Doing Research? Aim for 60% Response; New ARF Guidelines Urge Business Publishers to Shoot for Higher Response Rates in Audience Surveys

By Garry, Michael | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, November 1988 | Go to article overview

Doing Research? Aim for 60% Response; New ARF Guidelines Urge Business Publishers to Shoot for Higher Response Rates in Audience Surveys


Garry, Michael, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


Doing research? Aim for 60% response

New York City--Concerned that the response rate to business magazine surveys is often too low to be accurate, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) has established 60 percent as a minimum credible response level.

This ruling is one of a compendium of audience research guidelines recently issued by ARF's Business Advertising Research Council (BARC). Although they apply mainly to advertising research, the guidelines can be used in editorial surveys as well.

"In many surveys, the response rate has been so low that it's not representative of the sample or universe," notes David Forsyth, a McGraw-Hill research executive who chairs BARC. "But if you send out 1,000 mailings and you get 600 back, the chances are that the other 400 are not that different."

The 60 percent guideline is "reasonable" says Stephen Douglas, president of The Douglas Group, an audience research firm. "A lot of times people ignore the group that doesn't respond to a survey," he says. "That's very dangerous."

Forsyth hopes that the weight of ARF behind this recommendation will encourage publishers to "try harder." Moreover, the 60 percent guideline can apply equally well to consumer magazine research, he notes. Simmons Market Research Bureau, which conducts research for consumer titles, uses 60 percent as a minimum standard, as well, he adds. …

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