Below we have summarized new rule amendments passed by BPA’s Board of Directors at their May 2013 meeting.
Unless otherwise specified, all changes will be in effect with the June 2013 reporting period.
The BPA Rule Amendments may be accessed as of July 1st through the “Rules” link on the BPA home page, or by clicking here. If you wish to comment on any of the initiatives or rule amendments, please use the “COMMENTS” section below this post. If you prefer, please contact your BPA Member Relations Manager, or any of our audit staff, with any questions.
Board Actions Applying to Business and Consumer Members
BPA Brand Report Formats: Media owners have been reporting the full scope of their audience touch points on BPA Brand Reports since December 2009. With over 300 members now using the Brand Report, BPA staff and Board decided it was time to give the report a more contemporary and modern look while at the same time transitioning away from its traditional circulation statements. Utilizing input and guidance from media owners, media buyers, agencies and graphic design artists, BPA has developed a report that has a cleaner and more contemporary look and feel. The new and improved Brand Report will feature more color throughout along with media channel icons across page one for easy reference to top line data. The new format will take effect for the period ending December 2013.
Further, in a nod toward BPA’s iconic green and pink circulation reports and to assist media buyers with their analyses, those Brand Reports with b-to-b publications serving as the “anchor channel” will feature a green-bordered cover page, while consumer-based reports will feature pink borders.
But the reformatting of the Brand Report did not stop with aesthetics. During its initial development, there was significant debate over the value of reporting the sum of all media channels on the Brand Report. Some saw value in reporting the “total footprint” or “grand total” of the brand, while others argued the sum of disparate media channels, with no attempt to identify unique individuals, provided no additional value to media buyers and advertisers.
Today, recognizing significant input and anecdotal results from both media owners and buyers, the Board concluded that the sum of all media channels does not add value to the media buy as originally believed, and, in fact, has caused some general confusion in the marketplace over what the grand total number actually represents. As a result, the total audience figure will be removed from future Brand Reports; however, a total for each media channel may still be reported. Additionally, after July 1st, a redesign of our online report library includes removing the “Average Qualified Circulation” figure that had been shown for each title on a search results page. All other data remains, but the user must select a document to view the numbers reported.
Moving forward, we will search for solutions to provide the next generation of metrics crucial to the advertising and marketing ecosystem. Your input is greatly encouraged and appreciated.
The Board also announced that all BPA business and consumer members will transition to the Brand format effective with the December 2013 reporting period. Those media owners reporting one channel on their current statements will move to the single-channel Brand Report with the opportunity to add more channels for future reporting periods. BPA’s traditional circulation statements will no longer be offered.
Statement Comparisons/Publicity: Recognizing that statements and/or audit reports from similar time frames have not always been immediately available when media owners are preparing comparative sales material, the Board voted to allow media owners to make data comparisons using the most recently released reports even though these may be for differing reporting periods. This change will eliminate the frustration of media owners waiting for competitive statements on which to prepare promotional material. The rule change will also pave the way for BPA’s automated Brand Comparison Tool, which is scheduled to launch on August 30th. (Watch for a separate communication on this coming shortly.)
Telecommunication: Direct Request: Paragraph 3b/5, source and age, continues to evolve with the industry. Written request continues to decline, telemarketing continues to rise and use of electronic sources has leveled off. For controlled publications, telemarketing has become the most effective source. However, within many market categories, media owners are finding it difficult to reach the primary subscriber by phone.
Historically, BPA has allowed the subscriber’s spouse or authorized assistant (secretary, administrative assistant, support personnel) to make a request for the publication on a subscriber’s behalf, but supervisors, peers or subordinates may not. Such transactions have been reported as “company request.”
Audience development managers have argued that the supervisor is often in a better position to make a request for the subscriber than an administrative support person. After securing assurance from the USPS (US Postal Service) and DCH (Department of Canadian Heritage) that this proposal would not affect media owners’ postal status or request circulation funding, the BPA Board expanded the rule to allow a supervisor or assistant to make a direct request for a qualified recipient. Peer and subordinate requests shall continue to be reported as “company request.”
Since the inception of the rule in January 2008, BPA remains the only independent audit organization globally to require the recording of subscriber solicitations. The BPA Board and staff are steadfast that the recording rule serves the best interests of the industry by demonstrating beyond any doubt that telemarketing is a source that deserves to stand head-to-head with written and Internet sources.
Since the telecommunication recording rule became a requirement, media owners have recognized a number of benefits, including:
* Gathering of multiple personal requests during a single call;
* Foregoing the necessity to ask existing and prospective subscribers the “personal identifier” question that often leads to a declined call;
* Decreased auditing confirmations, resulting in lower costs for this component of the circulation audit;
* And, whenever legally challenged as to the pre-existing business relationship, the recording is irrefutable evidence.
In addition, the current required scripts for “authorized assistants” are cumbersome to execute and do not apply to many markets/situations. This has been causing missed acquisition/renewal opportunities, audit challenges and additional costs for members. The Board voted to eliminate these scripts. The amended rules now define who can make direct requests, and allow the media owner and their service partners to develop the best scripts to meet the requirements.
Board Actions Applying to All Members
Rules Created for Brand and Expanded Media Channels: BPA developed new rules for Brand reporting, including separate sections on media channel eligibility, definitions, Brand Report filing information, Brand Report contents and requirements for audits.
As BPA transitions all b-to-b and consumer members to the Brand Report format over the next year, it is necessary to create rules for reporting new channels. The Board approved new rules and reporting guidance for: Email Newsletters, Social Media, Webinars, and Document Downloads (white papers, case studies etc.), as well as amending existing rules for business publications, consumer magazines and newspapers. In addition, each section contains elements to define eligibility type, definitions, report filing information, report contents and requirements for audits of a channel.
As new media channels emerge, we will develop additional rules and guidance for their reporting.
Rulebook Format: All new and existing BPA rules have been incorporated into a single, cohesive format, including a new numbering system to ease navigation. For an introduction to the new rules format, visit our website.