ACGMedia's Chris Cope: The CMR is a Big Win for Newspapers

ACGMedia’s Chris Cope: The CMR is a Big Win for Newspapers

As newspapers continue to expand and evolve their print and digital products, ABC formed a Newspaper Consolidated Media Report Task Force (CMR) to examine how this emerging report can both represent newspapers and provide buyers the information they need. The Task Force is working toward establishing standards and a prototype of a flexible, comparable report. The group continues to shape its recommendations, which are expected later this year.ACGMedia logo

Christopher Cope, Founder/President and CEO of ACGMedia and Chairman of the Newspaper Buyers’ Advisory Committee, talked with ABC about the progress of the CMR Task Force.

ABC: How is ACGMedia evaluating current print, web and mobile media opportunities? 
Christopher Cope (CC): The business used to distinct silos. Now we look at all media as a whole, whether it’s print or digital, and then whether it’s mobile or other platforms within digital.

ABC: The Newspaper Consolidated Media Report Task Force (CMR) was formed last year to examine how the CMR could provide a comprehensive look at those platforms. What are some of the group’s goals?
CC: We certainly want to get a more complete understanding of a media company’s holdings in a market rather than focus on an individual medium or product. It’s valuable to see multiple channels in a single document so we have a comprehensive picture of what we’re evaluating. We can also see where one medium can complement and enhance the effectiveness of another.

The format of the current CMR is fairly non-standard. This can be a good thing in that newspapers should be given the flexibility to fully present the results of their various products, but still within formats buyers can understand and make media decisions. Our goal is to have as much comparability as possible between and among media in various markets and over time. We want comparable data, so that we can observe changes in the data points every six months.

ABC: What role does timely data play in the Task Force’s discussion?
CC: We need far more timely information. When you look at other media metrics, their ability to be contemporaneous to the audience is at this point far greater. The sooner we can implement CMRs and timely reporting of audience, the better all of us will be. The group agreed that we needed to accelerate this process significantly. The ideal would be to have reliable data updated monthly, but moving to a quarterly report should be an achievable short-term goal.

We were pleased that paragraph 3B reporting of the products by ZIP Code will be part of the CMR. It looks like even for those newspapers that report every other year we’ll be getting highly accurate information at the ZIP Code level with increased frequency. To us, this change is a huge initial step forward.

ABC: What other issues does the CMR help solve?
CC: Going back to the silos within the ad buying community, we needed to find ways to bridge the gap between print and digital. But now with things like the CMR, the reporting and integration of multiple media is a lot easier because buyers are looking at the cross-channel information. I think this will allow the people who were traditionally involved with print media to have a tool that really helps to make consolidated buying decisions and develop broader, more comprehensive marketing strategies.

ABC: How did you work with newspaper publishers to develop the CMR? Are you pleased with the process and results?
CC: Speaking from the buyer side, I can’t tell you how happy we are with the introduction of the CMR. It is a step forward and certainly helps provide us with a better way to connect to the digital media. I can also say the level of cooperation between the buyers and the newspapers was extraordinary. Because of the changes in the media landscape, we all recognized our common purpose. There was also a very high sense of urgency. With plenty of cooperation and understanding between both sides, we came out with what I consider to be a very good product.

ABC: What advice do you have for buyers reviewing CMRs for the first time? 
CC: This is an opportunity for buyers to look beyond the print product and see other components of the market with a high level of confidence. We rely heavily on newspaper and broadcast websites for our digital solutions. The CMR is a good step forward to help us make channel-buying evaluations. I encourage buyers to examine CMR and provide their input, as it will help everyone make the next generation of consolidated media reporting even better.

ABC: Any advice for newspaper publishers considering their first CMR?
CC: CMR participation demonstrates in a very big way that their publishers are on board with the rapid changes in the media world. To not embrace CMR and products like this would be shortsighted as buyers are actively looking for reasons to integrate newspapers’ digital and print products. If we don’t have it presented like this, newspapers become even more difficult to buy. I think they will be doing themselves a big service by participating proportionately to the product offerings in their respective markets.

With the level of tracking and ROI accountability now available in new media channels, overall media investments are more closely scrutinized than ever. This type of transparency builds a lot of confidence and understanding in the various product offerings. CMR participation shows how their multimedia company presents value to the market for buyers. This is a big win for publishers.

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