The transition to digital media has forced media audit organizations, once the key guarantors of media transparency and accountability in the age of print, to make a challenging transition of their own — adding a laundry list of new digital metrics covering the Web, apps, and more.
But even organizations that manage to keep pace with these fast-changing trends are in danger of extinction.
That’s the message from Down Under, where all Australia’s major magazine publishers have withdrawn from the Audited Media Association of Australia, spelling the effective demise of the audit organization, according to Mumbrella, which covers the Aussie media industry.
The AAMA was formed in 2013 by the merger of two previously independent media audit organizations focused on magazines, the Audit Bureau of Circulations and the Circulations Audit Board.
This week, Pacific Magazines, which publishes the Australian edition of Better Homes & Gardens, among other big titles, announced it was withdrawing from the organization. It joins Bauer Media, which announced its withdrawal last week, and News Corp.’s NewsLifeMedia, which withdrew on Monday.
Fairfax Media, which publishes a number of big newspapers and magazines, began the exodus in August.
The publishers have justified these moves by arguing the AMAA’s data isn’t fully representative of their cross-platform reach.
Thus Gereurd Roberts, CEO at Pacific Magazines, stated: “Our brands have transformed, and so too have our partner expectations. We’re being asked to deliver more granular, audience-based, cross-platform measures that better reflect how consumers interact with our brands, and the integrated solutions our clients require.
"The AMAA is a highly-regarded organization and has been a valuable partner, however the circulation metric is no longer representative of our multifaceted audiences, or our multifaceted offering. Given the withdrawal of the other major publishers, it s no longer representative of our industry.”
Instead of AMAA figures, Aussie publishers indicated they would rely more on custom research from firms like Ipsos EMMA, according to Mumbrella.
However, skeptics note that by ditching the AMAA, publishers also muzzle one of the main sources of data showing the continuing decline of their print circulations – a steady drumbeat of bad news most would prefer silenced.In that regard, it’s reminiscent of the decisions by big media industry organizations in the U.S., including the Newspaper Association of America, Publishers Information Bureau and Radio Advertising Bureau, to stop publicizing ad revenue figures over the last few years.
The basic idea seems to be: if you don’t talk about it, maybe nobody will realize it’s happening. Chalk it up to wishful thinking.