The push for better, faster and more precise magazine metrics has gained momentum in recent months, most notably with the news that the Audit Bureau of Circulations will introduce a service called ABC Rapid Report in July that will allow publishers to report circulation by issue within weeks of its on-sale date.
The new plan from Mediamark, commonly called MRI, builds on research that it conducted in 2000 to gauge how quickly different magazine titles build their audiences. That research showed that weeklies tended to accumulate about 80% of their total eventual audiences within one week, while monthlies accumulated around 60% of their audiences within a month.
"Depending on what your goal is, you can see that audience after the first month as additional eyeballs or you can see it as waste," said Kathi Love, president-CEO, MRI. "There's all different sorts of interpretations there."
"The current data that we have out there are better than nothing," Ms. Love added. "But in order to serve the magazine industry better, it would be more useful to be more specific."
Christopher O'Connor, senior VP-group account director, MPG, said the service could definitely help his work. "You want instant build for movie releases," he said, "whereas with a Volvo car, the consideration process is much slower." But it wouldn't end the story, he noted. A magazine whose Jessica Simpson cover attracted nearly its entire audience within two days last year, for example, could have a slower build with that star in 2006, he said.
Test begins in May
After MRI concludes its planned test, which will begin in May, it will show the data to clients and ask for input. It hopes to return to the field with a continuous survey by the end of the third quarter.
The company also wants to show a nimble side to the print industry as the media landscape rapidly shifts. "We're hoping to dispel the notion that MRI is not changing and giving the market the data it needs," Ms. Love said.