Barry McIlheney, CEO, PPA
Barry McIlheney, CEO, PPA
A view from Barry McIlheney

Think BR: NRS PADD an important marker in magazine media evolution

The release of NRS PADD data showing online and print reach is a critical milestone for the magazine industry, writes Barry McIlheney, chief executive officer, PPA.

I have been following the coverage that NRS PADD (Print and Digital Data) has received since its launch with great interest.

As a major stakeholder, the PPA has been working very closely with our members and the NRS for more than two years now on creating a modern and relevant multimedia planning tool, and it is both a relief and a source of some pride to see the data finally released to such a fanfare. 

You will no doubt at least have glanced by now at some of the more dramatic headlines around the data release: perhaps the fact that the good old NME enjoys a massive 1.4m unduplicated readers across both print and online, or that the soaraway Sun apparently still has a greater combined readership than the Daily Mail.

These sort of headlines are a great example of exactly what PADD was designed to do, namely to allow media brands to show their combined reach across both web and print and in doing so dispel the myth that these brands are steadily losing readers.

Rather, these headlines are proof at last that media brands are reaching the same number, if not even more, but simply on more platforms than ever before. 

Measurement of web audiences is of course nothing new, but up until now media owners had a figure for print, a separate figure for web audiences, but no way to calculate their total unduplicated reach across both platforms.

This is what makes the launch of NRS PADD such a significant moment in media history. 

And this is the exact area in which the true value of NRS PADD will come to the fore by providing a single base print readership data, website audience data, and all the NRS demographic and classification data. 

It will allow users to, among other things, see the unduplicated reach of print publications and websites, the incremental reach provided by websites, the websites that readers of print titles visit and vice versa, and the comparative audience profile for print titles and websites.

The release of NRS PADD is also a critical milestone in our industry's journey from being magazine publishers to becoming media brand owners.

The distinction here being that we are now no longer defined purely by the delivery channels we use, but by our approach to content and our consumers’ eagerness to engage with that content on the platform(s) of their choice.

NRS PADD is one of the first and most important markers in this evolutionary process. If we compare the position of magazine media today to where magazine publishers were a decade ago, it provides proof positive that magazine media is a growing in size and popularity. 

In 2002 the average issue total reach for all magazines was 37.7m readers. Today the monthly total reach of magazine media across above both print and online is 38.7m.

Although my head of research has painstakingly pointed out to me that these two figures are not directly comparable, this can still only be a good news story.

It is now up to all magazine publishers to come together and start to spread the word. 

Barry McIlheney, CEO, PPA