Industry expert Julian Baim, chief research officer of print rating service MRI describes the evolution of circulation and audience measurement.
Q: How would you describe what MRI does in 3 sentences or less?
A: We’re a print rating service for the top 200+ magazines and national newspapers, and we are a single source database for multimedia [consumer] behavior.
Q: What makes MRI’s research useful for circulation marketers?
A: We now have an issue-specific study, which looks at the variability or performance of each issue of the circulator’s magazine. Circulation marketers can evaluate the performance of these issues — the audience data — against the circulation figures provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulations or the Business Publishers Association. With that, they can look at different drivers of audience, such as cover lines, celebrity appeal, even the color of the covers, to see what might be driving people to read an issue.
Q: How do circulation measurement and audience measurement work together?
A: Circulation will always have a role because magazines have to document that they are selling copies. However, magazines have to compete against other media, and they have to compete on common metrics. There is no such thing as circulation for TV or the Internet — what you are looking at is actual viewers or hits. To that degree, circulation measurement has to take something of a backseat to audience measurement if magazines are going to compete successfully.
Q: Has your data collection method changed over the years?
A: It has changed. The foundation study for MRI is conducted in-person with 26,000 subjects a year. But that does not get to the granularity of issue-specific data or noting the ads in the magazine. For that reason, we have added Internet surveys — 300,000 to 400,000 a year — to augment the in-person survey.
Q: What is the next step for magazine measurement?
A: We introduced “Admeasure” in June, which is a measurement of the number of people who note the ads within a particular issue of a magazine. We combine that with issue-specific measures and our national study to provide measurement on the audience of people for each ad.