Print Measurement Bureau (PMB) is updating its annual readership study to include more qualitative insight about how readers engage with editorial content and advertising, as well as the role various media sources play in the path to purchase.
While the PMB study has traditionally included metrics such as “degree of interest,” “time spent reading” and “number of occasions read,” president Steve Ferley said the updates address member requests for more robust planning information.
“We’re always trying to react as quickly as we possibly can to the industry’s needs,” said Ferley, who said the study additions were developed in consultation with the industry. “What the buyers and sellers are asking for these days is broader, more extensive information – how do readers identify with the various media?”
Beginning with the 2014 fieldwork – with the first data appearing in the spring 2015 study – the PMB survey will now include information such as the degree of attention paid to ads in a given medium and actions taken as a result of the ads. “It’s more qualitative guidance about the medium and about other media,” said Ferley.
The inclusion of these extra questions won’t affect the existing PMB study “in the slightest” said Ferley, since they will be included in the leave-behind product questionnaire that accompanies the in-person study.
Ferley said that some questions from the previous questionnaire – which last year totaled 88 pages with more than 100 companies sponsoring brand data – will be eliminated to accommodate the new research. On average, about 60% of the 12,000 people who participate in the PMB study fill out the extensive product usage portion.
Ferley said that the high response rate is achieved because in-home interviewers build up a “tremendous rapport” with respondents, and invite them to take their time completing the questionnaire. Interviewers return to respondents’ home to pick up the questionnaire; according to Ferley, the response rate fell significantly when PMB tested allowing respondents to mail back the questionnaire.
PMB is also incorporating a series of questions related to so-called “path-to-purchase” that will try to determine which media sources consumers consult when making a purchase in specific product categories such as travel and automotive.
PMB and the Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank) announced their intention to combine the two readership studies last fall. Buyers and publishers said the need for this type of expanded data, as well as cost savings, were among the primary reasons for the merger.
“They are areas that are of interest to the media industry at the moment, and that’s what we have to react to,” said Ferley. “It dovetails perfectly with the discussions we’re having with NADbank, and merging the two studies. Those discussions are complex, but they are ongoing.”
PMB also announced that its spring 2014 release will feature comScore website data as part of its main database, making it easier for users to load and access. ComScore data has been included in its past seven releases, but has traditionally been released several weeks after the main study.