E-readers spur new audience measurement challenges
E-readers, like smart phones, represent yet another channel through which publishers can interact with their readers and grow their audiences. The challenge for media companies is tracking the audience as they consume content across these various devices. The behavioral characteristics of e-reader and smartphone users, including their location, will affect both the content and the advertising that is served to them.
E-readers present a couple of unique opportunities for publishers. First, the larger screens may give new life to display advertising, particularly rich media or interactive ads. Second, the subscription-based content models that are emerging for the iPad, Kindle and other e-readers will give publishers access to a richer trove of audience data from which they can better target content and advertising.
But the ability to measure mobile audiences is still coming into focus. "The data infrastructure for mobile is much more nascent," says Max Mead, vice president of business development for PointRoll, a provider of advertising technology and services. "There's less visibility on audience. We’re starting to get some questions in this area from clients -- a lot of the focus is around how you optimize [media buying] between all these different platforms."
Skiff, the Hearst-backed venture that is developing a new e-reading platform and e-reader hardware, is hoping to make headway in this space by working with Nielsen and comScore on new metrics to deliver quantitative measures of subscribers’ behavior with publications that are offered through Skiff.
“Since we know who the subscriber is to the Skiff service, we know a lot more about the consumer than many publishers might know about someone who buys at a newsstand,” says Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, Skiff’s chief marketing officer. “We can get fairly disciplined and quantitative in terms of the behavior that’s going on with the reading material, including the ads.”
Engagement metrics could be a key element of publishers’ bid to bring advertisers into their smart phone and e-reader editions. Texterity, a developer of digital publications, claims that initial testing shows readers are far more engaged with digital magazine content on the iPhone than they are on the Web.
The iPhone app Texterity developed for Premier Guitar magazine, for example, shows high levels of engagement: an average of five sessions (repeat visits) with each digital edition on the iPhone, compared with 1.2 sessions for a typical B2B digital edition accessed through the Web; and an average session length of 21 minutes, vs. six minutes for a B2B Web edition. Texterity President Martin Hensel says he expects these engagement metrics to be even better on the iPad because of the tablet's enhanced ergonomics.
Audit bureaus are finally getting into the mobile/e-reader act as well. The Audit Bureau of Circulations announced this week that its interactive unit is partnering with Verve Wireless to audit mobile audiences accessing newspaper content through mobile browsers and apps using smartphones and e-readers.
paidContent notes that the potential audience is significant:
Verve said more than nine million readers accessed news from mobile devices using its publishing platform in March, jumping 243 percent compared to the prior year. In 2010, it expects to serve more than 2.2 billion mobile news pages. Separately, ABC said it found in a survey of member publications, that more than 80 percent said consumers would rely more heavily on mobile devices as a primary information source over the next three years.
The ABC has also been working with the Newspaper Association of America on auditing options that address the growing cross-platform reach of newspapers. Under its new guidelines, beginning in October newspapers will be able to report e-reader distribution averages and mobile app purchases in their publisher statements.