Audit switches took media buyers by surprise: CMDC

The Canadian Media Directors Council has released a formal response to the resignation from ABC last month of three major Canadian publishers, which opted to have future measurement done by the CCAB.

Last month’s news that the Star Media Group, Sun Media and Transcontinental Media were switching from the Audit Bureau of Circulations to the Canadian Circulation Audit Board – and, later, that Rogers Media had chosen ABC for all 52 of its titles – ‘came as a surprise to the media-buying community.’

So says the opening sentence of a formal response released on Tuesday by the Canadian Media Directors Council and titled ‘CMDC Communiqué on Media Measurement, Accountability and Auditing.’

The overriding purpose of the statement, CMDC (and ABC) board member Sunni Boot, president/CEO of ZenithOptimedia, tells MiC, is that ‘future changes in auditing and measurements practices, policies, reporting will not take place without consultation with, and ideally agreement by, the buying community.

‘With accountability a headline subject in the industry,’ CMDC’s statement continues, ‘the question arises as to what obligations and responsibilities sellers have to the buying community, and what expectations buyers have in the currencies that govern our business transactions.’

The CMDC answers its own question with ‘five principles that represent the core of importance to media buyers on accountability – from audience measurement to auditing.’ These include consultation, authority, governance, benefits and comparability. On the latter element, the council states: ‘In order to objectively assess purchase options in the fairest manner possible, the CMDC has always supported that sellers in similar media categories use the same measurement and accountability currency.

‘It has taken many years of evolution in Canadian media to move to a system that – certainly for the major media – is now directly comparable for all players,’ the comparability section of the statement continues, adding that ‘disrupting this system is not seen to be in the interest of objective and efficient media comparison, nor supportive of fair investment decision-making.’

The significance of the CMDC’s statement, says Boot, is that ‘the business model for most mediums relies heavily on advertiser support. Advertisers/buyers must be part (and some believe the largest part) of setting the standards for measurements and audits.

‘Why? Because the results of these audits reflect the currency by which we trade,’ she adds. ‘The advertiser/buyer’s voice must take precedence. We have selected and are paying for a medium with the expectation that we will deliver a certain audience. To provide confidence in those audience numbers, we must be fully receptive to the manner in which the data is captured and reported.’

CMDC’s complete statement may be viewed at: