Is NRS data key to media planning/buying decisions?

National Readership Survey results are based on a survey of an ever-changing pool of adults. But its scope and divergence from newspaper ABC figures leads some to question its significance

Andrew Power
Investment director, press/outdoor/radio, MediaVest

NO

The purpose of the NRS was to serve as a trading currency measurement. But due to its many shortfalls, ABC data has become the standard for rate negotiations almost by default. The reasons for this are that NRS data has a six-month lag time and uses claimed readership figures based on a sample audience. ABC is based on actual sales data, is monthly and can be easily dissected – bulks, frees, overseas copies – giving buyers greater leverage in negotiations, although, at the planning stage, the more in-depth demographic data offered by the NRS is still employed. For NRS to become more relevant, it will have to look at more than just who is reading a title and how often – the Quality of Reading and Accumulation studies were useful but one-off additions. Also, it is vital it starts to provide robust online data, although, with media owners funding nearly 90% of the survey, will it ever be published if it’s not the news they want to hear?

 

Jane Wolfson
Head of non broadcast, Initiative

YES

The NRS has taken a lot of flak, but it is still the most robust piece of audience measurement media research data. As a tool, even with some variances, the NRS is valuable in making planning and buying decisions. It gives a strong indication of how titles are doing and enables buyers to make informed title choices when putting schedules together.
Not every title is on there, but sales teams should be doing a good enough job to ensure those titles are still considered when plans are put together. There is a need for better training in how to use the research effectively and there are plans in place to make this happen now Mike Ironside has joined the company. The NRS isn’t perfect, but his appointment and the plan for changes to further improve the product will make it better.

 

Dan Wood
Associate director, press investment, MediaCom

YES

NRS data sits at the core of our planning and buying decisions. As the most robust of all the audience measurement systems available, it helps to fuel many of the daily conversations we have with strategic teams, clients and media owners. In the climate of turbulent markets and rapidly changing media landscapes, the NRS is a constant benchmark we can all rely on. The failure of online to develop a comparable form of audience measurement can often put it on the back foot when selling ideas to clients. That said, it is clear the NRS does have its weaknesses. More needs to be done to accurately measure urban audiences, but recent moves to embrace a self-completion model in the near future should go some way to address this concern. It also goes without saying that the NRS alone is not enough. Real world consumer insight and a firm knowledge of clients’ businesses must always be added to any measurement tool.

 

Justin Barns
Media director, Carat

YES

There are numerous faults with the NRS system – the time lag between circulation and readership figures is frustrating; monitoring freesheets is still an issue and there have been questions over the number of younger urban audiences included in the survey and a bias toward an older demographic sample. Agencies do use bespoke cluster groups for audience understanding and planning purposes. However, the NRS is still the most widely accepted industry tool by media agencies, media owners and clients. Therefore, it’s in a good position to be able to adapt and become more relevant in the fragmented media landscape. A reliable combined print and online readership mechanism will be essential. With changing consumer lifestyles and the increasing number of media platforms, topline readership numbers are becoming less relevant.

 

 

 

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