The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has undergone a redesign that, says vice chairperson, Gordon Patterson, is the result of five years of ‘internal focus’. The quiet ‘revolution’ within the ABC has seen the organisation take on a new look and feel, literally and figuratively.
“There hasn’t just been the evolving of the rules, but also the rationale behind the ABC. Transparency remains central to the ABC, but so does creativity. We’ve shown that both can co-habit within the organisation,” says Patterson.
The figurative changes led to literal changes, and these are reflected in a new logo and marketing material. “The logo is seamless,” says Patterson. “It flows. There’s an important, subtle change in the acronym too: It’s not just the Audit Bureau of Circulations; it is also Accurate, Believable and Consistent.”
Unpacking that concept, Patterson explains that the ABC inspires confidence with it accuracy. As the marketing material says, it is “democracy in print”. It’s figures are believable, based on rules and a strict auditing process. And its consistency mean figures can be compared over time to give information on trends that is invaluable to its members.
“We’re reached several milestones over the last few years,” says Patterson. “We’ve increased access to the ABC. We’ve made planning tools available. We’ve assisted in growing and developing the various categories rather than restricting them. We’ve rewritten the rules and developed digital copies. We’ve increased frequency of reporting to four times a year. We’ve introduced full disclosure and helped ease the reporting mechanisms.”
Patterson says it’s a “critical” time for the advertising industry right now and that circulation numbers are vital in giving a complete perspective on readership of various titles. “The ABC believes readership and circulation are equally important, that they complement each other,” he says. “Circulation measures the health of a publication. It’s a pure measure, the vote of the people. Readership is used in the selection process.
“So from the perspective of the media agencies, there’s a growing feeling that value should be measured at the time of exposure. Knowing which publication is going where, in terms of readership and circulation, helps the negotiation process You’re not going to give a 20% discount on a publication that is declining at 30%. Just as a stockbroker would do. In that sense, the ABC adds real value to the revolution that is taking place,” he says.
The ABC has also launched a full on marketing campaign, reinvigorating its marketing materials and creating digital content too. Patterson says a Z-fold brochure can be distributed through different channels from print inserts to the digital environment. A fully digital version is available too, created by digital content masters, Twisted Toast.
The ABC has been going for 65 years. A non-profit company, it represents advertisers and marketers, advertising agencies and publishers. As Howard Fox, marketing director at GIBS says, “Publications that belong to the ABC have preference on media schedules because marketing decision makers can always rely on the accuracy and timeliness of their circulation information.”