Magazine Publishers Start To Coalesce Around Better Digital Metrics

Hearst is following Conde Nast’s lead and will start releasing metrics on its paid iPad editions, the company announced today. Separately, the Association of Magazine Media has released a new set of guidelines for digital metrics.
Hearst, which charges separately for its magazines’ digital editions instead of bundling them with print subscriptions, will immediately begin disclosing to advertisers the total number of paid iPad editions sold each month. “As soon as possible,” it will share further data about “total time spent per reader per issue and average number of sessions per issue.”
For now, Hearst is only releasing digital data about the iPad editions of its magazines, not about other digital editions sold on platforms like Kindle and Nook. Meanwhile, Condé Nast is providing advertisers with data for iPad, Kindle and Nook editions.
In a separate announcement today, the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) released a new set of “voluntary guidelines to drive growth of advertising on tablets.” To start, the MPA recommends that magazine publishers release five metrics:

1. Total consumer paid digital issues
2. The total number of tablet readers per issue
3. The total number of sessions per issue
4. The total time spent per reader per issue
5. The average number of sessions per reader per issue

The MPA recommends that those metrics be released 10 weeks after the newsstand on-sale date for monthlies and seven weeks for weeklies. “Our research tells us that magazine readers continue to engage with their tablet issues as long as a month or more after the on-sale date of the publication and we need data that reflect this engagement,” said MPA president Nina Link.
Hearst, Condé Nast and the MPA’s moves come ahead of expected changes to the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ reporting format for digital editions. If the new standards are approved in a vote this summer, large consumer magazine publishers will be required to break down digital magazine subscriptions and single-copy sales by platform starting in July 2013.