Get Ready for ABC 2.0: Accountability in the New Age of Media

By: Michael J. Lavery, President and Managing Director, Audit Bureau of Circulations

For nearly a century, the Audit Bureau of Circulations has led the world in the auditing of print media. Throughout that time we have seen the media environment expand, evolve, and diversify in dozens of significant ways. Today, the pace of this change is staggering, accelerated by technological advances that were unimaginable when our organization began in 1914.   

Over the course of ABC’s rich history, our core purpose has remained largely unchanged: we remain dedicated to being the world’s preeminent media auditing organization, responsible to advertisers and the media they use. While this mission will carry us into the dawn of our second century in just a few short years, digital media options have made publishing and advertising models incredibly complex, rife with both opportunities and challenges.  

For most of you, that’s just another day at the office these days.  

Changing with our customers  

Our publisher and advertiser members are now reaching audiences through multiple touchpoints, and traditional flagship print publications have become the foundation for media brands that reach consumers via not just driveways and mailboxes but also websites, apps, events, email newsletters, and more. This means that ABC has become one of many organizations the media industry uses to gauge content distribution and consumption.  

ABC has certainly evolved our services and created new products to meet your changing requirements. The list of accomplishments in the past five years—expanded digital and audience reporting, cost-effective Community Newspaper Audits, new digital platform audits, the brand-focused Consolidated Media Report—makes it clear that our customers, products and expertise have moved well beyond print circulation auditing.  

What’s in a name?  

I’m proud of the tremendous advances ABC has made during this time. The one thing, perhaps, that hasn’t kept pace with all this rapid change is the ABC brand itself.  

The ABC board of directors recently and unanimously agreed that a refresh of the ABC brand would better reflect the organization’s position and role in today’s cross-media environment.  

As a nonprofit association, we put the issue to our members and asked: Should ABC change its name to better reflect the evolution of the organization and properly position ourselves in today’s increasingly complex digital, cross-media world?  

I’m extremely pleased to report that a huge majority of respondents—94 percent of the votes—agreed. So… drum roll please… on Nov. 15 at our annual conference in New York, our 98-year-old organization will introduce a new brand to help jumpstart ABC into its next century.  

More than a name change  

The new brand we’re introducing this month is emblematic of the advances we have made as an organization, and the ways in which our customers are evolving. In a media environment going through the most significant changes ever seen, ABC has continued to adapt and move forward. We’ve made strategic investments in our digital auditing expertise and direction. We’re positioning ourselves to lead in an emerging cross-media world. We’re making significant investments in our IT infrastructure and member database capabilities. And we have acquired the Certified Audit of Circulations to round out our newspaper auditing services and strengthen our media information database.  

Our new brand symbolizes a new era for our organization and our members. We think of it as accountability in the new age of media.  

A word about CAC

We recently announced that nearly 90 percent of CAC members voted in favor of CAC becoming a subsidiary of ABC. CAC will officially become an operating subsidiary before the end of the year. By joining forces with CAC, we are positioned to better serve U.S. newspaper publishers and media buyers.  

CAC newspaper members can look forward to greater visibility to media buyers, anticipated cost savings and access to ABC’s suite of cross-platform audit services. Advertisers and ad agencies can anticipate a new comprehensive database that will offer unprecedented insight into print and digital circulation for nearly 2,000 daily and weekly U.S. newspapers, which will be available to more than 1,000 newspaper advertisers and media buying agencies that are members of one or both organizations.  

As you’ll soon see, our new relationship with CAC is a perfect fit with our new brand.  

Stay tuned  

I look forward to introducing you to our new name on Nov. 15. On that day you’ll also see an entirely new website, with easy-to-use navigation and functionality.  

And you’ll see a new media resource center—an online dashboard—where advertisers and publishers can easily view and download a host of audit reports and perform custom analyses via our comprehensive industry database.  

Until then, I can tell you that our new name represents not only what our organization has become, but what we will stand for as we approach our 100th anniversary. It reflects our unique tripartite makeup—an alliance, if you will—that speaks to the core of our membership: advertisers, advertising agencies and publishing companies like yours.  

Standing together for audited media  

We may be changing our name, but we’re not changing what we stand for.  

All of our members stand for media that is differentiated by high audit standards. They stand for media that isn’t simply measured by a third party, but independently verified by the world’s most experienced audit organization. And they stand together in support of carrying our nonprofit mission forward into today’s cross-channel media environment.  

Whether it is auditing data, forging industry agreement between media buyers and sellers, leading with new digital services, transforming our newspaper rules, providing comprehensive online analysis tools or simply answering member questions, we will continue to constantly communicate and work with you to ensure your needs are met and our gold standard is maintained.  

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