MRI Expands Survey for Digital Mags

Magazines may be getting some help boosting their official audience numbers.

In April, the same month that Apple is expected to ship its much-anticipated iPad tablet, MRI plans to take steps towards including digital readership in its consumer magazine audience ratings.

MRI–Mediamark Research & Intelligence—plans to conduct 1,000 in-home interviews to figure out how to measure a magazine’s total audience now that magazines are read across a growing number of platforms, including their Web sites, digital editions, mobile phones, e-readers and presumably soon, tablets.

It’ll be a while before the official numbers reflect the change, though. MRI said that late 2011 is the earliest that its learnings from the interviews could be incorporated into its twice-yearly Survey of the American Consumer—a key metric on which advertisers base ad-buying decisions.

The results will help indicate to what extent digital reading is additive or cannibalizing print. MRI also will be able to profile readers by the way they read magazines.

MRI is the latest to respond to the growing adoption of digital reading devices. Recently, the Audit Bureau of Circulations widened its definition of a digital magazine, which should help magazines get credit for the electronic versions of print editions that they’re creating for forthcoming tablets and other digital reading devices.

Under the new ABC guidelines, digital editions need not be exact replicas of the print edition. The change recognizes that tablet versions of magazines are expected to contain enhancements and other features not allowable in print.