More data: MPA works with Nielsen to gauge magazine engagement levels

Commenting on decision to independently financing a radio survey for the first half of of the year, NZME commercial director Sandra King said, “clients have told us they want more data, not less data”. And this is a growing sentiment in an industry that it having to compete with the measurability of digital advertising. Clients increasingly expect in-depth data on readers, listeners and viewers, and media owners are now required facilitate information that can better direct advertisers’ campaign strategies.

The radio industry isn’t alone in this bid to provide more accurate information to clients. Recently, the Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) announced the launch of a new Nielsen-provided methodology that quantifies the total audience potential (TAP) of a magazine by incorporating pick-ups into magazine reach and frequency schedules.

Rather than simply providing readership figures, this new approach will provide a gauge of the number of times a reader sees an advertisement. In a sense, this is more akin to the approach employed by other media, which deliver metrics on the total exposure an advertisement may achieve (opportunity to see).

Recently appointed MPA managing director Pip Elliottt says the TAP metric is being incorporated to give a better understanding of the engagement that readers have with magazines.

“Readership is a great metric,” she says. “But what we’re trying to do is gain a more in-depth understanding of how many times a reader might engage with the adverts in a magazine.”

Although the research is still in its early stages, Elliott says that the early results tell a good story for the magazine industry.    

“The initial findings from the beta TAP dashboard prove what we’ve always believed about the level of magazine engagement and our ability to amplify any campaign through deep and multiple exposures,” shes says.   

Kate Terry, Nielsen’s regional director of consumer and media insights (CMI), has welcomed the move by the MPA.

“We’re delighted to work with the MPA to develop tools that extend reader metrics and better reflect the ever-increasing ways readers engage with their favourite titles,” says Terry.

This move away from placing exclusive emphasis on readership figures is also being mirrored in the digital channel, where media owners are starting to look at other metrics to measure the value of advertising on a site. Until now, much of the emphasis has been placed on the number of unique browsers, but increasingly other metrics—such as the time spent on an article, the bounce rate and the percentage of returning visitors—are also starting to play a role in providing a sense of how loyal readers are to a brand.

The MPA will hope that the data gathered from this research suggests that magazine readers are engaged and return to the publication numerous times before discarding it.

This data, when viewed within the context of Nielsen’s geoTribes platform, could provide media agencies with a means by which to better target specific readers through magazine advertising.    

Alex Lawson, the group business director at Zenith Optimedia, has welcomed the new approach, but adds that this isn’t necessarily going remove all the challenges currently facing the industry.            

“Getting any further data on audience habits and methods of readership or recall is only beneficial to us as an industry,” he says. “However, this isn’t going to paper over the cracks of the falling readerships and circs that we’re seeing across the mass magazine market. The bigger issue for the MPA and the magazine publishers now is stemming these declines or finding new technology to retain the eyeballs, be that in print or digitally.”

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