The publishing and advertising industries have been reliable business partners for decades, but for this lucrative relationship to continue, ad agencies are hoping to lay down a few new ground rules. In an open letter to the Association of Magazine Media (MPA), American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) managing partner George Jansen recently requested greater transparency from digital publishers as the two sides work to monetize content in the most appropriate ways possible.
"We continue to be energized by the digital evolution of magazine brands and the new, exciting and valuable opportunities they offer consumers and advertisers," Jansen wrote. "While certain digital extensions, such as the tablet, represent a relatively new medium, we believe the time has come for rigorous transparency and accountability."
It is not the first time this discussion has emerged between the two parties, according to Advertising Age, as agencies have recently demanded a more concrete perspective on the success of their potential publishing partners' digital content production efforts. The MPA did make an important concession in April, releasing a "recommended set of tablet metrics" that encouraged digital publishers to inform advertisers on how the tablet editions of their content were selling, how much time readers spent with each piece and how frequently they revisited the content.
While Janson acknowledged that this move was a "step in the right direction" from the MPA, he went on to provide a supplementary list of recommendations on behalf of the 4As. In addition to diversifying the metrics recorded and diving into deeper detail, standardization across the digital publishing field was also top of mind.
"In order to gain widespread acceptance of tablet metrics and endorsement from advertisers, there's need for an accredited, third-party research vendor for measuring readership across these new devices," Janson added. "Further, the data needs to be reported in a consistent template across all publishing companies."
It remains to be seen how these considerations will be addressed and what kind of metrics emerge in the coming months, but if advertisers and digital publishers can get on the same page quickly, the opportunities could be vast. According to the latest analysis from the Consumer Electronics Association, 20 percent of online consumers in the U.S. now own a tablet computer. An additional 15 percent of survey respondents plan to purchase a tablet within the next months.