It’s a real pity that the brawl between Yaffa Publishing and Reed over
who has the biggest circulation was settled before it reached court.

We might just have got an insider’s view on the differing measurement
methods of the two major circulation audit groups in Australia, The
Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and the Cirulation Audit Bureau
(CAB). The story was picked up in The Australian
on Wednesday.

But the brawl between Reed’s B&T
magazine and Yaffa’s Advertising News

neatly illustrates many of the lurks so far exposed in Crikey. The
story, buried away in the business pages, confirms the different ways
the two main circulation ‘audit’ groups, the ABC and the CAB, measure
the circulation of publications.

They are extremely flexible. The ABC audit measures paid sales, the
CAB, ‘verified distribution data’. Neither publication mentions this
brawl on their web homes pages. Strange that, especially for Ad News
which won.

The story in yesterday’s Australian

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.)

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 7343 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.

Both measurement methods are flexible, extremely so judging by the
continuing flow of reports into Crikey about circulation fiddles.