Rethinking The Combination Of Online And Offline Subscribers

from the tougher-to-count-than-you-might-think dept

Last week the Wall Street Journal announced that they were going to combine their online and paper subscription numbers to come up with a number they felt was much more accurate in describing who was reading their news. Not everyone agreed that this was the most accurate method of counting circulation, and now Mark Glaser is taking a deeper look at the controversy (though, he doesn’t give much space to those who disagree with the idea). My first reaction, of course, is who really cares? The circulation number is mostly important for advertisers. The reason they want that number is to tell advertisers how far their ads might go (combined with demographic information about subscribers). In that case, combining the numbers doesn’t make sense – because you are definitely supplying a different type of advertising to each medium. Yes, you can buy cross-medium advertising packages (which is exactly what the WSJ is pitching), but it still involves very different advertisements with very different metrics. So, really, I don’t see the point of combining the numbers, other than for bragging purposes. If I were interested in advertising with the WSJ, I certainly wouldn’t care what the combined number was – I’d want to see the split to better understand what sort of advertising I’d want to buy.

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