If part or all of your job description includes marketing, you should know what an audit statement is, how it works and how it can protect your buy. Don’t throw your marketing dollars away without knowing what questions to ask and when to ask them.
Definition – An audit is when a media/publishing company hires a third party company to come in and verify the circulation and audience they claim to reach are both real and true.
Audit statements are most commonly associated with magazines and newspapers. Audit statements are not mandatory; each publisher has the choice to spend the money to have an audit performed on their business. The two industry leading audit organizations, ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) and BPA Worldwide provide a publisher with a statement that verifies the distribution and type of reader they reach.
One of the first marketing questions you should ask is if a magazine has an audit statement. If they do not, you as the buyer have no third-party verification that they are, in fact, mailing all the copies they claim to, nor do you have the assurance they are, in fact, reaching the audience they are claiming to reach. To mitigate the distribution question, feel free to ask the publication for a Canada Post mailing receipt. If they claim to mail 15,000 copies, then ask for a copy of the receipt from Canada Post that shows they mailed all 15,000 copies. This won’t show who received the copies (i.e. if they mailed all 15,000 to themselves), but will prove the distribution.
Example – For decades M&IT magazine has hired a third-party audit company to prove that we mail M&IT to 10,500 qualified meeting planners. We currently use ABC to audit M&IT twice a year. To view our December 2009 Audit Statement click here. The areas that you want to understand are:
(i) Section 3A. This section describes who the readers are. It can be by job classification or function. This proves that the publication reaches the prospects you are targeting.
(ii) Section 3B. This section shows not only that the publication is mailing all the copies they claim, but also show how they built their list. M&IT’s “total direct request” from either the individual or the company is 88.5 per cent meaning 9,298 meeting planners have requested to receive M&IT. Often the ‘business lists’ source is one of the largest components of a magazine’s circulation; meaning they are simply renting a list and mailing to it. Buyer Beware – There is no guarantee these rented lists are current and fresh and you have no way of checking or verifying that they are.
Conclusion – It is actually very easy to launch a magazine…and if times get tough a publisher without an audit can print and mail fewer copies saving thousands of dollars. An audit gives you the assurance that your marketing dollars are going into a publication that can unequivocally prove its reach and audience…and removes any questions of doubt about that publication.