Monday, September 29, 2014

MPA unveils new metrics and stops
counting print ad pages

The Association of Magazine Media (MPA) in the U.S. has launched a new report called Magazine Media 360 which promises to capture unduplicated average consumer readership across multiple platforms, including print, digital editions, websites and video. Essentially, the MPA is abandoning the measurement of print by ad sales and circulation as its yardstick and 30 of the largest companies such as Condé Nast, Time Inc. and Hearst Magazines, publishing 147 of the major titles in the industry have signed on the the new service.

(Not coincidentally, the measurement of monthly and weekly ad page counts and circulation figures published for almost 70 years in the Media Industry Newsletter is being discontinued and MPA will no longer provide ad data from the Publishers Information Bureau free on its web site. Media reporters will have to pay for it.) 

The new approach relies not on audited information but on sampling of GfK MRI's Survey of the American Consumer, combined with unique visitors data about web traffic, mobile web and video measured by third parties such as comScore Media Metrix, Ipsos, comScore, Nielsen Online, Nielsen NetView and a separate social media report from SocialFlow to come out next month detailing numerical changes from month to month in each brand's Facebook likes and Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and Twitter followers.
“With Magazine Media 360, we finally have a comprehensive accounting of consumer demand for our brands, an imperative for the industry since, with the growth of new, rapidly evolving digital platforms, consumer demand is today’s media currency,” said MPA CEO Mary G. Berner in her presentation to the industry. “In fact, given the success of many magazine brands on those new platforms, continuing to rely on print circulation and ad paging counts in isolation to determine demand for magazine media would be like measuring the viewership of the Super Bowl exclusively based on the people who watched it in the stadium.”
To illustrate how the data will look, MPA provided year-over-year data broken down by category. Print and digital editions increased 2.1 percent, reflecting an audience of 1.01 billion. Web, which encompasses desktop and laptop, fell 4.6 percent, with an audience of 205.3 million, while mobile Web rose to 234 million, or an increase of 97.9 percent. Video expanded 53.1 percent, to 22 million. Added together, all the categories translated to a 10 percent increase, or an audience of 1.48 billion.
The metric isn't meant to sugar-coat the value of a relationship with a magazine brand: In the metric's beta test, 45 out of 147 brands were down year-over-year in audience, Berner said in a story in Capital New York, "so this is not some pie-in-the-sky Pollyanna attempt to present an only-good story." 
A separate social media report, with data from the social media optimization company SocialFlow, will detail numerical changes from month to month in each brand's Facebook likes and Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and Twitter followers. The first social media report comes out next month. 
“Print is still the primary revenue and profit-driver generator in the magazine ecosystem," Berner acknowledged, but "consumer demand for content is right now the key indicator of value" as other platforms hopefully grow in popularity. While the audience for print and digital magazine editions remained relatively flat from August 2013 to the same period in 2014, visitors to mobile magazine websites grew by 97.9 percent and video views increase by 53.1 percent, the inaugural report found.
In a commentary on the new report, D. B. Hebbard of Talking New Media adopted a somewhat sceptical tone, asking if the data will be useful or trusted by media buyers. 
"For advertisers buying across platforms, the new report gives a total picture of audience. But many of the magazine brands look fairly anemic when it comes to their web, mobile and video numbers. Is it necessarily good to show, for instance, that American Photo, which shows over 1 million print and digital edition readers in the report, reaches only 6,000 on the web, and is reporting nothing for mobile web and video? (By way of comparison, American Photo’s latest publisher’s statement shows its total paid and verified circulation at 101,322.)"
Berner said of the numbers: "You'll get used to them" 

In Canada, the Print Measurement Bureau has been collaborating since September 2010 with comScore Canada on a fused database which reports unduplicated audience across two major delivery platforms -- print and online. 

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