The main U.S. newspaper auditing group, Audit Bureau of Circulations
(ABC), has announced that it will now include newspapers' print, online and combined readership figures in its biannual reports, citing that "the numbers are a key factor in negotiations on newspaper advertising rates between newspapers and marketers."ABC calls Audience-FAX, to which the new initiative is referred, "the latest step in a multilevel industry initiative to answer advertisers’ needs for measurement data that reflects newspapers’ full reach and audience." Readership for print publications has been steadily declining for some time, and have prompted advertisers to shift more of their print budget to other media outlets, specifically the Web. The press release
notes that monthly Web site unique visitors will be reported from sources such as Nielsen//NetRatings, comScore Inc. or server-based analytics tools.
The Audience-FAX initiative will focus both on Scarborough
-measured newspapers in the top 81 U.S. metropolitan markets (Designated Market Areas) and on newspapers in smaller markets.
Participating metropolitan papers that elect to participate will be required to report print readership, online readership, net combined audience and Web site usage, while newspapers in other markets will have the option to participate using their readership and Web usage research vendors.
Previously, newspapers only had the option to report print readership and overall Web site traffic figures in addition to their circulation numbers. By including web readers as well as print subscribers, publishers hope to persuade advertisers to see the total exposure that their advertising has.
However, advertisers will most likely need more information than just readership numbers to figure out how effective their ads are and if there is more to be gained from solely advertising online or in addition to their print ads. As more traditionally print-oriented newspapers embrace the Web
as a viable and valuable media outlet for readers, it behooves them to use their Web analytics tools for more than just number crunching to help persuade marketers to stay.
Audience-FAX is expected to launch on Nov. 5th and will cover the Sept. 2007 six-month ABC reporting period.