Scammers will target any industry where they see an opportunity and unfortunately the publishing industry is no exception. Some outright publishing scams involve magazines that don’t exist at all, but perhaps far more insidious are the scammers that do have a magazine to shop around, but don’t have the circulation they claim. Often these scams can be very effective and I’ve seen major companies fall for them and end up wasting their money on an ad that none of their customers see.

There is a simple way to avoid being scammed, and that is to check that a magazine’s circulation is audited by the Audited Media Association of Australia, also known as the CAB or ABC.

While not all unaudited magazines are scams, all scams are unaudited so the safest way to avoid being scammed is to avoid unaudited magazines altogether.

Some of the most common scams include;

  •  An actual magazine with a small print run that is distributed freely to advertisers and perhaps to exhibitors at a major show, but has no mailing list and no distribution to customers and end users
  •  Online only magazines that are so broad in their coverage that they are unlikely to have any readership in specific industries
  •  Magazines that offer to do a profile on your business because you’re just so interesting, and then hit you with the bill
  •  Magazines that claim to be doing a feature with the support of a major customer, eg Rio Tinto, then target all their suppliers, whereas in fact the company in question has no knowledge of this

In all cases, all you need to do to keep safe is insist on seeing the audit certificate. While professional marketers are usually familiar with circulation audits, often the person responsible for marketing a smaller trade or niche company has not come across the concept before and isn’t sure where to start.

A great place to start is the Quick Find portal, a website where anyone can register for free to double check any publication’s figures.

If you do advertise in an audited publication, you are potentially rewarding scammers and wasting your company’s money on an ad that didn’t reach your targets.

From a publisher’s perspective, getting audited is a fairly simple and cost effective process, so there’s really no excuse for not doing it, unless you have something to hide.