Mag Researcher To Gauge Reader Involvement, Ad Effectiveness

Media research firm Affinity LLC--which made noise recently with its claims to advertisers about a means to test print copy in a more efficient manner--announced the launch of Vista, a new syndicated research product that promises to address two major needs of advertisers, by measuring reader involvement and advertising effectiveness for magazines.

Vista will initially measure the top 50 consumer magazines, which it says account for 65 percent of all print ad dollars. Over the next year and a half, Affinity will field over 350 issue-specific studies covering over 20,000 magazine ads. Over time, Affinity will also monitor reader involvement, and even editorial readership for specific titles.

Affinity Managing Director Tom Robinson believes that Vista will satisfy a growing need among media planners for data that proves accountability.

"There is a lack of performance-based data," says Robinson, a former head of research at the Magazine Publishers of America. "We have a lot of great metrics, but they are basically audience numbers."

Theoretically, Vista will be able to help planners look much deeper into magazines' strengths--for example, determining the effectiveness of particular placements such as cover positions or editorial adjacencies, and how they perform for specific titles.

Robinson says that Vista was created in conjunction with the media planning community.

"We spent a lot of time with buyers," he says. "We really molded it to what was appropriate to the needs of advertising agencies."

Vista's launch comes during a period when several initiatives have been organized to gauge "wantedness"--or the relationship of readers toward individual magazines.

Monroe Mendelsohn has been signing up major advertisers for its PReSS product, which is said to provide deeper insights into consumers' attitudes toward magazines. In the last several years, Reader's Digest and other titles have formed the Magazine Involvement Alliance, which has been promoting the use of an 'involvement index' via MRI data.

"Any initiative that helps to prove magazine's effectiveness is a good thing," Robinson says. Vista will have some crossover with MRI and these other services, as it will measure data such as average time spent reading and issue frequency. But Vista offers more actionable data, says Robinson.

"We are really different because of our other offerings," he says. "The initial drive for our service is the advertising-related data."

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