Affirming The Value Of ABC's Consolidated Media Report

Last month, the Audit Bureau of Circulations released its first Consolidated Media Report (CMR), a capsule summary of a business publication's print circulation, pass-along receivership and Web site activity in a single document. An onslaught of media coverage quickly followed, most of it critical of ABC and the new report. Frankly, I've been baffled at the amount of coverage this new report has generated. As the chair of ABC's Business Publications Buyers' Advisory Committee and one of the many advertisers who helped develop CMR, I think it's time to clear up some misconceptions and reinforce exactly what this report was intended to accomplish.

First of all, CMR is only available for business publications, a segment within the publishing industry with unique needs. Some in the newspaper industry who responded with near-instant criticism overlooked this point. Additionally, CMR is not a new audit service from ABC. The report simply pulls results from several ABC audit services and then combines the top-line data in a "Total Audience Reach" figure. Previously, publishers could report results from these additional ABC audit services on their publisher's statements, but the total figure was not available.



ABC never claimed the "Total Audience Reach" was an unduplicated or net figure. The report clearly states: "Gross audience data is contained in this Consolidated Media Report. There was no attempt to eliminate any duplication that may exist." CMR was never positioned as anything other than what it is: a way for business publication advertisers to view top-line data generated from several ABC audit reports in one convenient document. ABC is a forum of advertisers, advertising agencies and publishers and as such, no one group works independently of the others. We all saw value in CMR; otherwise the report would never have made it to the marketplace. Is it perfect? Far from it. But it is a good step forward for the B2B advertising market.

What most frustrates me about the criticism surrounding the CMR is the lack of alternate suggestions presented by the critics. As a forum, ABC is open to the opinions of all its members. I can assure you that CMR will be a topic of discussion at our upcoming committee meetings. I encourage anyone with suggestions to contact your constituency's committee members and voice your opinion and make suggestions.

As Elbert Hubbard once said, "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." Doing nothing is unacceptable to me. ABC and its B2B members chose to put a stake in the ground with CMR. As audience measurement and verification continue to evolve, so will ABC audits and reports. Whether or not CMR is the right solution remains to be seen. Regardless of the outcome, I'm convinced CMR was a first step in the right direction.

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