Death blow seen for audit service as Pacific Magazines withdraws from AMA of Australia
Morning Brief: The digital magazine TRVL gets its first app update in over two years following the acquisition of its digital publishing platform ‘Prss’ by Apple
The third major magazine publisher today withdrew from the Audited Media Association of Australia as Pacific Magazines joined Bauer Media and News Corp’s magazine division NewsLifeMedia in opting out of auditing their titles. The move is sure to send shivers through the halls of other audit services across the globe.
“Our brands have transformed and so too have our partner expectations. We’re being asked to deliver more granular, audience-based, cross- platform measures that better reflect how consumers interact with our brands, and the integrated solutions our clients require,” CEO Gereurd Roberts said in a statemenet.
“The AMAA is a highly-regarded organisation and has been a valuable partner, however the circulation metric is no longer representative of our multi-faceted audiences, or our multi-faceted offering, and given the withdrawal of the other major publishers, is no longer representative of our industry.”
The move is in line with similar moves made by the MPA in the US, which has deemphasized traditional measurement services such as ad page counts, for audience reports which have consistently show huge increases in audience growth, as well as chuckles from those inside and outside the industry as Trump-like exaggerations of the truth.
Audited circulation is the one differentiator between the wild west nature of online audience reporting and print media. But maintaining rate bases has been costly and rather than show decreases in print magazine audiences, many publishers would prefer to simply make up their own reports that are intended to show total audience, including the web.
The problem is that the moves are rather transparent. There is nothing stopping a publisher from producing their own audience reports, but having an audit service produce a third party report means having to adhere to certain rules that give those reports credibility.
Possibly seeing the writing on the wall, AMAA CEO Josanne Ryan wrote in November about the issue of audit reports.
“Our industry is constantly engaged in discussions about accountability, transparency and metrics that can be trusted in ad trading. There has also been the odd report about the audit body, the AMAA, its current industry role and dare I say, its potential demise as the print channel declines,” Ryan said.
“At the recent AANA RESET conference, Lindsay Pattison, CEO of Maxus Worldwide spoke about how accountability matters and stated that we “can’t mark our own homework”. But isn’t that what we are in danger of doing in this market?”
The wheels began to come off the AMA’s bus in August when Fairfax announced they would leave the audit bureau. News Corp’s managing director of metro regional publishing told The Australian at that time this called into question the whole idea of auditing print. “The reality is that media buyers and advertisers aren’t interested in circulation. They plan media based on the audience that reads a paper, not the number of papers printed,” Damian Eales said.
The argument is an old one, whether printed copies are the thing to be measured, or readership of those printed copies. But publishers are free to have separate audience reports that measure pass along and other factors, but those reports would possibly conflict with the audit reports showing actual paid circulation. So what to do? In Australia, at least, the answer appears to be to dump the audit reports.
When one magazine is shuttered it causes concern for members of the industry and the readers of the title. But when a whole company goes under its effect is far greater. That is certainly true of Team Rock, the start-up publisher which acquired music magazines from Future plc as a way of helping it promote its digital radio service. The business model did not work at earlier this week work leaked that the company had gone into receivership – or administration as they say in the UK – it went bankrupt, to put it more bluntly.
Today, those in charge of the management of assets finally published word on the Team Rock website.
Thomas Campbell MacLennan, Alexander Iain Fraser and Jason Daniel Baker of FRP Advisory LLP were appointed as Joint Administrators of Team Rock Limited (“the Company”) on 19 December 2016.
The affairs, business and property of the Company are being managed by the Joint Administrators, who act as agents of the Company and without personal liability.
The Company is being managed on a care and maintenance basis only whilst a buyer for the assets is sought. Accordingly, the TeamRock website will be unavailable for the foreseeable future.
The administrators are assessing the position regarding publication of magazines. If you are a subscriber to the Company’s publications the administrators can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A total of 27 staff in High Blantyre and 46 in London have been made redundant, with Administrators at FRP Advisory now seeking buyers for the titles and assets.
Orange Goblin frontman Ben Ward has launched a Crowdfunding campaign to help those who have lost their jobs.
“Today, 73 members of the Team Rock staff were told that the company is going into liquidation and that they are being made redundant with immediate effect with ZERO pay,” he said in a statement. “These are good, hard-working, committed people that through Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Prog Rock, TeamRock Radio and more, have supported the rock and heavy metal scene in this country for decades and now we, the rock community, need to pull together to help give something back.”
A number of media app updates have appeared this week, most of them minor bug fix updates.
But the big one, though I wonder whether it will mean as much today as it would have a few years ago, was for TRVL.
TRVL, if you recall, was the groundbreaking digital magazine created by co-founders Jochem Wijnands and Michel Elings. The digital-only title offered weekly travel photography features, first using the WoodWing platform, then later on its own platform. That platform, Prss, was sold to Apple in a move that was really an acquihire as the co-founders then worked with Apple on the Apple News format.
Meanwhile, because Apple now owned Prss, the TRVL app was stuck in a sort of limbo, where the app could not be updated.
But Wijnands has returned to TRVL and is attempting to evolve the company from a digital magazine only into a peer-to-peer travel booking platform. But first, the app needed to be updated. That update came this week:
TRVL has been rebuilt from the ground up, check it out!
* Searchable library of 5000+ travel stories
* Interactive map to discover new destinations
* Photo & Video of the Day
* 4 new travel stories published daily
“We are still publishing, but we are not publishing for the broader audience, where you don’t know who you are going to reach. We are very specifically writing content to make TRVL agents more comfortable when they do their bookings. We are writing content about the neighborhoods,” Wijnands told TNM in September, adding that “the content experience will always be part who we are.”