12 Building a print circulations audit system

12.1. What is a circulations audit system?

A print circulation audit system is a combination of rules, regulations, and protocols – backed by a team of people, operations and infrastructure, and independent verification. It aim is to be capable of delivering to the marketplace a true picture of the circulation performance of the audited publications.

As stated previously, only publishers possess the real and full picture of their title’s circulation performance. By creating an ABC and its audit system, the advertising industry creates a mirror that most accurately reflects this performance. The picture must be clear, credible, understandable and unbiased. The data reported must be 100 percent reliable, comparable to similar other media indicators, and delivered in a timely manner.

The technical essence of the circulation audit is to independently verify the documentation and accounting of the publishers (in general by chartered public accountants), which act as proof of the different circulation types and quantities of a given publication, in a given time period.

The subjects of the audits are the publishers, while the advertisers and media agencies, as well as the public, at large, are the consumers of the audited data. The role of the publishers is to take part in the audits, while the role of the other two other arms of the market is to formulate their needs relative to the data, which will be audited and published, and to manage the audit standards and processes. The three parties should work together on establishing the most practical, valid and reliable audit system for a given market.

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