Society of Editors conference 2010: Notes from the What is the Audience sesision

What is our audience – Chaired by: Steve Hewlett, Presenter, The Media Show, BBC Radio 4
Jim Chisholm, Media consultant and analyst
Mike Ironside, Chief Executive, National Readership Survey
Stewart Purvis, Professor of Television Journalism, City University London

Jim Chisholm’s claims:
People spend 30 mins reading a paper and 3.8 minutes reading online news sites e every day; This is why Murdoch’s paywall will fail.
Sites that cater for female audiences perform better than those that do not.
Times lost six percent of circulation share when the Tories were in power. Guardian achieved gains under Thatcher
Understanding audience behaviour is key to success.
“The key lesson is loyalty and frequency our customers do not come to us often enough.
People are reading less and we are getting four pages per user per visit and that is not enough.
Are people who pay more valuable?
Regarding the Times pay wall he says it will fail –  “there are ten papers competing for an audience and people will get information free elsewhere.”
He stated there was no statistical evidence that the Internet has damaged circulation more than any other element although subsequent links tweeted contradicted this.
(But I would say it is accepted industry fact that things such as rain, holidays, bad sport results etc all get blame for loss of sales. Internet is just another factor.)
Ereader could have a big impact on readership. People read paper online five mins but on iPad twenty five minutes.
US paper (which he would not name) found if it sells subscription onto ereader conversion level and agreement levels are higher. People with ipads more likely to respond positively to a call from Circulation dept suggesting they try print subscription.
Mike Ironside
National readership survey is used mainly by commercial divisions, not by editorial. Paying for one off research is not the answer. Readership survey more useful he says.
“ABCs, 15-24 and young people are reading more, the quality sector take-up is good, but they are not regular readers – they buy print when they want. We know upmarket readership is more disloyal.
“Advertisers want to carry their craft skill into internet but that is not available right now. Most of Internet income is search. That needs to improve.
“Why do newspapers have racing pages – four pages no one read?”. (He should have answered the calls when the Liverpool Echo dropped it’s print racing card – lots of upset punters).
Re. Female readership online- Readership profiles have equal split – Daily Mail has female bias but one element is not the solution.
iPad subscription/app take-up: “These people are early adopters justifying the cost of their iPad purchase. Now is easy – it will get harder as products become more widely used.”
“People consume media in generalities – they don’t know what channel they are watching, or what site they are on; it’s just tv and the web.”
Stewart Purvis
“Of 16 hours a day we are awake, seven hours are spent digitally but they are also media multitasking.
“YouView is an example of media stacking – most converged content yet available. Non traditional channels will be accessed – search, apps, tv, iptv etc. Local tv debate… People want to make it but without the regulatory aspects of normal tv – YouView will allow that to happen.”
Bundling – half of people now bundle, compared to quarter five years ago. Content v convenience – if you don’t have premiership football you are stating from behind. Is the choice between having your local paper or not? That would be a buyer decision.
He cited an (unnamed) Long Island media company offering cable and paper but said it did not seem to have worked.
Local media ownership rules – “never met a local paper owner who want a radio station and Vice versa. No harm in relaxing rules was the general feeling. People have not sought to be cross media locally.”
Sent from my iPad

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