on media Raymond Snoddy finds some figures to make journalism pay

Fight Facebook with real reader numbers


he occasional elderly US senator may not know how Facebook makes its money. But there can hardly be a

journalist anywhere who doesn’t know how the social media giant hoovers up advertising and, in the process, blows out jobs in the traditional media. Rather like the reputation of President

Trump among his followers, nothing that Facebook does or says, however scandalous, seems to dent its advance. Fake news, invasion of privacy,

interference in election campaigns by proxy, ads placed next to jihadi violence or viewed for two seconds (if they are seen by humans at all rather than robots) and still nothing happens. To be more precise, something does

happen – money continues to flow from the established media into the coffers of Mark Zuckerberg. Despite Cambridge Analytica, despite

everything, Facebook’s revenues rose by 49 per cent in the first quarter to a record $11.97 billion. Can anything stop the march of the social media giants other than waving garlic at them? In the UK publishers now at least

have PAMCo. Pardon? A prize to any journalist who has

heard of it, and kudos to those who have not only noticed the launch but also pondered its implications – which could be considerable. Most journalists, unless they have to

write about circulation figures, tend to avert their gaze from the gloomy regularity of print decline in the ABCs. Now we have Audience Measurement for Publishers from PAMCo. This is a £35 million initiative which has been three years in the

making and has replaced an outdated national readership survey system. So far so boring – something for

statistic nerds to discuss, rather than journalists trying to work out how long Theresa May can survive as prime minister. The work of PAMCo is far from

boring and could affect – positively – the extent to which journalists get to keep their jobs in future. It should have been done years ago

but let’s not carp. PAMCo uses 35,000 face-to-face-

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These are the numbers that media agencies and advertisers have been seeking for years. The biggest question is what will they do with them

interviews, backed up by a revolving 5,000-strong panel who monitor reading on all digital devices. The result is reliable numbers for ‘newsbrand’ readers across print, desktop, tablets and phones, with duplication removed. The information generated, never assembled in such a comprehensive way before, is good news for newspaper and magazine publishers. No fewer than 24.6 million

people in the UK read newsbrands every day and 41 million each week. It looks like a regular habit because the monthly figure is only a little higher at 45.4 million. Each month, publishers are reaching 91 per cent of all adults, with reach rising to 93 per cent for 15-34 year-olds. For all adults, print is the biggest single component while, for younger age groups, it is mobile.

These are the numbers that media agencies and advertisers have been seeking for years. The

biggest question is what they will do with them. In a rational world, media planners will be able to do some more planning and integrate the trusted offerings of newsbrands more fully into campaigns. In such a rational world, the leakage

of advertising revenue to social media should at least slow and possibly even be modestly reversed. The danger is that the young digerati in agencies will continue to push the digital default button, acting against the long-term, brand-building interests of those they represent. The difference now is that, thanks to

PAMCo, if they continue making Zuckerberg and friends richer and

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