Magazine article Editor & Publisher

New FAS-FAX Takes Online Temperature

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

New FAS-FAX Takes Online Temperature

Article excerpt

This month, when the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases the FAS-FAX for the latest six-month period, it will look a little different. This go-around, and in the future, the organization is including online readership, total unique users, and combined print/ online reach (or "total audience" data).

At first glance, the change might seem negligible; the data takes over the columns where old readership stats were found. But to the industry, it's a long-overdue alteration, one that could move the public's -- and market's -- perception that newspapers are lame relics of the past and are instead growing, important news outlets for readers and advertisers.

As E&P went to press, ABC was nearing its early-November release of the latest FAS-FAX. The organization anticipates that about 200 daily papers out of 820 are supplying total-audience data, since it's a voluntary move. But ABC is pleased with the amount of papers planning to submit audience numbers. "Frankly, some people thought it would be lower than this," says ABC spokesman Neal Lulofs.

Most of the top 100 papers planned to submit audience numbers, though some larger ones opted out. Lulofs would not say which.

About one-third of the papers in the top 100 that are reporting online numbers are using Nielsen Online or comScore. ABC's preferred measurement service for the unique user data is Nielsen Online (which is owned by E&P's parent company). The organization plans to accept and audit internal logs too since Nielsen and comScore, both panel-based measurement services, don't cover a vast majority of newspaper markets.

The usual comparability issues will come into play, since there are wild swings between panel-based and internal online measurements -- with pluses and minus for each method. ABC believes Nielsen and comScore may undercount Web usage at work, a place where many people access newspaper Web sites. …

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