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Changes To Newspaper Readership Measurements

Proposed Changes To Newspaper Readership Measurement Expected To Bring Better, Faster And More Dynamic Reporting.

During 2003, the Newspaper industry has carried out a review of the measurement of newspaper readership in New Zealand.

The review has been extensive, and has been conducted in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including media and creative agencies, advertisers and national, metropolitan and regional newspapers. A number of key requirements for the new readership survey were identified from the consultation process. These included the need for more frequent reporting of newspaper readership data, a faster turnaround of results and more dynamic and flexible data.

The review process has taken several months to complete and the newspaper industry has now, in principle, accepted the proposal put forward by Nielsen Media Research for taking the National Readership Survey into 2004 and beyond.

One of the main methodological changes that will take place is the move away from the use of paper questionnaires to the use of CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing), where interviewers administer the questionnaire via a tablet PC. It is anticipated that a number of benefits will result from this change, including faster data processing, a shorter interview length and a more interesting and professional interview experience for the respondent. Feedback on overseas readership surveys, that have previously introduced CAPI technology, suggests that the use of CAPI for these surveys has been very successful and that many benefits have accrued as a result of this change in the data capture technique.

One of the key requirements of the review was to be able to provide the marketplace with more frequent reporting on daily newspaper readership figures. From 2004, the minimum currency period for national and metropolitan markets will become 6 months, (as opposed to the current 12-month period), whilst for regional newspapers the minimum currency period will become 12 months. This will be mainly achieved through an increase in the sample size of the survey.

Another exciting development for 2004 will be the creation of a National Readership Access Panel. This will be a panel recruited from the main readership survey and is expected to have over 10,000 panel members by the end of 2004. This panel will provide huge opportunities for collecting new and more in-depth insights into newspaper readership and the effectiveness of newspaper advertising.

Before being implemented, all proposed changes to the readership research will be tested via an extensive piloting programme. This will mean that any potential effects these changes may have on the research can be fully evaluated.

The new readership measurement ensures that New Zealand remains in-line with global readership research trends. Feedback from the recent Worldwide Readership Research Symposium in Boston confirms that the key components of New Zealand’s readership survey are consistent with what is currently considered to be world best practice. This includes the continuing use of face-to-face interviewing, the use of CAPI for data capture, mastheads as visual prompts and a shorter interview duration. New Zealand has also performed well globally in terms of its survey response rates, managing to keep these relatively static over the last few years, in comparison to many other countries who have experienced considerable declines over the same period. The proposed changes to the New Zealand readership survey for 2004 are also designed to address the issue of response rates, with the primary initiative being the introduction of more attractive respondent incentives.

Sheila Berry, Research Manager at the Newspaper Advertising Bureau comments, “the newspaper industry firmly believes that these developments, along with other proposed changes to the National Readership Survey, will provide a more frequent, flexible and dynamic measure of newspaper readership in New Zealand. This will ensure that newspapers remain competitive against other media within the New Zealand marketplace”.

The Newspaper Advertising Bureau in conjunction with Nielsen Media Research will host a briefing session in March to present this new measurement to the industry.

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