Evaluating Magazines for Print Advertising

We are developing a media plan for 2011 and are evaluating trade magazines to advertise in. How important is it that magazines have a BPA or ABC audited circulation?

By Jennifer Manocchio

Many trade publications are audited by BPA or ABC and many are not. Auditing verifies the publication’s circulation and confirms the titles of the people reading the magazine. If publications are not audited, it simply means they did not want to pay a third party to verify the circulation.

There are two major auditing companies – Business Publications Audit of Circulations (BPA) and Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). Since audits are expensive, publications that conduct audits want to make that information easily available. You will usually find the audited statement in the media kit. If you cannot locate the BPA or ABC statement in the media kit or online, ask the sales representative if the publication is audited.

If a publication is not audited, you should not immediately disregard it. Audits are not the only aspect you should consider when purchasing advertising. Look to see if the publication is free or requires a subscription. Magazines with a subscription tend to be seen as more credible to a reader.

Also, research what competitors are advertising in the publication. If major industry players are advertising, then they likely see the publication as valuable. Pay attention to the quality of the editorial coverage. Look for articles that are well-written and not blatant advertisements. Most readers will recognize poor writing and biased reporting, which reduces the credibility of the magazine in the readers’ eyes.

Additionally, consider if the publication is for a professional society. If so, that publication will likely have a captive audience that respects the publication.

The only time we would recommend an audited publication over an un-audited publication is if all things were created equal (subscription required, good editorial coverage and competitors were advertising in the publication), and you had to chose between the two.

The bottom line is use the audits as a tool to confirm circulation numbers and reader’s titles, but don’t let it be the end all be all to your decision making when developing media plans.

Advertising in 2011 and need support developing your media plan and creating print and online advertisements? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

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