Advertising Inspector magazine scoring breakdown

Advertising Inspector’s scoring process is based on fact, not fiction!

Each magazine is analysed according to a strict set of rules, ensuring our results are objective and reproducible. There are five key categories spanning a potential maximum of 100% scoring – weighted according to their importance in terms of providing an advertiser with the optimum blend of attributes necessary to achieve both widespread reach and extended time exposure in front of potential customers. Ultimately our objective is to herald a new level of transparency within the local advertising industry, exposing the charlatans and championing publications delivering excellent advertising quality and value.

This directly governs how great or little interest a magazine contains for the reader, which has a direct bearing on shelf-life and hence potential exposure for the advertiser. This is based on the assumption that adverts provide the lowest interest value, as opposed to genuine reader focused articles, which will have the greatest value. Our Content Makeup analysis comprises 4 key categories totalling 100% of a publication’s content, giving 30% of the total score for genuine reader interest content only.  Good quality and interesting content is vital for advertisers to gain the most benefit from magazine advertising. It has to be said that magazines having a cover price should be expected to have the highest levels of genuine reader content and visual quality to justify their charge. There are many free magazine out there now that easily exceed quality levels of paid-for magazines in this area, which effectively means that paid-for magazines have lost massive ground in terms of exposure provided to advertisers due to reduced circulation. Content Makeup is represented by colour bar charts for each magazine title shown on the magazine comparison tables, giving at-a-glance ease of understanding how much or little interest a magazine contains for the reader.

  1. ADVERTS – no further breakdown required.
    Out of the 30% total for Content Makeup, scoring for this category receives zero score weighting.
    Definition – Editorial that is for the intention of promoting a company’s products and/or services in the style of editorial or objective journalistic article.
    Pages marked up with promotional articles containing reference to a company’s products and services, product reviews, company social pages, news items with company references, product launches, venue related promotions, person features with links to business, recipes containing chef and/or restaurant reference.
    Out of the 30% total for Content Makeup, scoring for this category receives zero score weighting.
    Definition – Information of value to the public, but containing references with commercial interests. Would consist of reference to a general interest subject with further information (containing commercial interest) to assist the reader.
    Walks/wildlife/history/travel – with book references at end.  Property comment. Home interiors type advice. Financial advice, etc.
    CGRI is differentiated from advertorial when content has been created by the publication’s team or external writers with a view to creating informative and interesting reviews that are without gratuitous plugging.
    Out of the 30% total for Content Makeup, scoring for this category receives zero score weighting.
    Editorial and photographic features that must not contain references and promotion of company products or services and could easily be assessed as being genuine, non-commercial content.
    Out of the 30% score total for Content Makeup, a publication will achieve full score for this category if the publication’s total page makeup comprises 60% GRIC and over. Stepped scoring occurs from 0% up to 59%. AI regard 60% content makeup of GRIC as being the threshold level where advertising is sufficiently supported by genuine reader interest content.

Circulation directly affects advertiser exposure and is where much of the cost of your advertising investment is spent by the publisher, because good quality print is really expensive.  It’s worth saying that a paid-for magazine’s circulation may be adversely affected by the ability to sell copies – please don’t automatically assume just because a paid-for magazine looks busy and colourful, that it has massive readership and exposure, the truth may be that magazine sales are very much lower than you would expect.

It’s worth emphasising that there is a critical difference between paid-for and free-to-the-public (free) magazines that needs noting. This is where we make the assumption that free magazine publishers do not receive returns and all the stock is in circulation, whereas we consider circulation figures with regard to paid-for publications will be for actual magazines sold (not magazines printed), because the cover price provides a barrier to sales – it’s assumed that there will be returns from outlets of unsold copies.

To calculate the final scoring for CIRCULATION, we look to find the publication’s last audit date.  Then we apply a sliding scale multiplying factor based on a maximum range of 10 years.  So if the audit was in the current year, then a multiplier of 1.0 would apply, if the audit was 10 years ago, then the multiplier would be 0.0, or if the audit was 5 years ago, the multiplying factor would be 0.5

If there has been no audit of circulation, then we apply a factor of 0.0 by default.  (See what we say about circulation auditing here – evidenced data policy).

An extensive network of outlets which are high grade will ensure that the magazine you’re advertising in will reach a large affluent audience quickly. Ideally, the larger the network, the quicker the magazines will gain exposure as a thinner spread over a large area will be most effective.  Conversely, a small outlet network will mean that larger quantities of magazines will pool up, being much less effective at reaching an audience quickly.  The scoring is based on taking the largest outlet network for a given comparison of magazines within a defined area and setting this at 100% as it would represent the largest magazine outlet network available to the advertiser. If no figures area available for outlets, we nominally award 50% of the mark until figures are forthcoming.

This is THE figure allowing you to see the real picture in terms of how much you’re paying for an advert appearing on a single page of a given magazine. Note that you should also balance this against the quality of content within the magazine.  If the CAAP is low and the quality of content is high, then you’re onto a winner!

Paid for magazines have suffered serious decline and this is due mainly to the widespread appearance of premium quality glossy magazines, having no cover price and which are free to the public.  Today, a cover price is a large barrier to exposure for the advertiser. You have to ask yourself if the consumer needs to spend money, when they can easily pick up a free glossy magazine and use the money they’ve saved to buy a box of chocolates or some flowers. You’d rationally expect as a consumer, that if you were paying hard cash for a magazine, you’d see much greater quantity of genuine reader content within, but this generally isn’t the case, in fact, many of the paid-for glossies (particularly those produced by large national publishers) are absolutely brimming with adverts, promos, plugs, advertorial with surprisingly little of interest value to the reader.  It’s important to consider that as consumers, we’re bombarded with advertising from every quarter – TV, internet, radio, etc, so if you advertise in something full of adverts, without much interest for the reader, there will be diminished exposure value for your business.

There is an argument that says people value a publication if it has a cover price, but these days, this argument doesn’t hold water.  You’ll probably hear this story propagated by sales reps – but equally, when you ask them how many magazines are sold per issue, 9 times out of 10 they’ll attempt to change the subject!  The major advantage when advertising in free-to-the-public magazines is that providing you know the publishers are telling the truth about quantities printed, and the quality is good, then your company will achieve extremely rapid and widespread exposure.

If a magazine is free to the public, then it will score a full 10 points.  With regard to paid-for magazines, we apply a sliding scale  factor against the cover price to work out their score.