MRI looks to improve weekly readership surveys

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Mediamark Research and Intelligence (MRI) has doubled the sample size for its weekly Issue Specific Readership Study and plans to integrate its Starch ad effectiveness tracking into the study in the first half of this year.

The Issue Specific Readership Surveys, which launched in June 2007, offers specific, weekly-updated data on exactly who is reading individual issues of 195 consumer magazine titles. MRI now collects information — including gender, age, education level and income — from 5,000 magazine readers per week, rather than the previous 2,500. Higher numbers should make the information more useful for marketers and publishers.

“Increasing the number in the survey definitely makes for more usable data,” said Anne Marie Kelly, SVP, marketing and strategic planning for MRI. “We give not only the total audience for an individual issue, but we break it down by men and women, age, income, etc. The smaller the sample, the more likely it is you won't be able to break out that demographic group because there just won't be enough people, so by doubling that sample, all the different demographic target groups people want are more usable. From a research perspective, it makes the data much more usable and much more reliable."

Starch, which MRI acquired in August 2008, measures how many people have read a print ad as well as the actions that the ad causes them to take. MRI is developing a combination of Issue Specific and Starch studies in an effort to provide a clearer picture of who is seeing and being impacted by print ads in each issue of a magazine.

“Really, everything we do we're trying to get closer to the holy grail of advertising, which is knowing exactly what an ad does,” Kelly said. “Everything we're doing is getting closer to those ROI metrics that advertisers are asking for.”

MRI's Readership Study is intended to help marketers measure the reach of their print campaigns and better compare the results of print marketing with other marketing channels. Measuring individual issues also helps publishers assess the worth of special issues and possibly sell ads in those at a premium.

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