Audit transparency helps ensure ROI

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Audit transparency helps ensure ROI
Audit transparency helps ensure ROI

The cost of creating and maintaining a current and quality database has never been cheap. But does an investment in currency and quality translate to increased lead generation? We think, logically, yes — and we may have the answer soon.

Over the past 18 months, while more than 300 magazines have signed up for audit, more than 700 titles have dropped audit. A third of those have ceased completely. Sometime around mid-year, BPA will be reporting the survival rate, just as we will report on the success of those who have moved beyond measuring only print and now audit the extent of their brand across all content channels.

I am told in some vertical markets where the buying is being done direct without the aid of agency media planning, the advertiser is no longer demanding the accountability of an audit and the publisher cannot sell more effectively with its transparency. Does this mean publishers are choosing to allow quality to slip? What would that mean for lead generation?

There's lots for advertisers to consider here. Given the current market conditions, media buyers are being held more accountable for ad spend, not less. Logic dictates that a flight from quality will impact response to advertising. Lowering database spend can last only so long. What will be needed to restore quality to its pre-2009 level? The drop of audit has typically been seen as a significant event. Will the market respond?

Here's the big question: Upon learning that media owners have dropped their audit, why are advertisers not crying foul to all who will listen? Without a quality database, won't readership drop and response drop further? Ultimately, the database will be worthless.

I believe that if media buyers and advertisers truly recognize what is happening in the marketplace, unaudited media will see far less ad spend and are more likely to fold. Additionally, when media owners provide audited usage data that encompasses their entire brand—print, online and face-to-face — advertisers will flock to them.

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