BPA Outlines 'Per-Issue' Magazine Circulation Plan

A more timely and effective system of circulation reporting is essential to print media if it wants to stay competitive with other advertising platforms, said the head of circulation auditor BPA Worldwide last week, a day after the company unveiled plans to deliver statements on a "per-issue" basis.

"Print media is much more accountable than broadcast (in reporting figures), but while it is more measured, it's not on a more timely basis," BPA CEO Glenn Hansen told MediaDailyNews.

In response to frustration among media buyers over the long lag time involved in getting magazine circulation data, the BPA said its Frequency of Reporting Task Force (FRTF) has recommended a new process that would make circulation data available for each issue of a magazine, as opposed to the current twice-yearly method.

The so-called "top-line" circulation data would consist of both paid and non-paid qualified subscription copies and single copies, taking into account the appropriate subtotals and overall qualified paid/non-paid total.



The BPA task force is in the process of developing a specific reporting model, which would in turn be reviewed by media buyers and advertisers. The model would then be beta-tested by a group of BPA consumer titles.

The new reporting model would create an online tool whereby circulators could plug in circulation information that would then be uploaded and posted on BPA's Web site.

"This gap has to close on the ability to get final sales figures, and that requires working with technology on the distributor and wholesaler level," said Hansen. "We would hope that it would lead to more advertising spend through print's ability to demonstrate that it is delivering to its target audience in a more timely fashion."

In another development in the highly competitive world of print circulation numbers last week, Time Inc.--the nation's largest publisher of consumer magazines--was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York to provide information about the industry's circulation practices. The disclosure comes at a time when advertisers and agencies are questioning the validity of audience circulation statements following a series of scandals and misstatements among major newspapers, and at least one major magazine.

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