The publisher of this free publication network shares his thoughts on how an audit has helped his company gain exposure with national advertisers.
Erin Boudreau, Marketing Manager
AAM clients often ask for examples of how other publishers use AAM-verified data to sell more advertising. We recently spoke with Ben Martin, editor-in-chief of Coastal Angler Magazine and a new AAM client, to learn how his company’s initial audit has helped his network of 30 free publications share the value of its unique audience with national and local advertisers.
AAM: Tell us more about your company and your role.
Ben Martin: We are a network of free regional magazines that serves fishing, boating and outdoor enthusiasts in the Southeast. Our company uses a franchise model, so each publication is run by its own team, though we sell advertising for the network nationally. My job is to grow our business and audience. Collectively, we reach nearly 300,000 readers.
AAM: Why did Coastal Angler have an audit?
Ben Martin: Since we are a company of free publications and not on a subscription model, we’re often questioned about the accuracy of our circulation. However, having an audit meant that we had to establish guidelines to standardize the data submission process for our franchisees and get them to agree upon these new terms. It took us several years to establish a formal policy and training plan to ensure that everyone was on the same page. Once we worked out the details, we began the audit process. So far, it has paid off. I believe there’s nothing more important to the growth of this company than having a third-party audit.
The audit sets the tone for our conversations with national advertisers.
Ben Martin, Coastal Angler Magazine
AAM: What convinced you that an audit was a necessary part of your plan?
Ben Martin: I had an excellent relationship with a longtime advertiser who renewed their contract with us every year. That suddenly changed when they switched from buying media in-house to using an agency. Their new agency had a policy that only allowed the purchase of advertising in audited publications. They said they created this policy because investing in unaudited publications posed too great a risk to their clients’ budgets. That sealed the deal for me. I couldn’t afford to lose a client because our data wasn’t verified, so we began the process that led to our first AAM audit.
AAM: Now that you are audited, what has the reaction been from advertisers?
Ben Martin: Very positive. The audit sets the tone for our conversations with national advertisers. During our sales presentations, the first thing our reps do is hand the advertiser a copy of our audit report. For national advertisers, it’s often required to prove to them that our data has been audited by a third party. Also, since each of our franchisees have access to the audit, they can show local advertisers what separates us from other free publications in their markets, which is having a large circulation backed by numbers they can trust.
AAM: Now that you have completed your initial audit, how else do you hope to leverage it?
Ben Martin: We are projecting significant growth in our market in the coming years. Our model is special because we have a highly engaged audience who seeks out our publication for local fishing and boating information such as tide charts. We have a strong readership that’s loyal to our brand. Showing this growth by providing circulation figures verified by AAM will only help prove the value and uniqueness of our brand and audience to advertisers.
To learn more about why media buyers value AAM-verified data, check out this infographic.