US Magazines now able to count digital editions to their circulation

AdAge reports that the US’s Audit Bureau of Circulations is now allowing magazine publishers to count “digital edition” sales, which includes the iPad formats, of their titles towards their paid circulation, even if these editions don’t carry or include the same advertising from their print editions.

The only caveat to this it seems is that publishers must offer the option to its print advertisers to be included in their digital editions.

This effectively means that the early sponsorship models for iPad editions won’t work anymore for publishers who want to include their iPad editions into their circulation count. It also means that publishers will have to quickly move from an in-built, self hosted ad model to engaging a third party in-app ad server.

There seems to be some criticisms on the change:

Magazines’ tablet circulation remains so small that this move could have waited for more discussion on new best practices, Ms. Siegel said. “I don’t think it’s the right time to make this change because I don’t think that it is meaningful to anyone at this moment,” she said. “It will be confusing and continue to make the print medium look like it’s scrambling for circulation rather than taking a thoughtful approach to figuring out how to articulate the value of the tablet or the digital edition.”

So as in all things, it’s not so much the idea of it that’s flawed, but the execution.

I too agree that traditional audience measurement for media needs to evolve, but this looks like a rushed approach to catch up in the short term that hasn’t taken into account long term repurcussions.

In addition to that, I’m not sure I’m fond of the idea that one rule change in circulation measurement having such a huge impact on an ad-model (app sponsorship).  Shouldn’t the measurement follow where and how the money is made rather than the other way around?

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