EMMA’s readership survey is more than ‘good news and stability’

In this guest post, EMMA boss Brian Hogan responds to Mumbrella's article on the looming end of magazine audits in Australia.

Your opinion piece on the announcement that Bauer and News Life Media would cease supporting the publication of circulation data raised some valid questions about the EMMA (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) survey and audience surveys, more broadly. I would like to help inform the debate by responding.


If, I understand it correctly, the heart of your narrative appears to be a concern about the lack of clarity on how readership data is defined and sourced and that it does not represent a “true reader” of a magazine. A further concern is that the methodology inevitably delivers stability and “good news” to publishers.

Let me share with you the survey participation process and the question put to participants in the EMMA survey.

EMMA respondents are selected by random phone number dialling on mobile and land line and are not members of an existing survey panel.  This process ensures we have a representative and unbiased respondent base.

“The sample is accurately weighted to match the demographic make-up of Australia. In addition we apply a process known as “propensity weighting” whereby we apply a discount to the total estimated audience based on the greater likelihood of people to participate in a readership survey who read newspapers and magazines.

“This is measured during the recruitment process and subsequently factored into the readership estimate.

The total EMMA respondent sample during the past year is over 50,000. This is by far the largest sample of any media survey in Australia – and deliberately so, to enable accurate readership estimates on regional and special interest publications.

“There is no question that a sample of this scale, recruited using the methods outlined will deliver very robust and accurate data.

Magazine readership is based on a two stage question. First we ask: “For each of the following magazines have you, yourself, looked at or read a printed copy in the last 12 months for at least two minutes?”  The respondent is shown mastheads and typed name of all national and location relevant magazines.

Individuals who say they have read a particular masthead are then asked about specific issue readership of that title and other titles within the genre.

The readership estimate is based on the response to the following question asked in respect of the covers of each of the past three published issues: “For each of the following issues have you, yourself, looked at or read a printed copy for at least two minutes?”

There are three possible responses given for each cover: Yes; No; Not sure.  We count Not Sure as a No. This is the response we use to calculate average issue readership. The EMMA survey is completed online (mobile, PC, tablet) so we can constantly update to show accurately the last three covers at any given time.  This is a unique feature of EMMA in the Australian market and also aids accurate recall.

You may quibble about the definition of time spent reading – but it is the internationally accepted standard for readership surveys including the NRS (National Readership Survey)  in the UK.  The response to the above question will deliver a very accurate estimate of readership of each and every magazine surveyed.

“Ipsos is an independent market research business, with operations in over 80 countries around the world and we carrying out media audience surveys in more than half of that number. As you would expect, we value our independence and integrity above anything as our success relies upon our reputation.

“Since Ipsos won the tender to provide print readership audience data and the launch of EMMA in 2013 we have been open and transparent with media buyers, advertisers and the trade press about our methodology.

The other suggestion you make about readership surveys delivering “good news” is also very misleading and plainly wrong.

“EMMA data over the past three-and-a-half years has tracked the decline in print readership of newspapers and magazines.

“EMMA also fuses the digital audience of the major mastheads using Nielsen/IAB audience estimates and is the only survey to do so, delivering a holistic view of audience. In this respect it has shown the relative performance of mastheads in gaining new digital audiences.

“EMMA readership data for 12 months to September 2016 just published (see below) shows many titles declining, some titles stable and others growing.  A mixed performance based on many factors, no doubt including demographics, content and geography. But certainly not “good news and stability”.

Magazines are read by just over two thirds (67%) of Australians aged 14+ whose average time spent per day reading a mag is eight minutes.

“It is true that younger people are less likely to read magazines, with 52% of people 20-25 saying they have read any magazine during the past year.


Spurce: EMMA/ Ipsos

Magazine readership September 2016. Source: EMMA/ Ipsos


Source: EMMA/ Ipsos

Newspaper readership September 2016. Source: EMMA/ Ipsos

  • Brian Hogan is Ipsos’s executive director of EMMA

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