Measuring issue specific audiences

Historically, print audience research in the United States has revolved around generating an average-issue audience estimate for
measured magazines. This metric was necessary and desirable due to the requirements of large sample sizes to produce valid
and relatively efficient estimates for over 200 national magazines, and to the time necessary to complete the study using an inperson
mode. In recent years, however, agencies and advertisers have sought more accountability from the print industry and
have insisted on more granular, immediate data to meet these demands. Their desire has been driven in part by the need to
evaluate magazine audience information in a timeframe similar to their receiving television and Internet data. Among their
specific needs are:
· An estimate for each issue of a magazine (based upon the assumption that specific issue audiences of a magazine
differ from one another due to circulation variation, cover story, seasonality, competitive offerings, etc.)
· Delivery of that estimate within a reasonable time after the on-sale date of the specific issue
In order to meet these demands, in late May 2006 MRI introduced a companion study to the National Study that moves beyond
the average issue measure to provide audience information for each issue of a title. Based on the assumption that not every issue
of a magazine yields the same audience size, this Issue Specific Study has as its primary objective the measurement of audience
variability from issue-to-issue. This paper discusses the methodology employed to measure issue-specific audiences and
describes some of the initial findings of this study. (A more detailed analysis of these data can be found in a separate paper
delivered by Klein et al. at this Symposium.)

 

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