INTEGRATED: INTEGRATED ISSUES; The auditing of inserts should help the medium finally to come of age pounds

Insert accreditation could make clients take notice, Gordon MacMillan argues

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