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Media news

Measuring media content - not as simple as it looks

Media is not as simple as it was. We all know and understand this. What is less understood is how the decline of traditional media and the uptake of "new" media is causing havoc with the measurement of media.
Ask Africa's Strategic Innovations Director, Grant Robertson, attended the recent international Print and Digital Research Forum Symposium in Nice, France. A host of topics were discussed at the Symposium which was attended by researchers. "Measurement was one of the key areas discussed," said Robertson at an exclusive feedback brunch for select media.

"Traditional media has been impacted by the digital world and more people are migrating to reading on digital. (This digital reader is very different to the print reader.) The result is a host of hybrid models from media owners. However there are still more questions than answers and an important one is how do we measure these models?" said Robertson.

An important point from the Symposium is that print still delivers good value for advertisers (Image: Garry Knight from London, England, via Wikimedia Commons)
The traditional ways of doing research are being eroded away. The result of the digital impact is fragmentation and the result of this is that traditional measurements are picking up less and less of the audience. "As a result we know increasingly less about audiences. Media owners, who are adding various media platforms to their traditional offering, and creating this long tail, want the tail to be measured," explains Robertson.

Passive measures are the future

Data collection still mostly traditional. Very few digital and mixed methodologies are actually used - only South Africa and Uruguay use tablets. However measuring digital platforms is becoming the norm.

Examples of passive measures are being added. Robertson says that this is the future, despite the methodological problems we are experiencing now. "The basics still remain the same, but many companies now measure engagement and softer metrics that are proving to be more valuable as audience behaviour is changing.

"The implications are that the audience response is more important than the number of audience. Media owners want engagement metrics, but our current measuring tools not suited for this."

Today's audiences do not have time for questionnaires or the questionnaires are too long and so the refusal rates are up. Currency extension is being used in the interim, but this is not a long term solution, says Robertson. "Currency expansion is the next step."

There is also no agreement on metrics. "There must be a common metric to be agreed to by the media. In the meantime there is a lot of data coming through, but quality not always good. One robust single survey into which all the other surveys can link into is key, but for this to happen, all the stakeholders must collaborate."

An important point from the Symposium is that print still delivers good value for advertisers. This is despite the forecast that globally print will have a 0% growth (in SA the forecast is 5%). "Over the past five years the global magazine revenue has been flat with big markets such as the US and Europe seeing a decline in revenue."

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach was the editor and publisher of Advantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. Before her editorship, she was deputy-editor as well as freelancing for over a year on the publication before that. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B, in the fields of marketing, mining, disability marketing, advertising and media.
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