Popularity of consolidated media brand reports grows
By Sean Callahan
This month American City Business Journals began offering media buyers the Consolidated Media Report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for 37 of its business newspapers. The CMR, a relatively new offering from ABC, measures the number of people the local business journals reach in print, via email newsletters, and through conferences and other forms of media.
Rob Fisher, senior VP at ACBJ, said the individual reports are being used to sell local advertisers. ACBJ is using a report combining all 37 to sell marketers looking for national reach.
BPA Worldwide pioneered multimedia reports on a media brand's audience in the late 1990s with its Integrated Media Report, the forerunner of what it now calls the Brand Report. The rise in prominence of the reports reflects the reality of the publishing industry's forays beyond print and into digital and in-person media.
FOCUS ON QUALITY
Additionally, these multimedia reports are part of publishers' efforts to set prices based on the quality of their audience rather than on a cost-per-thousand basis. The online display advertising market reached $11.1 billion last year, up 15% over 2010, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau figures.
BPA said 288 media brands will have Brand Reports for the January-June 2012 period, which is currently being audited. BPA released 56 Brand Reports for the audit period that ended in December 2011 and 29 for the period that ended in June 2011.
ABC said about 50 brands were using the CMR at the end of last year. The organization anticipates that figure will double by the end of this year. The CMR, introduced in 2009, was originally known as the Multimedia Publisher's Statement.
“The BPA were pioneers in this and recognized the value of integrated campaigns early on,” said Neil Stiles, president of Variety, which left ABC last year to join BPA and use the Brand Report. “They then sought to measure it. The first mover is usually the trendsetter.”
Both the Brand Report and CMR are responses to the trend of media companies delivering their content in a variety of formats, primarily print, digital and events. “People want to consume information in different ways, and so having a good line of sight of a brand's overall reach is very helpful,” Stiles said.
Stamats Inc. is another publisher using the Brand Report. Tony Dellamaria, VP-e-media and publishing in the Stamats Commercial Buildings Group, said many media buyers are not yet familiar with the product.
“Being an early user of the brand audit has put the burden [on us] of educating our customers as to what a brand audit is and its importance in their marketing decision-making,” Dellamaria said. “That said, the effort has paid off significantly, particularly with the media channels where our competitors don't provide third-party validation.”
Media buyers who are aware of the Brand Report and CMR applaud their availability. “We're no longer looking at media within the silos of print and digital,” said Caroline Riby, media director at Roberts Communications. “We're looking at media as an extension of the brand name.”
FIRST STEP IN TRANSPARENCY
The Economist began using the CMR earlier this year. Paul Rossi, managing director-exec VP, Americas, for the publication, said, “The response [from media buyers] has been, "This is great, but we want more.' This isn't perfect, but it's the first step in transparency.”
In its CMR, The Economist measures its print and digital paid subscribers (893,208); unique downloads of its app (255,825); average subscription price ($105.11); page views (14.9 million); monthly unique visitors (3.6 million) and Twitter followers (2.3 million).
“Increasingly, we are being asked by marketers to put together solutions that access all of our reach,” Rossi said. He added that print requests for proposals have been flat so far this year compared with last year, but multimedia RFPs are up 30%.
ACBJ's Fisher said 45% of the company's total audience is in print, while 55% is reached via email, websites, events and other media.
Media brands see these multimedia reports as a means to focus on the quality of their audience (particularly their online audience) rather than the quantity of that audience. The goal is to avoid selling on a CPM basis, which many publishers view as a race to the bottom.
Fisher, for example, prefers to sell sponsorships. “It's not sold on CPMs or clicks,” he said. “It's a fixed dollar amount. We don't want to do business on a CPM basis. We want to focus on our highly qualified, quality audience.”