IT WAS up to advertisers and marketers to ensure they used core circulation figures from print media to determine market penetration rather than total figures, which included discounted publications, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has said, writes Chantelle Benjamin in Business Day.

The ABC was responding to a heated debate between media organisations and the advertising industry about the decision to include circulation figures of publications sold at less than 50% of the cover price.

Advertisers say this artificially inflates circulation figures, making it difficult for advertisers to know if they are placing adverts in the correct publication for their clients, but the ABC says it does not have the mandate to dictate the cover price of publications.

The Advertising Media Association of SA (Amasa) told ABC president and Caxton MD Gordon Utian and ABC vice-president Gordon Patterson on Wednesday night that it was frustrated and angry about the ABC’s 50% rule.

“Agencies do not have time to delve into figures and try to work out which ones are real figures,” said Virginia Hollis, joint MD of MediaShop. “Publishers need to be honest with advertisers.”

She went on to say that less experienced advertisers and marketers might not realise that the total circulation figure included publications sold at less than 50% of the cover price and thus would place advertising where it would not have maximum effect.

Hollis appealed to Amasa to educate its members on the new rule. Utian said the ABC figures made a distinction between the two circulation figures and it was up to marketers and advertisers to ensure they were looking at core circulation figures.

“If the circulation figure increases suddenly then you know something is wrong,” he said.

The ABC is charged with verifying the circulation figures of newspapers and magazines, which assist advertisers in deciding where they want to place adverts for their clients.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.