NAA President Responds to E&P Readership Column

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By: E&P Staff

In a letter to E&P, the President of the Newspaper Association of America responds to an article in our October print issue, now online in the Columns section, about newspapers’ efforts (or lack thereof) to accurately measure readership. The full text is included below.


In Jennifer Saba’s article “Readership Ready to Sail?”, Prudential Equity Research Analyst Steven Barlow argues that, “For all the noise made about readership, not enough newspapers are making an effort to measure it.” Prudential bases its claim on the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Reader Profile information, and notes that because some of the nation’s largest newspapers don’t subscribe to this data, “making newspaper-to-newspaper comparisons would be impossible.”

In fact, readership of more than 300 newspapers, including all of the top 50, are measured twice a year by Scarborough Research, a third-party audience data supplier accredited by the Media Rating Council and used by more than 500 advertising agencies daily to evaluate newspapers in their national media plans. Newspapers make significant investments to have their audience measured by Scarborough and other suppliers to ensure advertisers have access to current, credible and comparable data. In addition:

— The Newspaper Association of America’s Newspaper Audience Database (NAdbase), aggregates print and online audience data from Scarborough Research and newspaper Web site data from Nielsen//NetRatings. More than 100 newspapers representing almost all major markets participate in NAdbase, including such “notable players” as The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News and the New York Post.

— The data are fresh, with regular updates every spring and fall. Last week the database was enhanced with the introduction of a new interactive tool built by Scarborough Research that allows advertisers (and Wall Street analysts) to easily generate their own reports on national and local newspaper print and online audience data. These reports reflect the most accurate measure of newspapers’ full reach and audience.

— Members of the advertising community agree readership is important. In a recent conference call to discuss the database, Audrea Fulton of Carat said NADbase “puts newspapers on a more level playing field” and is “a positive step forward toward understanding how newspapers function.”

While NAA believes both circulation and readership are important measures of the newspaper audience, simply counting circulation numbers in a vacuum obscures understanding of how consumers actually use newspapers. Competition for audiences in a time of massive attention deficit means that we have to get full credit for all the people we reach and how we reach them. Readership not only is ready to sail as a valid audience metric, but it’s charting a new course.

John F. Sturm
President and Chief Executive Officer
Newspaper Association of America
Vienna, Va.

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