Ink-Smudged Numbers Change Digital Directions
WebiMax Contributor, May 2, 2012
Are the newspapers getting more digitally savvy? Most news organizations view marketers and large content-pushing entities as the 'competition.' Where are you reading that story, from the pages of the New York Times or from Mashable? If you're used to reading online, it's likely you've heard of Mashable and use the site to find the latest news, even though it may have been published elsewhere first.
The electronic leg-up online has on offline has resulted in a lack of readership from traditional news sources. However, recent stats from the Audit Bureau of Circulations report a surge in circulation as compared to the same period last year.
The NY Times saw the biggest increase (surprisingly the media entity issuing the story). The brand's daily circulation (including digital subscriptions- it would HAVE to these days) increased by 73% from the previous year. As would seem obvious, the Times blame its popularity on its digital subscription platform (rolled out in March of 2011).
The Times made the biggest 'comeback'; but, who is still tops in the traditional newspaper charts? It's the Wall Street Journal. They have a total average daily circulation of over 2 million. USA Today is second, followed by the New York Times, LA Times, and NY's Daily News. The rank of the top newspapers remains unchanged since the last audit in September of 2011.
Numbers, they can be manipulated. It's a marketing method often used by advertisers, such as major newspapers. Before digital times, marketers attempted to stretch the popularity of sources by giving a statistic based on 'impressions.' Impressions are highly speculative numbers. They are estimates. For instance, if a magazine subscription goes to a doctor's office, the magazine 'counts' more impressions, figuring a number of peoples' eyes will breach magazine pages, being at the office. Is it an exact science? No, it is not.
What's a bit troubling about the numbers coming out of the audit is the way digital subscribers are 'counted' by news sources. As the article reports:
[Under audit rules, newspapers can count paid digital subscribers more than once if they have daily access to digital content on multiple platforms like mobile apps or tablets as part of a bundled subscription package]
Remember a little time ago when Facebook had issues regarding counting? There was a disparity between what constituted a 'user.' Obviously, Facebook's definition will be more lax, making the count look higher than reality actually reflects. There's no doubt more people have picked up traditional news sources again due to digital subscriptions; yet, are traditional sources making a 'comeback' in the digital age? They certainly would want us to believe so.
"We're particularly gratified to note that newspapers' embrace of digital platforms, as well as smart and efficient circulation strategies for print products, are reflected in the numbers, which clearly demonstrate positive trends in total circulation growth for publishers," gleans Caroline Little, chief exec of the Newspaper Association of America.