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
’We will look at more sophisticated research including section
readership,’ said the Newspaper Society’s research manager Mike
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
’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
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