4As To MPA: Beef Up Digital Mag Metrics, Procedures

Citing the "need for greater transparency and accountability with digital offerings" among magazine brands including tablets, the 4A’s Print Media Committee has called on the MPA (Association of Magazine Media) to consider new recommendations on metrics and procedures for reporting the audiences of digital editions.

In a letter sent to the MPA this week, the committee acknowledged the magazine trade group's recent voluntary guidelines for digital extensions, but called for additional procedures "to obtain better metrics that would allow advertisers to more effectively participate in the opportunities provided by the new digital offerings," including:

• We think there is valuable insight that can be gleaned by breaking out tablet audience metrics by subscription and single copy sales. Additionally, we would like to see subscriber data separated between tablet readers who authenticate their print subscriptions vs. readers who purchase a subscription directly on their tablet device.



• In order to gain wide-spread acceptance of tablet metrics and endorsement from advertisers, there’s need for an accredited, third-party research vendor for measuring readership across these new devices. Further, the data needs to be reported in a consistent template across all publishing companies.

• In order for us to effectively measure “total magazine Brand” delivery, it’s critical for us to assess unduplicated readers on tablet devices vs. web sites or print editions. At the very least, we should also receive basic demographic information such as: male/female split, age and median household income.

• We believe it’s important for our clients to test and learn from creative that’s customized for the tablet space. Therefore, it’s important that engagement metrics include, at minimum, average time spent with “enhanced” ads such as video, slideshows, etc. In addition, we will need data on actions taken when readers engage with links and hot spots.

• Currently, some magazines are using digital circulation to meet overall ratebase guarantees. While we applaud magazines’ efforts to grow their digital circulation, some advertisers (e.g. certain pharmaceutical companies, scent seal advertisers, etc.) are not willing or able to run their advertising in digital editions, yet they are being charged for this portion of the circulation. Those advertisers should not be charged for circulation they are not purchasing. Magazines should establish a print ratebase and a digital ratebase, which will give advertisers the flexibility to purchase the circulation they desire.

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