A & S READERSHIP DATA UNDER REVIEW: EARLY RESULTS SHOW METHODOLOGY YIELDS AVERAGE COMPARABLE TO RIVALS

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Audits & Surveys Worldwide has completed its first total-audience syndicated magazine survey and results include an average of 5.3 readers per copy, lower than some observers anticipated.

But it will take months of evaluation of the new data by the magazines and ad agencies before conclusions can be reached on how the survey stacks up to that from rivals Mediamark Research Inc. and Simmons Market Research Bureau.

A&S Senior VP Paul Donato said an average of 5.3 readers per copy is in line with MRI and Simmons averages for total audience.

'MORE CONSISTENT'

"Compared to Simmons or MRI, we are a lot less likely to get 12 readers per copy or two readers per copy. It tends to be more consistent," said Mr. Donato.

Some had predicted the numbers would be inflated using A&S' new methodology, which surveys a magazine's subscriber and newsstand base using a mailed survey.

"That finding says the data are credible. People are not going to reject them out of hand because they came within the range of expectation," said James Spaeth, president of the Advertising Research Foundation. "[But] the industry will have to look at and live with the data before they know what they are going to do with [the survey]. It takes a while before all the implications are fully realized."

Some advertisers are already looking at the new methodology as a way to study ad effectiveness. Mr. Donato said automotive, computer, credit-card and cosmetic advertisers have commissioned him to use the surveys as a base to measure ad effectiveness and sales response.

YOUTH READERSHIP

What may be the most significant part of the new study -- data showing under-18 readership of magazines -- will not be released for several more weeks. This research is considered key because of the upcoming tobacco industry agreement that includes a ban on advertising to children, leaving tobacco advertisers and magazines searching for a way to accurately measure readers under 18 years of age for each magazine (AA, June 9).

Mr. Donato believes the new study may be a way to insure that smaller magazines' numbers are accurately reflected rather than estimated or "prototyped" based on the data of larger magazines, as often happens with MRI and Simmons studies. The A&S studies allow users to compare subscriber, newsstand and total-audience data.

Most of the titles that signed on for the first A&S study believed they were not accurately represented by total-audience studies from MRI and Simmons since the majority of their audiences were not reached by those companies' surveying methods, which include interviews in people's homes.

COUNTING CONDE NAST

Conde Nast Publications VP-Research Steve Blacker said when Conde Nast agreed to participate in the primary audience studies last spring that professional women and college students were inadequately reached by MRI's methodology.

Conde Nast, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today were early supporters of the new A&S surveys.

"We are enthusiastic about" the data, said Journal VP-Advertising Paul Atkinson, adding that the newspaper "has been looking for a research method that captures

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