Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Publisher Research Council of SA (PRC) last week released groundbreaking research in the form of the first Publisher Audience Measurement Survey (PAMS). The survey measures reading results across platforms, and will better inform the buying and selling of advertising. The overriding finding of the survey is that paper is still the dominant reading platform, at 82%.

Peter Langschmidt, a consultant to the PRC, explains that the survey aims to deliver an accurate measurement of reading behaviour across platforms. To achieve this, even the common definition of reading was revisited – the research included the phrase “reading for one minute or longer, across all platforms and devices; namely paper, desktop/laptop, mobile devices and tablets”.

Making use of global best practice, the survey used a “brand-first” approach: respondents selected titles, and online and paper formats were measured. In a world first for reading surveys, the PAMS used a method known as “flooding”, which allows multiple members of the same household to be interviewed.   

Findings generated by the PAMS research are generally consistent with those of the All Media and Products Survey (AMPS), and a few comparisons between the two surveys have already been made.

Mediology’s Johannesburg media director, Claire Herman, says the agency is looking forward to getting into the new data, as the company has been been working with dated information for some time.  “After viewing the topline feedback at the launch, we were happy to see that some of our intuitive views on readership were confirmed. In addition, the data was fairly consistent with what we previously knew from AMPS. For example, readership of newspapers on mobile is higher than [that of] magazines, showing that people still have a close relationship with their best-loved magazines, which goes to show that print is not yet dead,” she says.

What is particularly exciting is that the research allows one to see the overlap between hard copy and online readership at title level, which allows for more informed decisions about individual titles and their reader communities.  However, Herman says that a glaring – and unfortunate – omission from the study is the measurement of community press titles.

The PAMS research shows that the top 10 ranked daily newspapers are similar to those identified by AMPS, with the Daily Sun, Sowetan and Isolezwe taking the top three spots. Magazines follow a similar pattern, with nine of the top 12 titles matching in both studies.

PAMS also correlates with other large sample research, including Statistics SA’s Community Survey 2016, suggesting that there are no obvious inaccuracies in the new research.

The big take-out:

The Publisher Audience Measurement Survey, produced by the Publisher Research Council of SA, represents a milestone in reading research that will help the media industry make informed decisions around titles and their readerships.