The Publisher Research Council (PRC) has appointed research firm Nielsen as its partner to conduct the PAMS reading currency in 2017. Michael Bratt spoke to joint general manager of the PRC, Gordon Muller, to find out more.
After a six month search, managed by independent facilitators, Yardstick, Nielsen won the tender. “Nielsen is thrilled to be working with the PRC and we look forward to a long-term relationship to build a best in class, quality, future-proofed audience measurement currency for readership in South Africa,” said Bryan Sun, managing director of Nielsen Southern Africa.
Muller said Nielsen won the tender as they offered the best solution to the brief that they were given, which was to come up with a way of measuring platform agnostic reading. He emphasised that the tender process was robust with all five of the big research groups – Nielsen, Ipsos, GFK, TNS and Ask Afrika – being invited to tender. TNS and Ask Afrika voluntarily excluded themselves from the process so it came down to the other three.
Research structure and process
Muller also touched on how the PAMS research would be structured. Sampling would comprise core face-to-face interviews, using a stratified probability sample of 10 000 households. While this method might seem like nothing new, there is a big change from past ways of doing things.
Nielsen will use a household flooding technique which will boost the respondent sample to 20 000. Flooding allows for the interviewing of more than one respondent in a household.
If you’re measuring reading behaviour, then flooding makes perfect sense, Muller said as “… not only is it a cost-efficient way to boost the respondent sample size but [also] because it measures the reality of the title’s reader journey within the home. In-home pass-along reading is an inherent property of the medium’s audience delivery”.
In addition, PAMS will be supported by a panel of 5 000 reader respondents which would be directly managed by the PRC. “Panels will give publishers and planners a continuous stream of agile data about readers. Not just dated static readerships. Ultimately consumer panels represent the future of reader research,” said other joint general manager of the PRC, Peter Langschmidt.
Measuring reading vs readership
Langschmidt says publishers have accepted the need to move away from measuring exposure to paper towards measuring platform-agnostic reading behaviour. “You can see that in the ES (Establishment Survey) reading question.”
As Muller said, “Readership is an obscure and obsolete research concept. Reading as a behaviour is a reality of life,” and added that he was disappointed that this shift in mindset about print measurement was news.
“Had SAARF begun to address these issues when the shift in consumer behaviour began five or six years ago, it might have been a different story. But you cannot ignore the reality of consumers’ behaviour and I think what is a concern is that people are running the death of print stories, but no one is interrogating the flip side of that argument which is that reading is not declining. It is just manifesting itself in a different way so what we want to measure is reading,” Muller said.
As its primary mandate, PAMS will provide a reading currency for over 250 titles and supplements. In addition, the PAMS questionnaire will contain demographics and the necessary hooks for multi-basing onto the ES hub-survey, as well as the new ES lifestyle measure which will replace LSMs.
A series of pilots will take place and PAMS fieldwork will begin in March next year. One release of reader data will take place in September 2017 to coincide with the release of the first full year ES survey. From 2018 onwards PAMS data will be released twice annually on a rolling six month basis.
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