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Media buyers divided on News Corp’s pull from AMAA audit

News Corp’s decision to pull out of the Audited Media Association of Australia’s audit has divided media agencies, with some claiming not to have been consulted in News Corp’s “extensive review”, while others have called into question the publisher’s commitment to transparency.

The global media giant – which runs mastheads such as The Australian, The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph – announced yesterday it would withdraw from the AMAA circulation audit, with Enhanced Media Metrics Australia (EMMA) to provide audience data.

At the time of the announcement, News Corp said the decision had come following an extensive review with more than 100 advertisers and agencies. But the publisher declined to divulge to Mumbrella which agencies reviewed while a number of agencies, who prefer to remain anonymous, claim to have been excluded from the process.

Nunn Media’s managing director Chris Walton confirmed: “I was not approached and to my knowledge neither were any of our clients in Sydney.”

News Corp responded to the claims: “There were high level and confidential conversations.”

Other media agencies told Mumbrella readership data was important and the removal from the circulation is a step back from transparency.

Mike Wilson, CEO of Havas Media 

“While readership surveys will still deliver the main metric for price comparison, the audit always gave agencies and clients a point of comparison by which to lend credence to the claimed readership numbers.

“It is probably fair to say that if methodologies don’t change, then the readership numbers should still reflect a consistent approach to audience delivery over time regardless of the audit. However, we feel that abandoning the circulation audit altogether may mean lower confidence levels in the printed product and potentially contribute to continued declines in revenue.”

Mark Coad, CEO, PHD

“Not really surprised by this move at all. As we’ve said all along – the industry (or specifically PHD as I can talk on behalf of) have always been far more interested in the audiences reading rather than the quantity of units distributed. We care about the number, quality and types of audiences that can be reached – and the more accurately we can measure those metrics, the better. Put simply EMMA and AAMA measure different things, and some of those things are more relevant to us than others.”

Chris Walton, managing director, Nunn Media

“I think it’s a ridiculous decision. Yes Emma is one metric and circulation is another metric. You do not use the two in isolation and you need both of them. Arguably the circulation is more important for newspapers than magazines. I don’t understand some of the relationships that I’m seeing between readership and circulation. Are we to believe Australians are getting more generous in recent years and sharing newspapers around more and more because the relationship between circulation and readerships has been changing in recent years?

“Everyone tries to compare readership with OzTam and also saying we don’t count the number of TV’s sold when appraising TV ads.  Firstly readership is a claimed metric, thereby flawed at the outset and in need of support, and secondly you don’t need to buy a TV every time you need to consume TV or see ads.”

Tom Rankin, general manager of media, 303MullenLowe

“The less metrics we have for judging the success or failure of a print title, the worse off we are as an industry. Pulling out of audits that confirm paid circulation moves us further away from transparency.”

The Audited Media Association of Australia has also responded to News Corp’s decision to withdraw from the audit, asking the industry to consider the value of independent governance and validation.

Josanne Ryan, CEO of the AMAA said in a statement: “Is this a signal that the Australian industry accepts less transparency on industry media metrics and adherence to best practice? We hope not.

“Likewise, we hope this is not a shift away from industry managed self-regulation and the benefits of not-for-profit third party independent validation.

“The AMAA continues to call on the industry to consider the role of independent governance and validation as a vital resource that sits at the core of accountable media trading,” she said.

Similarly, Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research, said there was a need for an independent research body to measure media.

“I’m sure the AMAA will be described as unnecessary expenditure. But it comes at a time when advertisers and their agencies are crying out for truth and accuracy in measurement,” Levine told Mumbrella.

“The time for media and their  industry bodies (OzTAM, EMMA etc) measuring themselves is fast drawing to an end.

“The confluence of digital media, outdoor, direct, point of sale and traditional media means more than ever advertisers and their agencies want , and need, a single source of truth – not media’s own claims or industry’s own claims.”

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