Thursday, February 11, 2010

First Questex Integrated VAC reports emerge; show decreases in circ levels, first year direct requests

Verified Audit Circulation (VAC) announced this morning the release of the first integrated audits produced for Questex Media Group LLC.  Questex, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October of last year, had previously announced they were moving their audits to VAC from BPA.

The integrated audit promoted by VAC for Questex's Hotel & Motel Management shows a sharp decline in print circulation: from 49,789 printed copies as shown in its last BPA audit of June 2008, to 42,120 printed copies for the audit period covered by the new VAC audit of April to September 2009.  Unpaid digital subscriptions increased from 4,486 to 5,901 during the same period.  Direct requests dropped dramatically with only 23,574 readers now directly requesting the print magazine versus 39,655 on the last BPA statement.

The new VAC audit for Hotel & Motel Management includes a page for web traffic, listing unique users and page views.

Trade publishers have, for the past few years, been questioning the value of their circulation audits in the wake of dramatic ad page declines and the move towards a greater emphasis on web readership. While Questex announced that they were dropping BPA as their audit bureau of choice, other publishers such as Pennwell and United Business also dropped BPA audits on select titles around the same time. Within the hotels category, Penton's Lodging Hospitality has resigned its BPA, while Reed's Hotels, and ICD's Hotel Business continue to be BPA audited.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

First, it's good to see Verified putting out a credible audit. They have very little experience in the controlled-circulation b2b magazine field. I've never heard that anyone has ever failed a Verified b2b magazine audit. Many have questioned whether they're just going through the motions.

These numbers -- precipitous declines in print readership, especially requested print -- would indicate Verified is serious.

Second, one wonders if publishers have been auditor shopping in search of better numbers.

Third, no one still wants to face the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The problem with b2b magazines is not that people have stopped reading print. (Most b2b media companies still derive the majority of their income from print, with "new media" accounting for 15% or less). The problem is that there are simply too many magazines. One can't expect a physician to read 10 magazines a month, or a landscaper to read the 4-5 on his industry. More magazines will have to fold. Those with the most-appreciated content will survive. That's a good thing.