Deeper Insights On Media Metrics From Leo Kivijarv, PhD

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Leo-Kivijarv1Leo Kivijarv, PhD, vice president/research at PQ Media, a leading provider of global media econometrics and pioneer of 21st century alternative media research, shares additional commentary and analysis on media sales as a follow-up to the magazine’s annual ranking of advertising sales in the August 2015 issue. For additional information, contact Dr. Kivijarv at lkivijarv@pqmedia.com or 203-921-0368.

“Since the recession, PQ Media has seen a major shift in how the media industry metrics are being reported due to a myriad of factors that simultaneously put the media industry into the “perfect storm,” says Kivijarv. He gives a few reasons for this shift:

● Wall Street analysts who needed third-party media metrics or developed their own metrics for their reports, either left the business entirely, such as Lee Westerfield at USB who is now a CFO at a mobile company, or the Wall Street firms no longer cover many public traditional media companies, particularly print, such as Merrill Lynch.

● Numerous magazines that reported metrics went out of business, such as Tradeshow Week, or stopped producing articles on growth patterns, such as Promo, and for a period Editor & Publisher.

● Third-party research providers specializing in certain media platforms also cut back coverage of declining media, such as Simba Information on Yellow Pages and SNL Kagan on print platforms.

● Turnover in the research departments at leading trade associations, such as the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) and Media Networks Inc. (MNI), led the organizations to rethink their strategies on how to report the data.

● Some of the metric changes were prompted by financial considerations, as association members balked at the high costs to collect the detailed data on a quarterly basis, preferring to shift research budgets to other studies that were case-study related and showed high target audience engagement. The problem with this new approach is that all the associations tout high engagement, which makes it difficult for agencies to differentiate between the various media platforms with these type of studies.

● The changing media landscape, where silo analysis was becoming obsolete and the lines between media platforms have been blurring over the past decade, led a number of organizations to rebrand, including Magazine Publishers Association to Magazine Media Association, Yellow Pages Association to Local Search Association, and Custom Publishing Council to the Custom Content Council to the Content Council; the latter did so to become relevant for the growing content marketing platform.

● In rebranding, many of these trade associations have begun to merge the traditional and digital components of their industry, particularly relating to audience size. Even before the recession, executive directors were asking that all media consumption data include the digital audiences, some of which was prompted by the pure-play internet companies arguing that their monthly traffic was higher than a single issue or on-air program.

● By necessity, traditional and digital revenue data has begun to be combined due in large part to the bundled packages of traditional and digital editions now offered by media companies. This transition is an attempt to erect pay walls on content that audiences have been reading free of charge on their computers and digital devices.

● Meanwhile, some trade associations are attempting to better serve their member companies by identifying new revenue streams not previously covered in their metrics, such as the Radio Advertising Bureau putting more emphasis on its “other” category that includes consumer events, while the American Business Media merged with the Software & Information Industry Association and has been seeking more information on its members’ information products, such as databases and content marketing.

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