Group M’s George Janson on Why the Magazine CMR Brought a Twinkle to His Eye

As a member of ABC’s Magazine Buyers’ Advisory Committee, George Janson, managing partner, director of print, Group M, is immersed in the evolution of print and digital media buying. ABC recently talked with Janson about how Group M is evaluating magazines’ multimedia brands, and what the CMR might mean for the industry.

George Janson

ABC: How is Group M currently evaluating print, digital and mobile opportunities?
George Janson: We have a host of quantitative and qualitative factors. Beyond the obvious like reach and composition, we’re also interested in factors like recall, engagement and time spent. Clearly we’re pressing for data from some of the new platforms. We certainly want to see how these vehicles deliver brand objectives on an individual platform basis, but we also need to look at the brand’s combination of assets of delivery across print, web, iPad, mobile, etc.

ABC: As you’re trying to evaluate these platforms, what was your reaction when you saw the CMR?
GJ: It was overwhelmingly positive. It brought a twinkle to my eye. I think it supports a natural iteration of the current audit process, given the changing media landscape and evolution we’re witnessing right now.

ABC: How would the CMR change your buying process?
GJ: It would open our eyes to some platforms we might not have thought about from a particular partner. Here at Group M, we’re very excited about the many ways magazines are evolving and extending their brands beyond the page. The goal here is not to be punitive, but for us to walk hand in hand with our partners and hopefully learn from each other. For instance, say we’re in the early planning stages, and we’ve heard that social is becoming more important for a particular brand. Knowing that a magazine has a rich, compelling social story from the CMR report could impact how we plan a buy for that particular magazine.

ABC: Will information about CMRs make it into your RFPs?
GJ: Absolutely. I’d go as far as to say that I think it should be mandatory for publications.

ABC: Do you think you’d evaluate the information on the CMR differently than more traditional ABC reports, such as Publisher’s Statements?
GJ: We’d use this knowledge to help assess how serious a magazine brand is about connecting with its audience through multiple distribution points beyond print. It’s not to say that one size fits all. I don’t think it’s as simple as looking at circulation versus rate-base guarantees. Obviously we’re still in the early stages, and we’re still in the investigative stage with some of the very new outlets such as the tablet. I think the CMR reports will help us unearth some of the evaluative criteria.

I do think there needs to be widespread participation. But clearly the report is just a starting point. You can’t look at the numbers in isolation. You have to look at the platform’s contextual relevance, how user-friendly they are, what’s the quality, the content. A lot of the same practices you choose in evaluating a magazine. Those just don’t go out the window.

ABC: Why is it important to have ABC audit these brand extensions?
GJ: Our clients are demanding more accountability and transparency from us, as they should be. We collectively expect to see the same from our magazine brand partners. I think it bestows credibility to have a highly recognized and respected organization like ABC conducting the audit. It’s also nice to have a central repository, which has the details of all these brand extensions. It’s very easy for data to become unwieldy.

ABC: What advice do you have for publishers considering a CMR?
GJ: Just do it. I don’t really see any downside. I think it is part of an education process. And if the magazine is doing its job, nothing on the report should be a surprise to the buyer.

ABC: What’s needed to ensure accountable media buying and selling in the future?
GJ: Things that never go out of style—transparency, accuracy, timeliness—I think these will become more important than ever as the number of options from our members continues to flourish.




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