In this opinion piece, Chris Bland, publisher at Monkey Media, says before asking all the obvious questions, there’s one which needs to be answered.
There are plenty of questions a marketer should ask before booking an ad. Some of the most obvious are questions like ‘who reads the magazine?’, ‘what features do you have?’ and of course ‘how much will it cost me to advertise?’. But there is one question even more important, and it should be the first question you ask; “Is your magazine circulation independently audited?”
Because if the answer to that question is no, then the answers to all the others are meaningless.
Who reads the magazine: quite possibly nobody!
What features do you have: it doesn’t matter!
How much: if it’s more than $0, it’s too much!
There is one official body in Australia that does all independent audits, the Audited Media Association of Australia, also known as the CAB or ABC. This organisation independently scrutinises the circulation claims of publishers, making sure the rigorous rules and standards set by the industry are met.
Publishers demonstrate their integrity to their advertisers by their willingness to be independently audited and to meet industry standards.
While professional marketers are usually familiar with circulation audits, often the person responsible for marketing a smaller trade or niche company has not come across the concept before and isn’t sure where to start.
A great place to start is the Quick Find portal, a website where anyone can register for free to double check any publication’s figures.
If a publication you are thinking about advertising in isn’t listed on the portal it means it isn’t being audited. By handing over your advertising dollars to them, you are opening yourself up to being scammed.
While not all unaudited magazines are scams, all scams are unaudited so the safest way to avoid being scammed is to avoid unaudited magazines altogether.
Often unaudited magazines can be quite convincing. They will produce an actual magazine but it is likely to have a tiny print run that is distributed freely to advertisers and perhaps to exhibitors at a trade show. The publishers may boast thousands on their subscription list but without anyone checking, how do you trust their claim?
From a publisher’s perspective, getting audited is a fairly simple and cost effective process, so there’s really no excuse for not doing it – unless, of course, you have something to hide.