News media preparing for print + digital audience reporting


News media with print DNA may serve more readers than a decade ago. However, a large group of advertisers will be unaware of this fact.

A number of old-school media professionals are still focusing on the downward trend of news print circulation. This leads to unnecessary damage of reputation of news brands, so there is an obvious need for news media to shift the focus from print alone to the full spectrum of their portfolios.

Such a broad view of full media brand performance calls for a widely accepted, undisputed audience reporting of the complete footprint of news media.

In the Netherlands, a couple of advanced initiatives for cross-media reporting are being developed. In this blog post, two of those initiatives are discussed: the extension of the national print currency and the introduction of a time consumption study, Media:time Cross Media.


A combined reporting of both online and offline media is easier said than done. Digital media require passive measurement as a lot of Internet users are not fully aware of their journeys through the online landscape. The endless stream of online analytics all report (unique) devices, not unique persons. For the latter, an online panel is needed with users of all relevant digital devices.

For measurement of a print audience, the familiar questionnaires are still the most reliable method of data collection. So the challenge is: How can you deliver an integrated reporting of both printed and online media channels?

NOM: 360 reporting of media brands

NOM Media, the Dutch joint industry committee (JIC) for audience measurement of print media, recognised the need for cross-media reporting a few years ago.

The research organisation focuses on media with the emphasis on reading. Media that are consumed by listening and watching are covered by other media currencies. NOM has developed a clear model of how to establish a full report of media brands in all their appearances.

The research organisation figuratively broke out of the box (1) by adding two extra dimensions to the usual print research. The first extension is from just print to all touch points that belong to a media brand.

For this purpose, the print questionnaire is extended with validated questions about online media consumption. This information will not be used to report the online audience but is utilised for the data fusion with the audience of online media.

Earlier collaboration between the JICs has resulted in equal questionnaires, mutual norms, and hooks to facilitate the data fusion.

In addition to online reach, NOM Media has also started to collect census (circulation) information. For this purpose, the NOM organisation has taken over all activities of the Dutch audit bureau of circulation.

From 2015 onward, data for print circulation will be extended with metrics for e-papers, newsletters, news sites, news apps, etc. NOM will not be collecting all this data itself, but concentrates on creating undisputed definitions for these media metrics.

The added value of census data is that the metrics will be able to report brands and products that are too niche to be found in regular panels. Thanks to this enhancement, the long tail of media consumption can be reported. Census data can also be used for calibration of the metrics from panel measurement.

With this portfolio of media performance metrics, NOM Media will be able to serve all news media – large or small, analogue or print. The media houses will be in a position to present their total brand audiences and the profile of their readers. Even niche titles and niche products will be able to show undisputed metrics.

The model has recently been introduced in the Dutch market. 2015 will be a year of drafting definitions, entering partnerships, and starting data collection. The year after, news media may proudly show the full performance of their news brands. This may finally end the tunnel vision on the printed circulation.

Media:time Cross Media

Media:time is a joint initiative of the national media currencies for reading, watching, listening, and online surfing. Four parties joined forces to create two compatible projects: a time consumption survey and the creation of a cross-media audience data set.

The time consumption survey is called Media:Time. Media:Time reports a day in the life of a media consumer. What media activities, media carriers, and media content does the Dutch population use?

Media consumption studies have been done before, but this study will also be used as a “hub” – as a connection – between the existing audience measurements. The objective is to use Media:time for creating a single-source media data set. For this purpose, all existing media currencies will be integrated by means of data fusing.

This new comprehensive data source is called Media:time Cross-Media. The data fusion is carried out by RSMB from the United Kingdom, specialist in complex data fusion and creator of the English front-runner, TouchPoints.

From “offering” to “strategy advice”

With the readily availability of these new data sets and planning tools, a whole new era for news media marketing dawns. News media will be able to create useful insights for the news domain, a serious option within the whole spectrum of advertising possibilities.

Together with sports and life entertainment, the news domain will be a strong advertising environment for advertisers. The data will even deliver proof of the strong engagement of news media as well as the availability of indispensible target audiences.

With the total footprint of the news audience, news brands will be able to show positive trends and attractive target groups. And even more important, news media owners will be in a position to consult about the right blend of media channels for a certain advertising strategy.

This possibility to advise advertisers about effective strategies is a big step forward from mostly just a supporting act in existing campaigns.

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