One of the big issues Advertising Inspector particularly wish to highlight for the benefits of the advertising consumer is that of false claims, particularly in relation the exposure you may have been led on to believe your company will gain by advertising within a specific publication.

As discussed in other pages of this website, the big ruse that many advertising sales reps use is the “readership” or “media opportunities” figures which mean absolutely nothing at all.  Don’t make the mistake of being taken in by this – part of what you pay for when you sign up to advertise with a magazine company is that a certain quantity will be printed and distributed (and if it carries a cover price, a certain quantity will be sold) – these are the single most important facts you must to uncover.  If you advertise in an attractive magazine that only actually print and circulate say a low quantity of 1,000 copies, this has to be factored into the advert rate.  If sales reps spout readership or media opportunities at you, be certain that they have something to hide. Many of the large national companies are the worst offenders at leading on advertisers and marketing agencies with their notional figures.  The established industry multiple in order to arrive at the ‘readership’ figure is 3x the quantity of magazines printed (for free magazines) or sold (for paid-for magazines). Until quite recently, a magazine in the South West was claiming over 11 readers per copy sold (we actually couldn’t get to the bottom of how many they printed and sold, and still haven’t).  This is because the magazine in question has suffered a serious drop in the amount of magazines sold to the public, although by masking this with the spurious media opportunities term, they’re able to maintain their very high advertising rates. Incidentally, this magazine is produced by a major national publisher and still carries massive quantities of totally duped advertisers. We assume that they (businesses and marketing agencies) see the magazine full to brimming (mainly with adverts and advertorial) and make an automatic judgement that it’s the place to advertise! (incidentally, we regularly come across ex-advertisers of this magazine, who’ve been in, spent oodles of cash, had great expectations, and subsequently had little or no results – resulting in the ex-advertiser being totally put off paper based marketing which is a great pity, because paper remains one of the most productive, simple and transparent forms of marketing for local/regional businesses).

The Readership/Media Opportunities scam
If, as an advertiser, you’ve booked your business into a magazine, but you do not actually know how many of these magazines are printed and distributed and/or sold (perhaps because you haven’t asked the proper questions pre-booking), then you have no recourse to action as a consumer. As mentioned previously by us, it’s a bit like going into a shop, asking for sugar, handing over £5 and not knowing how much sugar you were going to be given – you just wouldn’t do it, so why would you advertise without knowing circulation. This may be because you’ve been sold advertising on the basis of a publication’s readership or media opportunities – so depending on how many readers the publisher claim per copy, they can totally mislead and divert you away from working-out how many they actually sell (paid-for mags) or circulate (free mags), which in effect is what you’re actually paying for. Our CAAP figures reveal the true cost of exposure for your company (see here).

If you feel that you’ve been misled, either by a publication’s media pack or directly by a sales representative, then you may have a course of redress but firstly you should refer to the contract you’ve signed with the publisher. We would be happy to hear your feedback on any publications you consider have misrepresented the package of exposure that you’ve been sold into by their sales reps.