Media agencies accuse magazine industry of “lack of interest” in improving transparency

The magazine and newspaper industries have been accused by Australia’s media agencies of failing to take seriously their requests for greater transparency about sales.

The Media Federation of Australia held its AGM yesterday. In a report issued this morning, the MFA said that although some “slow” progress had been made with the newspaper industry over circulation information, the magazine sector had shown “a lack of interest”. It said:

“In terms of readership metrics, the MFA has continued to work collaboratively alongside The Newspaper Works throughout the tender process and shall continue to support the efforts of driving improved metrics in this area. Additionally there are representatives that participate in the Roy Morgan Readership forum to help evolve the existing system.

“However, in the area of circulation the response has been slow. Newspapers have encouragingly been working towards a possible solution, however the MFA and its members were clear in that continuing with 13 week rolling average figures reported on a monthly basis would not generate any benefits over the current reporting system. The biggest area of disappointment is the apparent lack of interest from the magazine sector. The MFA will continue to place the priority of its efforts with those sectors that have shown an appetite to increase audience data transparency and accuracy.

The MFA – which speaks for many of Australia’s media agencies – has been locked in a series of debates with media owners about greater transparency. The autorefresh debate in online has had the highest profile recently, but there have been long running discussions on newspapers and magazines.

In newspapers, the issues have included the attempt by the The Newspaper Works to create a readership currency to replace that provided by Roy Morgan Research. There have also been attempts to persuade newspapers to reveal individual sales for different days of the week. The potential downside of that for newspapers is losing advertising on the days that do most badly once that becomes clear.

There is also a similar case in magazines, where media agencies want to be able to tell how the issue that their ad appeared in fared, rather than seeing the average circulation across six months. However, magazine sales are highly dependent on cover choice, and publishers are reluctant to give too many clues to rivals on how a particular selection did on the newsstand. The magazine publishers also point out that while the MFA is continuing to demand a higher standard of accountability, its members continue to support some magazines which have no audit at all, or the less rigorous CAB audit.

None of the big three magazine publishers had accepted Mumbrella’s invitation to comment at the time of posting. However one indicated that it was in direct conversations with the Audit Bureau of Circulations over the issue rather than with the MFA.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.