Hearst, Bonnier Agree to MediaVest Demand for Tablet Data

In separate move, Condé Nast to release digital metrics

Today brought two steps forward for transparency when it comes to readership of tablet media.

With the tablet market still in its infancy, media buyers have been reluctant to put ad dollars toward an unproven platform that has produced scant consumer data.

One prominent buyer, MediaVest’s Robin Steinberg, two months ago put out a call to major publishers to provide readership detail about their tablet readers or risk forgoing advertising dollars on those devices. Now, two big ones—Hearst Magazines, publisher of titles like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, and Bonnier Corp., which puts out enthusiast magazines like Popular Science and Ski—agreed to supply MediaVest with data on audience, demographic, and engagement for their tablet editions. In exchange, MediaVest will recommend that its clients, which include such heavyweights as Kraft and Walmart, pay for ads delivered on those digital editions.

Separately, Condé Nast announced today that, come fall, it will release audience metrics of tablet magazine editions to clients that will indicate their single copy and subscription sales, number of readers that viewed the editions and their ads, and time spent with them, among other data.

“Frankly, without metrics, it’s been a barrier to grow,” Condé Nast CMO Lou Cona said. "It’s difficult to make this a meaningful medium without metrics.”

The company plans to share research showing that consumer behavior on tablets differs more than expected from behavior on the Web (where usage is fragmented and short-term) and is more similar to usage of print magazines.

Scott McDonald, Condé's senior vice president of market research, said he believes the data will actually make tablet media more attractive than print. That's because unlike traditional print media metrics, there will be more detail on how people use tablet media, and behavior will be measured rather than self-reported, he said. 

Along with this move, Condé Nast will be releasing data on digital subscriptions as part of its first-half 2011 circulation statements, covering the period when the company first started selling subscriptions to its tablet editions. Those statements will be released in August.

MediaVest also issued its original demand to Time Inc. and Meredith, but executives from these leading publishers haven't responded to requests for comment.

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