As magazines go digital, how is readership measured? This week, Adobe, the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) is answering that question with the announcement of a new standard for digital magazine audience metrics.

The new standard is designed to measure such parameters as number of tablet readers per digital magazine issue, total number of sessions per issue, total amount of time spent per reader per issue and average number of sessions per reader per issue.

Three Problems

Nick Bogaty, Adobe’s Senior Director for Business Development of Digital Publishing, told CMSWire that the new standards, which are being implemented first in Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), are intended to address three main problems in assessing digital magazine readership.

He said these are inconsistent measurement methodologies, no standardized reporting, and varying definitions of the metrics. These deficiencies have resulted, Bogarty said, in “inefficient media comparisons for buyers.”

Ethan Grey, senior vice president of digital strategy and initiatives at MPA, noted that the new standards are the result of the Digital Edition Standardization Initiative (DESI), a task force composed of the MPA, 4As, Adobe, and such leading magazine publishers as TIME Inc, Meredith Corporation, Conde Nast, National Geographic, Martha Stewart Omnimedia and Rodale. The tools, he said, “are created by the publishers, for the publishers, with the buy-in of the advertising community.”

An Adobe DPS screen utilizing the new standards

Available in DPS

Adobe’s DPS is used by the largest magazine publishers to create their tablet-specific editions, and, according to the tool-maker, is employed in the creation of 75 percent of the top grossing digital magazines in Apple’s App Store. The new V28 of DPS, delivered this week, will include these measurement tools.

The Alliance for Audited Media, formerly called the Audit Bureau of Circulations, has audited Adobe’s implementation, and Adobe is sharing its implementation methodology with other tablet publishing tool vendors in order to encourage adoption of the standards.

While a reader is a reader in either a digital or a print version of a magazine, the new digital standard does not otherwise relate to measurements of print publications’ readership. The standards support the iPad, iPhone, Android devices and the Kindle, and are designed for magazines presented in HTML or PDF and delivered through an app rather than ones presented on a website.