Regionals follow national lead with survey for supplements

Following the NRS’s recent agreement to include national newspaper sections research in its survey, the Newspaper Society has announced a similar initiative for the regional press.

Following the NRS’s recent agreement to include national newspaper

sections research in its survey, the Newspaper Society has announced a

similar initiative for the regional press.



The first stage in the initiative is Sections, a new report that reveals

the extent of the burgeoning sections market in regionals and their

effect on copy sales. Produced by independent consultants Jennie Beck

and Alan Renwick, the data will initially enable the Newspaper Society

to inform advertising agencies which sections are published by the 1,300

regional newspapers on its database.



The report was prepared from an industry audit involving face-to-face

research among readers, editors and commercial directors.



The first stage will demonstrate whether sections have any value. Philip

Preston, Eastern Counties Newspapers director of market planning,

commented: ’Sections are a vital part of our brand, have a significant

impact on daily sales and can open up new sources of ad revenue.’



The next stage would be to commission full readership research of

sections.



’We will look at more sophisticated research including section

readership,’ said the Newspaper Society’s research manager Mike

Jeanes.



The report recommends that sections should exploit local advantage and

not just copy national lifestyle sections. They can also encourage

casual buyers to read across the week with targeted sections for each

day.



’Some sections have been focused on the short-term advertising market,’

said Beck. ’Our report shows that the long-term benefit is to be had by

adding reader value.’



Around a dozen of the larger regionals, including the London Evening

Standard, Liverpool Echo, Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman, are members

of the NRS, but it has not yet been decided whether their sections will

be included in the new NRS survey.



The debate over the inclusion of national newspaper sections in the NRS

(Media Business, 1 November) almost split the research organisation in

two.



The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Periodical

Publishers Association insisted that sections accounted for 20 per cent

of national newspaper revenue and had to be measured, but the Newspaper

Publishers Association was worried readers could not remember what

sections they have read and might effectively invalidate the survey.



The NPA was worried that the length of the survey was causing respondent

boredom, and that adding more names would worsen the situation. Both

sides agreed to a new format for the survey, which would see the

supplements positioned alongside their parent titles, to improve

respondent recognition.



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