New audience measurement helps publishers capture multi-platform data

By Sara Hill


Toronto, Canada


Vividata provides single-source print and digital audience metrics for Canadian magazines and newspapers. In the fall of 2014, Canada’s newspaper and magazine measurement bodies merged to form the amalgamated organisation of NADbank and PMB.

Close to a year later, the first results of the new readership research were released under the organisation’s new branding, Vividata.

The need: Amalgamation and a new study

For the last century, magazines and newspapers have been defined as printed periodicals. Over the past two decades, print media has adapted to changes in consumer behaviour by moving beyond print-only formats.

However, audience measurement in Canada continued to be based primarily on traditional print metrics.

While newspapers (through NADbank) had started reporting some cross-platform data in 2012, magazines continued to capture only print readership by title through PMB. Elsewhere in the world, changes were underway to measure readership “beyond the printed page.”

Stakeholders from the Canadian publishing industry and advertisers and their agencies recognised the need to build a better audience measurement service reflecting dramatic changes in consumer media behaviour, while also responding to economic pressures on the industry.

The challenge: The new measurement should provide a single source of compatible currencies for both newspapers and magazines. The new measurement should capture the entire brand footprint (print and digital) and provide data on cross-platform use. Finally, it should be future-proof, allowing for longer term adoption of additional measurement options, such as passive measurement.

After a rigorous RFP process, a new audience measurement platform was adopted in mid-2014. In November 2014, NADbank and PMB amalgamated to create a new organisation.

In January 2015, fieldwork started for the new single-source print and digital readership survey. This new organisation has rebranded as Vividata, and it is under this banner that the first results of the new study were released in October 2015.

The new study: Single-source print and digital study

The new audience measurement has replaced the two previous separate magazine and newspaper surveys with a single-source study with a significantly larger sample, more frequent and timely data releases, and measurement of all newspapers and magazines’ print and digital products.

Survey pilot: Prior to launching the new methodology, a six-week pilot test was conducted in Canada’s two largest markets from October to November 2014. The objective of the pilot was to test the methodology in terms of data collection mechanics, survey design, questionnaire response time, sample composition, and completion rates.

Additionally, it was meant to assess resultant changes in readership levels and completion of a product usage questionnaire.

Based on pilot results, some changes were made to the questionnaire design for the new study which went into field in January, six months after the RFP decision.

New study details

The new single-source study has 36,000 completes per year from a probability-based sample aged 12+ and over, sampled at a market level and built to a national sample. Respondents are recruited offline, using random digit dialing, to take part in an online survey. Readership and product usage data is released quarterly with rolling 12-month data.

Reading in Canada has not changed, but the new methodology has produced different readership results. The following table lists some of the factors impacting newspaper readership between Vividata and the previous NADbank study.

The outcome: A whole new read on readers

The first results of the new single-source print and digital study were released in October 2015, reflecting the first six months of fieldwork. The first full year of new data will be released in March 2016, based on January-December 2015 fieldwork.

Thereafter, rolling 12-month results will be released quarterly – a significant departure from previous methodologies in terms of timeliness and frequency.

All releases contain cross-platform readership results for magazines and newspapers, unduplicated reach metrics by publication across platforms: print + net digital, metrics on consumers’ relationships with publishing brands, and a comprehensive database of consumer media habits, lifestyles, and product usage.

In my next blog post, I will share results from our first 12-month release and discuss some of the challenges we have faced during the first year of our new readership study.

About Sara Hill

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