The way we consume media has changed. While people often have a fixed view of what publication they buy in print, website usage is much more varied.
Readers are not tied down to any one site. When looking for something consumers will likely go to the first source that can provide that information, not to mention all the other non-publisher websites they visit too.
As Katherine Page, National Readership Survey technical consultant, told me, “Whereas a decade ago perhaps people were very committed to a single paper, we now see much more sampling and people going from one thing to another. So readers of one paper might be looking at the websites of others. It’s very interesting to see the nature of readership changing.”
In light of this changing landscape, the NRS unveiled plans for Print and Digital Data (PADD) at the end of last year (nma.co.uk 2 December 2011), the first results of which were revealed today (nma.co.uk 12 September 2012).
And while the combined print and online figures present clear value for the planning and buying community, in addition to the publishers themselves of course, it is the ability to draw insight from user journeys, from print to online, that is really exciting.
Readers access any number of sites on a daily basis, and particularly when looking for news there’s no guarantee they will always go back to the same source. Likewise, as Page mentioned, an avid print reader doesn’t necessarily make an avid online reader. So access to this data will let publishers see where there is a disconnect and potentially inform them how to entice those readers and encourage them to be more loyal online by giving them more of what they want.
Plus, as data for more than 400 non-publisher sites is also included it will allow publishers to see common connections and build a more in-depth view of readers, across a spectrum of sites.
This data has been a long time coming, although it took even longer than planned as the first report was originally scheduled for release in spring, but was stalled as Nielsen (which currently provides panel data for UKOM, but will be replaced by comScore in January) changed the way it recorded audiences.
But even without that delay it is long overdue - the NRS itself said it is its most significant development in 50 years - and the picture is still not quite complete as mobile and tablet data is not yet included, however this is on the agenda for 2013.
But nonetheless it is a massive step forward. It is now down to publishers to use this additional layer of data to their advantage.