More from Crikey readers on how newspapers and
magazines creatively increase their circulations to pull the wool over
the eyes of advertisers.

From a Queensland reader:

Just to confirm a previous person’s email, News Ltd in Queensland is still providing copies of The Courier-Mail
each school day for $10 a year to state school teachers (maybe the
private ones too). This year they also brought in the $5 per week deal
for holiday periods. I’m a state school teacher and most of us would be
getting the paper every school day, at least.

And another reader tells of a common circulation-boosting ploy that advertisers aren’t told about:

I’m
pretty sure the various magazine groups would also still include
magazines bunched together in show bags at various events as sales, as
technically money does change hands, however much they may be
discounted.

An ex-Queensland newsagent who sold out in September last year, after ten years in the game, writes:

The ridiculously cheap teacher deal came about up here probably seven to eight years ago.

We
delivered to four schools – three state and one private. With the time
taken to make sure the bundles were counted out correctly, tied
securely and waterproofed (as they were dumped over the fence
in the wee hours) it was not a profitable proposition. For newsagents
to be then asked by Queensland Newspapers to sponsor the teachers’
papers out of their own pockets was an insult. I used the word “dumped”
deliberately as I know many of the papers were not read and at least
one school had a problem disposing of all the paper.

The wife
and I had a bit of a laugh with the release of the first newspaper
audit results following the commencement of the “rort”. Queensland
Newspapers were bragging how the M-F sales had increased by, from
memory, something like 15,000 per day! M-F sales had been dropping for
a long time prior to that.

The private school we delivered to
had quite different holidays to the state schools and I was requested
on more than one occasion not to deliver the papers during the holidays
because no-one would be there. When Circulation was contacted to reduce
our supply (from memory around 50 per day) the answer always was that
they wouldn’t reduce supply but to send them back with our returns ”
but don’t include them”. Obviously they were still to be regarded as
sales!

It never ceased to amaze me the number of papers, be it The Australian or Courier-Mail
delivered on special occasions such as Anzac Day, Olympics etc. The
Athens Olympics were a good example as we were delivering 240 papers
per day in total (on top of the teachers’ papers), seven days a week
for the duration of the games to three of the schools.

We’re
also getting quite a bit of email about what happens in the ‘trade
press’ – industry magazines and newspapers. Like this one from a Sydney
reader:

If you think the big audits are
crook, the trade press has this stuff down to a fine art. I once had
some dealings with a publication that claimed a circulation of over
5,000 but staff would tell you that only 1,000 copies were actually
printed and distributed.

Bizzarely, I was seven of those 1,000.
They gave away free subscriptions to qualified readers, ie those that
would interest advertisers the most. In this case it was senior IT
executives. Whenever the company I then worked for received one of the
surveys calling for new qualified readers, we would invent a new person
and ascribe millions of dollars in IT purchasing power to this
fictitious executive. These people never failed to qualify as
subscribers.

Despite the fact we ended up with seven subscribers
all at the same address, the publisher never figured it out and we kept
getting seven copies a week until the day the magazine closed its doors.

And a Crikey reader refers us to this story, in yesterday’s Australian, about a particularly interesting circulation dispute between trade magazines that cover the advertising industry itself:

Mag sales don’t ad up for B&T
By Sally Jackson

Reed Business Information has agreed to revert to a Circulation Audit Bureau audit for its marketing magazine, B&T , following legal action by Yaffa Publishing, owner of rival AdNews.

Yaffa went to the Federal Court after B&T joined the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s audit in the December half and was shown to be selling 6,603 copies a week to AdNews’s 5,793 copies a fortnight.

Yaffa claimed copies of B&T
provided to members of the Australian Marketing Institute, which were
included in the ABC figure, did not conform to ABC rules on what
constitutes net paid sales. (The ABC audit measures paid sales but CAB
audits provide verified distribution data.)

The matter was settled yesterday just as the hearing before Justice Peter Hely was to begin.

A statement from B&T said the magazine was paid by the institute to provide copies to its members.

However, B&T
accepts that the existing contract between it and the AMI is not
construed in a way which allows the copies provided to AMI members to
be included in an ABC audit, it said. B&T remained the
highest circulating advertising media and marketing magazine in
Australia with 7,343 copies, as of the CAB September 2004 audit.

Although
the AMI proportion of its circulation does not qualify under its
current agreement with the AMI for inclusion in an ABC audit, a large
percentage of B&T’s circulation remains paid, either by subscription or by sales on newsstands.

Yaffa group sales manager James Yaffa said AdNews was Australia’s top-selling advertising, marketing and media magazine.

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