Insert accreditation could make clients take notice, Gordon MacMillan
As the use of inserts continues to increase, the Direct Marketing
Association and the Audit Bureau of Circulations are set to head-off
concerns about policing the medium by putting a new auditing system in
Although 12 months away, the accreditation of inserts by the ABC will be
another step towards the coming of age of a much-maligned medium.
Industry insiders hope it will give clients more confidence to use
The move comes after a recent Media Audits report that showed 40 per
cent of clients were unhappy with the media auditing of both inserts and
At present, there is no way for clients to tell if the inserts or door-
drops they have booked actually appear, and in the correct numbers, and
many advertisers are demanding similar guarantees and checks to those
available above the line.
Andrew Shapin, publishing director at the mail-order giant, Innovations,
is one of the most vocal critics of media owners: ‘They are woefully
inadequate in not coming up with some independent audit such as the ABC.
There is no quality of service and there are gaping holes in what is
offered, such as not being able to separate out the Saturday
What is perhaps most shocking for the industry is that Shapin says
Innovations books more inserts because of a lack of confidence in media
owners. ‘One of the biggest problems is that, if you book 1.2 million
inserts, newspapers give you a certificate that says 1.2 million. It is
always a round number, always,’ he explains.
While Shapin is very much one of the 40 per cent of respondents who say
they are unhappy, Shelly Radice, executive director at the Association
of Household Distributors, argues that a survey such as Media Audits’
does not have much credibility. ‘We have no idea which clients it
surveyed, or whether they have done many door-drops recently. The few
companies that use the medium regularly - such as Somerfield -are so
pleased with the way it works that they have instigated a set of awards,
called the AHD Step Check Awards, because of the high standard of
service,’ she says.
The personal computer manufacturer, Compaq, also books a large number of
inserts and William Knocker, the marketing services group manager,
comments: ‘We have not experienced many problems, but we carry out our
own unofficial audit by checking with our dealers. A more formal system
of auditing would probably be useful.’
The Radio Times insert manager, Philip Nunn, who is also a member of the
Inserts Council, sees the problem of auditing inserts as no different to
that of auditing radio or posters several years ago. ‘It is the same
problem radio has had in the past - now the Radio Advertising Bureau
fulfils that role. We have the Inserts Council, which was set up about
12 months ago. The Media Audits survey said that 40 per cent are not
happy and we will try to address the concerns of those people. The
formation of the council is a step forward,’ he maintains.
It is the talks with the ABC, though, that will be the next big step
forward. ‘We are currently briefing a task group to go out and identify
best practice. The body will come back in three months and we will go on
from there. We hope it will be in place in nine to 12 months,’ Nunn