Date of publication: June 13, 2002

Author: Barbara L. Zack


This paper shows evidence that reach and frequency estimates used for print planning in the United States are likely flawed. Cumulative net reach appears significantly understated (and frequency is overstated) for magazines that distribute a high proportion of their circulation at newsstand (vs. magazines with less newsstand distribution). It is likely that the reach of pass-along reading is similarly understated. Advertisers who have heavy newsstand titles on their schedule are getting much greater reach than the readership numbers suggest, relative to those who rely more heavily on other titles. The culprit seems to be the self-reported frequency-of-reading data that is collected by readership surveys. These findings are applicable to all readership studies that use self-reported frequency-of-reading to build reach estimates.

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