People often ask about circulation and readership, and how at times it can seem like one is going up while the other is going down, The Newspaper Works research and insights manager Simon Baty says.
“It is a valid question, and in general you do expect them to move in the same direction,” Mr Baty said.
“However, there are various short term factors that can disguise the fact that they are trending in the same direction over the longer term.”
When referring to newspapers and other printed publications, circulation is the number of copies distributed on an average day, however readership is the number of people who read a newspaper or other publication each day.
“While you would expect the two would move together there is an obvious explanation as to why they don’t,” he said.
“One good example is the impact of promotions. If a publisher lowers the cover price, then some people who would previously have read someone else’s copy might start buying the publication. In this example, sales would be going up without a corresponding rise in readership.
“Nowadays, many publications are delivered not only in print, but also via websites, m.sites and apps, which complicates the relationship between print sales and readership.
“With several different ways to access similar content, you’d expect that pass-on readers might be more sensitive to the impact of promotional activity in any of those platforms, or changes in format and content in any of those platforms, which might prompt a switch partly or completely to a different platform.”
Another reason for the difference between the two is because the different sets of numbers are measured at different times.
“Audited circulation figures are an average across the most recent quarter. Readership on the other hand is an average over a 12 month period. You therefore tend to see changes coming through more quickly in circulation.” Mr Baty said.
If you would like to know more about the relationship between circulation and readership click here to view the comprehensive paper put together by Ipsos about the factors that influence both sets of numbers.