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Welcome to NRS PADD

Rufus Olins, CEO of Newsworks, warmly welcomes next week’s launch of NRS PADD, which he describes as a giant leap for newsbrands. Combined readership figures have landed.

By Rufus Olins

Monday marks a turning point in the newspaper industry: the launch of NRS PADD – the National Readership Survey’s new report of combined Print and Digital Data. For the first time, newsbrands will be able to see an estimate of their print readership, their online readership and, most importantly, a combined readership figure. It’s a significant step – indeed, a great leap - forward allowing advertisers and agencies to harness the power of newsbrands for their clients.

National newspapers have – ironically perhaps - had a negative press about declining print readership. What many often fail to understand, or neglect to mention, is the fact that the loss in print readership numbers is more than compensated for by the numbers consuming national newspaper content via digital platforms. It’s why Newsworks – the marketing body for the national newspaper industry – talks not just about national newspapers but about newsbrands.

This rise in online media consumption is an important message for advertisers and their agencies so that they better understand the audience for newsbrands – across all platforms – and how best to reach and engage with their target audiences.

With an ever-changing media landscape, the ability to provide credible readership figures is an increasingly vexed issue for the whole industry – and until now, no single survey could provide ‘print-plus-online’ readership figures for newsbrands. NRS was led by its stakeholders (newspapers, magazines and advertising agencies) – all of whom wanted an industry-standard measurement to monitor overall media consumption that would reflect this online growth.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply add your online and print readerships together and come up with a meaningful combined figure. Equally, agency planners cannot simply compare newsbrands based on offline figures alone. The project led by NRS has involved a great deal of expertise, insight and hard work. Significant time has been invested in working with the separate datasets – NRS and UKOM/Nielsen – to ensure that the combined, de-duplicated figures are as accurate as possible.

That newsbrands engage the nation is not in doubt – you need look no further than the recent Olympics and Paralympics coverage to see this: YouGov research found that nearly 80% of adults had consumed national newspaper content in either printed or online form, and that more people turned to newspapers than the likes of Facebook, Twitter or You Tube for updates. Equally certain is the ability of newsbrands to build advertisers’ brands and engage customers. What NRS PADD offers for the first time is a spotlight – across print and online - on who the audiences are, where they come from, what they are reading and for how long. With this sort of information now available, agencies will be able to see the online page views and dwell times of different demographic groups and be able to target their desired audiences more effectively.

As the media landscape continues to evolve, so too will audience measurement. The industry will continue to make refinements to its tools. NRS has already said that it would like to include tablet and mobile users in its audience figures in the future.

Until then, we should welcome the PADD initiative as an important step forward for newsbrands and magazines - and a valuable tool for advertisers and agencies.