12 Building a print circulations audit system

12.2. Key issues

Before beginning the work of creating an audit system, consider first the following critical issues:

• The existing audit systems of the ABCs around the world can be used as models, but in a fundamental way, an audit system must serve and be the product of its individual market. A viable audit system is a local adaptation, not a mechanical copy of any existing model.
• The construction of an audit system is very complex work, requiring a great deal of involvement and resources from the given market’s players. The decision-making forums of an ABC have an essential role to play in this process. No effort should be spared in the developmental process.
• An audit system must be based on a thorough understanding of the market’s technological environment, and the different business practices and monitoring processes taking place within the market. It is equally important to understand that an audit system requires expertise in financial auditing.
• Each and every decision related to the audit system will directly influence the quality and cost of the audits. There are many traps that should be avoided by thorough analysis and thinking. Good anticipation and attention to details is a key success factor.
• As any self-regulatory system, an audit system is the result of a compromise among the market players. It is the common denominator that will serve the needs of all audited publishers, regardless of the individual level of technology and complexity of the internal processes of any of the to-be-audited publishers.
• Both the design and the operations of an audit system involve very sensitive and special business data; therefore, data security and the trustworthiness of the involved people are imperative.
• Think twice before embarking into a “we will make it by ourselves” improvisational approach. It is better to have someone who is a master of the complex knowledge to help you in the effort – someone who is willing and ready to assist you in the process. Again, contact the IFABC to get proper advice.
• An audit system is a set of conventions, a theoretical approach to solving a very specific problem. Regardless of the architecture of a new audit system, it is critical to test all its assumptions before going into live auditing.
• The complexity and novelty of an audit system requires proper and continuous training of the publishers who will audit their publications, as well of the whole media/advertising market. An audit system is a standard that needs to be well explained and maintained.
• The beneficial result of the work will not come immediately; it will take time.

There is no receipt, or off-the-shelf solution, for having an audit system. It is complex work that requires thorough knowledge, careful planning and execution. There are many existing models, and a newly established ABC should be able to adapt these to its own needs.

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