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What Does a BPA Statement Mean to You?

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Unbiased reporting of a publication’s circulation claims!


August 2013 BPA
Once a year, most companies conduct a financial audit. Twice a year, Photonics Media undergoes an audit, not of the financial kind, but of our circulation. The audits are conducted by BPA International, the leading auditing service for business-to-business publications.

When you invest in advertising, you are buying access to a publisher’s audience. The value of that audience is defined by who is in it and how they use the publication: receivership and readership, respectively. The BPA statement defines the receivership side of the equation.

BPA International is an independent, not-for-profit organization supported by publishers, advertisers and advertising agencies; it has been auditing business-to-business publications for more than 80 years. An important fact to keep in mind about BPA audits is that they don’t generate information. Rather, they verify information already amassed and analyzed by publishers. This allows advertisers to objectively evaluate and compare magazines with an independent audit form or statement.

Let’s take a few minutes to walk through a BPA statement. You may want to refer to one as you read.

Among the first things you’ll see on the BPA statement are a description of the field served by the publication, a definition of recipient qualification and the purpose of the publication. These items are important because they let an advertiser know the publication’s primary market segment and the types of individuals who receive it. This information helps advertisers determine whether this is the market and type of subscriber they want to reach.

Key Information Found in a BPA Statement
• Field served by publication
• Definition of recipient qualification
• Purpose of publication
• Average total qualified circulation
• Number of qualified subscribers by issue
• Business/occupation breakout of qualified circulation
• Technologies and sciences worked with
• Products bought, used or recommended
• Percentage and numbers of subscribers renewing in 1- 2- or 3-year period
• Areas where publication is received
Section 1 of the statement deals with the average total qualified circulation, which is an average over the six months covered by the audit. This section includes qualified paid and nonpaid subscriptions. The number to note here is the total qualified circulation, because qualified subscribers are those most likely to be in a position to buy your products whether they are free or paid subscriptions.

Section 2 deals with the number of qualified subscribers by issue for the period. The “total qualified” number for the analyzed issue of the six-month period is the number on which the data in the remaining sections is based. It is typically the number quoted as a magazine’s total circulation.

The next section of interest is 3a, the business/occupational breakout of the qualified circulation. It tells the advertiser whether the publication reaches the customers they want to reach. Section 3a will give you not only the industries in which qualified subscribers work, but their job functions as well. Say you want to reach R&D engineers in federally funded laboratories – Section 3a will give you that information.

Other areas to review when reading a BPA statement are the sections of “supplementary data,” which come from a publication’s subscriber qualification card. For publications such as Photonics Spectra and BioPhotonics, these sections cover the technologies and sciences with which qualified subscribers work as well as the products they buy, use or recommend. This information is audited at additional cost to the publisher and is not provided by all publishers – so it’s another example of where a publication goes above and beyond to provide more information than is required for audit.

Section 3b of the statement covers the qualification source for the audited issue. This section is standard for all publications, allowing for easy comparison. An advertiser can learn a great deal about the quality of the circulation from the information provided. One of the more important parts of this section is the “Qualified Within” table. This reports the percentage and numbers of subscribers who have renewed their subscriptions within a one-, two- or three-year period.

It turns out that 75% of Photonics Spectra’s qualified subscribers renew their subscription or subscribe new each year! An interesting thing to note about Photonics Spectra is that it has more subscribers qualified within one year than the total qualified circulation of all other competing publications.

Finally, Section 4 of the BPA statement deals with the distribution of a publication. This gives advertisers a clear picture of what regions are receiving the publication. Photonics Spectra, for example, reaches all areas of the world.

Through careful examination of the BPA statement, advertisers can learn a lot about a publication’s ability to reach desired target markets and can clear the smoke surrounding a publication’s circulation claims. By investing a little time to learn more about the information presented, advertisers will come to see that a BPA statement can be a helpful tool in choosing the right publication to carry their advertising.

Laurin Publishing goes the extra mile to maintain circulation to assure advertisers that they are getting the highest-quality circulation. By taking the time to look a little more closely at the information presented in the BPA statement, advertisers can begin to see for themselves just how effective publications are at reaching target markets.

By asking questions about what is presented in the BPA statement, advertisers can help themselves make educated decisions regarding the publication in which they should invest advertising. It’s your money: Demand the best!

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