Measuring readership of newspaper sections on the UK NRS

Date of publication: November 1, 1995


For many years UK national newspapers have published additional sections given away with the main newspaper and while these were few and in the form of colour magazines, they were measured as separate titles. In 1988 the power of the press unions was severely curbed and this created a surge of additional sections of all shapes and sizes, some of which were quite short lived, being very much subject to the whim of editorial control, in fighting for a place in a highly competitive market place. Many of the new, unmeasured sections carry very large amounts of display advertising revenue, some of them as much as the larger magazines measured by the NRS and many of them much more than the smaller magazine titles measured. This being the case advertisers and agencies have been demanding a direct measure of their readership for many years. The demand is easy to make, a solution is difficult to find - politics, finance and technical difficulties - all must be overcome. This paper explains the difficulties, charts the actions and investigations of NRS in attempting to find a solution to supplying useful measures or guidance on readership of sections for its users. It will talk about alternative routes that have been considered, from low cost research that might give indications of readership to high cost solutions that would get as close to a realistic measure as is possible, within the present state of the art. It will assess the desirability of these possibilities within the needs of the UK marketplace. The problem has not been solved but NRS thinking is developing week by week, the paper will report on where we have got to at the time of the seminar and how the issue in might be dealt with by NRS in the future.

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