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NY Times Joins ABC Reader Profile Service

The New York Times Co. has enrolled in the Audit Bureau of Circulations' Reader Profile service to verify readership studies for its flagship broadsheet newspaper.

Reader Profile offers verified total readership numbers that complement ABC-audited circulation data used to set media budgets and perform campaign analysis.

“Reader Profile helps us give our advertising partners ready access to an important cross-section of objectively verified readership numbers that, when combined with audited circulation figures, facilitate more informed, cost-effective buying decisions,” Janet L. Robinson, senior vice president of newspaper operations at New York Times Co. and president/general manager of the flagship paper, said in a statement.

The New York Times joins three-fourths of the nation's major papers, including the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Miami Herald and the Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News, in using the ABC service.

The Times' participation is also part of a trend among newspaper publishers to offer standardized readership research and report verification.

Reader Profile auditors since 1999 have worked with a newspaper's research company to use real-time verification methods before, during and after field research is conducted, Schaumburg, IL-based ABC said.

Specifically, the procedures verify reported readership findings. The resultant reports outline these figures along with 11 key demographics.

Newspapers have publicized their audited circulation numbers to verify distribution in order to satisfy advertisers. But the distribution numbers often miss the pass-along factor.

ABC recently introduced a white paper with an analysis of 250 verified readership studies conducted by 20 independent researchers. The findings, available on www.accessabc.com/reader, were interesting.

First, current calculations typically underestimate the actual readers-per-copy of most newspapers. Next, the number of adult readers-per-copy is growing, especially on Sundays.

Take the New York Times. Its daily and Sunday circulation for the six months ending Sept. 30 rose, according to figures filed with the ABC that are subject to audit.

In particular, daily net paid circulation year-over-year was up 0.5 percent, or 5,565 copies, to 1,118,565 copies. Sunday Times net paid circulation increased 0.3 percent, or 5,020 copies, to reach 1,676,885.

The New York Times claims it is the country's largest seven-day newspaper. It is part of a $3.1 billion publishing conglomerate that includes The Boston Globe, The International Herald Tribune, 16 other papers, eight network-affiliated television stations, two New York radio stations and 40-plus Web sites.

Uniquely for its category, The New York Times' reach is widening even in an anemic market. The newspaper is home-delivered in 253 markets nationwide, up fourfold from 62 seven years ago. And it is sold at more than 58,000 newsstand and retail outlets nationwide, up about 60 percent from 36,000 in 1997.

The Times continues to grow even in a challenging economy and marketing environment, Scott Heekin-Canedy, senior vice president for circulation of The New York Times, said in a statement.

“We expect that growth to continue because of our national expansion efforts, because our college and university circulation is providing us with a strong foothold in many markets, and because our subscriber retention rates remain high,” Heekin-Canedy said.

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