with credibility,” Hano continues. “The fact that we’re doing
the CMR gives us credibility because it allows us to guarantee
to our advertisers that we’re reaching who we say we’re reaching.”
Facing the Future
Although the industry has embraced the CMR, ABC faced
several potential challenges upon launching, including the
economy. In fact, the Tribune Company began working on its
first CMR in September 2008 — at the height of the banking
crisis. Although the price of a CMR varies depending on what
data the publisher wants audited, it can cost anywhere from
$5,000 to upwards of $30,000. Launching a new product at
that price point during a difficult time could have backfired.
Lucky for ABC, it didn’t.
“We launched [the CMR] right as the market began to
fall apart in 2008 and 2009,” Lavery says. “The concern
in a poor marketplace was how widely it would be adopted,
but our experience has been that good products are adopted
regardless of the economic environment.”
Because CMRs are customizable by publishers, and
because they’re designed to be visually engaging, one of
ABC’s greatest challenges has been technology.
“For nearly 100 years, our reports have been fairly stan-
dardized. In comes the data, out go the boilerplate reports,”
Wachowicz explains. “With the CMR, we’ve continued to
struggle and work through the process of obtaining in some
cases very creative, lush graphic files for which our organiza-
tion’s boilerplate factory was not set up to receive. So, we’ve
had to look at whether or not to invest in technology to make
us a more creative shop. For an organization that’s done
something the way it’s done it in a standardized format for
nearly 100 years, that’s not an insignificant shift.”
ABC’s other major challenge has been access: To audit
CMR data, it needs admittance to the data source. For print
circulation, that requires only a single point of access in the
publisher’s circulation department. In the case of digital data,
however, it requires engaging the publisher’s IT department
and various technology vendors.
“The challenge isn’t whether we can audit the informa-
tion. The challenge is whether or not the particular vendor
being used will allow us access to the materials we need
to confirm on the publisher’s behalf the information that’s
there,” Wachowicz says. “We do run into app developers and
other technology companies — e-newsletter delivery compa-
nies, for instance — that will not allow us into their shops to
authenticate the data the publisher’s requesting. In that case,
the only choice we have is to rely on the publisher member
to leverage its clout to open the door for us to get inside.
Sometimes they’re successful, sometimes they’re not. When
they’re not, the publisher simply excludes that data from their
For the industry, the greatest challenge is deciding what
should be reported on the CMR and how often. Although they
like that they can customize the report, members would like
there to be some degree of standardization that makes it easy
to compare products across brands and markets. They’d also
like the option of producing CMRs more often — maybe even
Growth in iPad Apps for
The number of iPad apps for U.S. magazines has
increased more than ten-fold since iMonitor T started
tracking publication-related apps in April 2010;
the majority of them being extensions of
monthly. That will be phase two, however. Right now, ABC is
focused primarily on increasing the report’s adoption.
“I think the CMR has the potential to be ABC’s primary
report somewhere in the future. How we get there is an
important marketing challenge for the organization,” says
Lavery, who adds ABC has been “evangelical” about promoting the CMR.
To that end, ABC has borrowed a page from its members’
playbook by taking a multi-channel approach to marketing.
For instance, the CMR has been featured prominently in videos, interviews and case studies published on ABC’s website,
e-newsletters, blogs and social media pages. It also has taken
center stage in many of ABC’s education sessions and has
been a sponsor — the CMR product, not the ABC organization — at industry events.
It’s too early to tell if it’s helping them increase ad revenue. However, publishers say the CMR’s potential is enormous.
“We’re just getting started,” Wachowicz says. “Everyone
is learning from this process about how to use it, what to
do with it, whether there’s a payback associated with it or
whether it’s just a promotional tool for storytelling. I firmly
believe, however, that it’s the future not only of our organiza-
tion, but of our industry.”
As a model, it might be the future for other industries, as
well. “Embrace change,” advises Popular Science’s Hano.
“Change is awesome, and we’re never going to see the end of
it. If you don’t embrace it quickly and move to where you
think the puck is going, you’re going to miss opportunities.
You’re going to stagnate. If you want to grow, you need to
move — and you need to keep moving.”
Matt Alderton is a Chicago-based freelance writer and a FORUM contributing
editor. He may be reached at