MPA Makes Headway in Tablet Metric Standardization

Outside companies working to integrate metrics reporting into software

MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, has finally released a game plan to implement its guidelines for standardizing digital magazine metrics, which it hopes will encourage advertisers to commit to the growing number of tablet editions.

Last spring, the MPA’s Tablet Metrics Task Force released a list of voluntary guidelines for publishers to follow, include metrics like total consumer paid digital issues, and per-issue metrics like total number of tablet readers, total number of sessions, total time spent per reader and average number of sessions per reader. About 20 publishers are currently participating.

Now, the MPA is launching a program that would make it even easier for publisher to opt in. Earlier this week, at the MPA’s annual Independent Magazine Media Conference (IMAG) in New Orleans, Folio reported that the association’s svp, digital strategy and initiatives, Ethan Grey, revealed the MPA has been working with analytics, production and fulfillment companies like Zinio, Google, Adobe and CDS Global (among others) to develop software that would help track those five guidelines.

“Our goal is to be able to create standards that would be incorporated in a very wide way into the tools that our members…would use,” said Grey. “We are the organization best suited to define those [standards], but obviously our software partners and providers are going to be the people to create that software incorporating those specifications.”

As previously reported by Adweek, the MPA is also planning to bring in an outside company to help audit the data. The Media Research Council (MRC) has been given the job, Grey told Adweek today. (Originally, the Alliance for Audited Media, formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations, had been lobbying for the role.)

According to Grey, the MPA hopes to have all of the new guideline specifications and software updates ready for publishers by August. The MPA is expected to start sharing very high-level information from the program with the 4A's Next Generation Publishing Committee in the fourth quarter of this year, and Grey said that the program should be running on all cylinders by the first quarter of 2014. (The MPA has been working closely with the 4As on developing the new program, and Grey said that the association has been “incredibly patient.”)

Eventually, Grey sees the MPA incorporating other metrics in addition to the five current ones.