan reports fall apart? There’s no back-up where we can go back to the draw-and-returns [system], that will be gone. Our next step is to throw these items back on the plate for the parties at hand and to start the conversation.”