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Media Intelligence : MT Resource 2010
55 MediaTitles T he Australian media industry saw the advent of official auditing for print publications over seventy seven years ago with the establishment of the Australian Bureau of Circulations (ABC) in 1932, followed by the emergence of the Circulations Audit Board (CAB) in 1957. Over this time the ABC and CAB became home to a wealth of data that maps generations of our love affair with the written word. Yet by the turn of the century the media industry was looking for far more from both organisations, according to ABA Chief Executive Officer Gordon Towell. “A deep association and attachment to print had stifled innovation and to some extent pigeon-holed the Audit Bureaux.” says Towell. From some quarters, it seems the media market in general considered the ABC and the CAB to be covered in a layer of philosophical print dust so thick that the realities of a digital age had failed to penetrate. In July 2008, Gordon Towell took over the reins – brought in to accelerate the move towards Digital and revamp the products and services, Towell was given a broad change mandate. “ The organisation needed to be refocused on ‘whole of media’, not just print. We needed to reflect the changes within the publishing industry and the move to cross-platform delivery of content. We also examined best practice overseas within the IFABC, (International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations) as other countries had already implemented web traffic audits.” says Towell The migration from a print culture to a command of the online age is not a small undertaking, but Towell was well equipped for the task. “I have a broad background in business and technology, and have been involved both peripherally and directly in the media industry for many years,” says Towell whose previous roles included CEO of the trans-Tasman print and mail company, the GEON Group, as well as senior positions in IT companies including IBS and the Granada Group. His understanding of technology, print and the broader media landscape helped to guide the industry conversation about audit standards into the 21st century. “ We surveyed our members and the wider market to find out what the industry wanted from our organisation. Overall the demand was for a more agile and flexible approach with a focus on streamlining the audit process and providing on-line circulation data.” says Towell. audit feature Sweeping the broom of change through an organisation with over seven decades of history, tradition and deeply rooted culture is no mean feat. Samantha Marks discovers in this interview why Gordon Towell is a man on a mission to modernise two of Australia’s more venerable media industry bodies. Media Auditing – the Future “ABA’s Web Audit Service sets a new benchmark for transparency because it doesn’t stop at the figures alone; it audits the technology that captures online traffic data as well.” – Gordon Towell p50-55 abc_cab.indd 54 8/12/09 2:52:30 PM
2009 - 2010
MT Resource Guide 2011