I had an amazing response to my previous post, ‘Why it’s dangerous to compare print figures to website stats‘, including a good follow up post by Martin Belam, the invitation to repost and start contributing to the Online Journalism Blog, great comments from Dave, Neil and Andrew, and most impressively, Martin Lengeveld updated his original post with a link and details of my post.
Inspired by all of this, I’ve decided to take the undoubtedly risky approach of not only poking holes in the arguments of others, but to try and maybe answer some of them – but that proved more difficult than expected, (partly due to the epic victory of Chelsea in the Champions League game vs Liverpool last night)
Initially I started brainstorming measures that could be broadly equivalent with some work – could the effort of walking to a shop and paying for a print copy be judged equivalent to reading a website? Commenting? Subscribing via RSS?
But then I got hit by a far more fundamental question.
Why are we trying to compare print readers and online readers in the first place?
And it’s a serious question.
Because if you run a publishing business, you’re going to make judgements about print and online on revenue. And scale in both mediums is a byproduct of an advertising model based on number of eyeballs, usually within a target location/demographic, or from being able to attract flat rate advertisers by being able to claim the largest readership.
The actual scale itself doesn’t matter once we’re in the same ballpark and seeing trends in readership over a reasonable period?
Or am I missing something?
Or are we trying to find figures to justify editorial or marketing resource? Or refocus online media commentary?
Only when the reason for the measurement is clear is it going to be possible to try and devise a method for comparing ‘domestic print apples and global multimedia organges’ (quoting Mr Belam).
I’m actually heading off to a Twitter-based event called Aperitweat tonight, organised by good friend @tojulius, so I’m hoping great food and conversation will fuel something closer to a conclusion rather than more questions! (Apparently you can watch the event live on Ustream- I’ll be the scruffy one…)
And I’m also hoping to keep the brilliant contributions coming from Dave, Neil, Andrew, Paul Bradshaw and maybe Martin himself to produce something from my hopefully constructive criticism – and if not, perhaps just an agreement to never compare print and online audiences directly again?