ABC approves new testing, measurements at board meeting

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The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) board approved measures July 29 that are expected to help magazines and newspapers reduce costs and stay agile in the shifting print marketplace.

One ruling from the meeting allows consumer magazine to test new circulation marketing programs, such as partnerships, even though audit documentation rules have not been set for such programs. Results from these one-year tests would be reported as verified or analyzed non-paid.

In another move for magazines, business titles received approval to adopt a multimedia publisher's statement for the December 2008 reporting period. The optional report combines print circulation, Web site activity, e-newsletter activity and pass-alongs into a single statement. Business magazines also received approval to count Web site subscriptions as paid digital editions.

Newspapers also received approval to test a consolidated report showing print, online and audience data. These optional reports, which must be audited by ABC, will be available for testing in the September 2008 reporting period. Larger newspapers received new requirements for participation in ABC's Audience-FAX; tier one publications must use panel-based sources such as Nielsen Online or ComScore when reporting unique visitors to Web sites.

In response to the economic woes of many print titles, the board has approved a new audit billing model, designed to reduce audit costs. As of fiscal year 2009, ABC will charge a flat rate for field audit services, rather than the traditional hourly rate. Large metropolitan newspapers will be kept to the hourly billing model due to the complexity of their audits, the board explained; however, their rates will stay at the 2007 level.

“All of us at ABC recognize the challenging environment we operate in today,” Don Miceli, chairman of the ABC board and VP of global media resources at Kraft Foods, said in a statement. “We are committed to streamlining the audit process and reducing costs where we can to accommodate the needs of our members.”

Other board actions included the modification of Canadian newspaper rules and sanctioning of the Toronto Sun for audit discrepancies. The board also used the three-day meeting to elect five new directors: Irene Grieco, manager of media investment and strategic partnerships at Unilever US; Suzanne Silber, group director of strategy at OMD; Bill Stabile, senior director of brand and marketing communications at Siemens Corp.; Lindsay Valk, SVP of analysis and planning, consumer marketing, Hearst Magazines; and Brenda White, SVP, Starcom Worldwide.

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