Media Matters | Why Agencies Need Audited Circulation for Business-to-Business Media

With increasingly more advertisers seeking higher levels of advertising accountability as a media planning “best practice,” it is important to evaluate business/trade publications on the basis of their audited circulation.

While a good majority of publications are audited, a number of publications elect to ignore the importance of having their circulations audited by either BPA, ABC or other established auditing companies. Additionally, there are industry categories where all, or many, of the publications serving a segment of the market are not audited. The importance of this third-party insight can provide revealing details and data needed to make informed decisions.

To emphasize this point, “buysafemedia” is an industry-wide initiative supported by 12 major marketing and business associations, including the 4A’s, which is focused on the importance of selecting audited publications for a media plan. The program targets client-side buyers of media, who unknowingly may have put their advertising investments at risk by selecting unverified media. Details and a short, award-winning video are at

Audit statements are the best way to evaluate a publication’s circulation integrity, vitality and relevance to a particular target segment. Audits reveal circulation type, qualification source and age, subscription sales, price and channel—all valuable for insight in terms of several media planning metrics. In addition to integrity and vitality metrics, an audit statement can detail distribution of circulation by industry segment, function/title, company size and more, and offer a valuable way to compare and contrast publications serving a particular category segment, and how they are reaching that segment.

When building a list of possible publications to evaluate for a client or market segment, media professionals should always flag audited versus non-audited books within a plan. With audited publications, the planner can then evaluate the appropriate criteria relevant to their clients’ needs and make stronger, fact-based recommendations. Non-audited publications should be used with caution and only in supportive roles, if necessary, with measures taken within to distinguish and give preference to audited over non-audited books.

The AAAA Business-to-Business Media Committee strongly encourages media professionals to challenge publishers for the need to have their publication’s circulation audited.