Magazines' New Rules for Counting Digital Sales

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

IPad Editions No Longer Need to Include Every Print Ad to Count Toward Circulation Guarantees

Ad Age, 3/22/11

Magazines can now count iPad and other digital-edition sales toward their paid-circulation guarantees even if those digital versions don’t include the ads they carried in print, according to a new rule adopted by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the dominant arbiter of circulation for consumer magazines and newspapers.

That will let publishers take credit for their success on new platforms but means more work for media buyers, whose ads will increasingly appear in only a portion of each magazine’s paid circulation count. “If the digital editions don’t carry the same ads, then what is the purpose for me as an advertiser for the counting?” said Audrey Siegel, president and director of client services at TargetCast, an independent media agency.

Magazines’ tablet circulation remains so small that this move could have waited for more discussion on new best practices, Ms. Siegel said. “I don’t think it’s the right time to make this change because I don’t think that it is meaningful to anyone at this moment,” she said. “It will be confusing and continue to make the print medium look like it’s scrambling for circulation rather than taking a thoughtful approach to figuring out how to articulate the value of the tablet or the digital edition.”

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