Mag Bag: How Does Meredith's ROI Guarantee Work?


Magazine print advertising could use a shot in the arm, and Meredith Corp. is aiming to deliver a big one with its new ROI guarantee, called Meredith Dividend Engagement -- a pioneering effort to demonstrate accountability by linking magazine advertising to actual product sales.

Meredith Dividend Engagement does this with data from Nielsen's Homescan, a national consumer panel of 100,000 individuals who agree to allow Nielsen to track all their product purchases.

According to Britta Ware, Meredith's vice president for research solutions, Nielsen initially approached Meredith a year ago with the idea of linking magazine ads to actual sales through Homescan, using an analytic approach that was first applied to digital advertising by Yahoo with Consumer Direct.

That's important, Ware noted, because it means "it's already understood by marketers" that are familiar with (and presumably trust) the methodology on that basis. At the same time, it goes beyond other common types of measurement for magazine advertising like brand perception, purchase intent, and so on, which are often considered proxies for actual sales.



Essentially, the Meredith ROI guarantee rests on comparisons of two groups of panelists drawn from Nielsen Homescan, which are identical in most respects, including demographic and income attributes, with just one difference. One group of panelists subscribes to Meredith titles, and another (the control group) doesn't. Product purchases by the two groups are then compared, allowing Meredith to connect advertising to sales lift.

Meredith's ROI guarantee is just that -- a guarantee, namely that advertising in Meredith titles will result in a certain amount of sales lift, with a promise to make up any shortfall through additional print advertising.

Because this involves taking on some risk, Dick Porter, Meredith's newly appointed president of media sales, said the publisher will limit the program to 10 big deals with major advertisers in the first phase, although other advertisers are welcome to use the basic methodology for tracking ad sales lift.

While Nielsen Homescan data is only applicable to certain categories which happen to be endemic to Meredith titles, including CPG, food, household goods, and OTC drugs, Ware said Meredith is working on identifying data sources that would allow similar analyses and guarantees in other categories like automotive and prescription drugs.

Game Pro Goes Quarterly

Game Pro Magazine is moving from a monthly to a quarterly publication schedule, the 22-year-old video game consumer guide announced this week. Game Pro will be published on a quarterly schedule beginning with its Winter 2011 issue, which is set to hit newsstands on Nov. 8.

As a quarterly publication, selling for $9.99, it will have more pages per issue and will also get a larger page size. The redesign aims to make it a "coffee table"-style magazine. Future quarterly issues will hit the newsstands during the peak game-buying months of March, June and September.

Gumbley to Parenting Group

Heather Gumbley is joining Bonnier Corp.'s Parenting Group as associate publisher for marketing, with responsibility for Parenting, Babytalk and She previously served as executive director of creative services for Condé Nast's Fairchild Fashion Group, where she oversaw an integrated marketing team responsible for Women's Wear Daily and Fairchild's other trade publications dealing with the worlds of fashion, retail, and beauty.

Pera, Conley Join Town & Country

Town & Country announced two new appointments this week. Sophie Pera was named fashion market editor, replacing Amanda Weitzman, effective August 22, while Kevin Conley has been named arts editor, replacing Michael Callahan. Previously, Pera had served as associate fashion editor at Vogue. Conley had been working as a freelancer for Town & Country for several months; previously he was an editor and writer for The New Yorker and wrote a book about horse racing titled "Stud."

Portwood Joins Out

Jerry Portwood is leaving his position as editor in chief of New York Press to join Out as managing editor. He will also be involved in long-term editorial planning, working with his editorial staff on features and special edit packages.

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