Declines were marginal

I read with interest the article, "Specialty mags on the rise" in your April 10 issue....

I read with interest the article, "Specialty mags on the rise" in your April 10 issue.

For the benefit of your readers, I should clarify that the writer of the article did not contact me for comment about PMB 2000 readership data.

Thus, the statement that "a slight rise in overall readership…has come almost exclusively in the area of specialty titles at the expense of some old stalwarts" is not attributable to me. The statement is also non-defendable from the data as they appear.

A syndicated readership study such as PMB may show increases and decreases in individual title readership from year to year – some may be statistically significant; others not so. Year-on-year changes also often fail to conform to any long-term pattern. Even more important, however, it is impossible in a study such as PMB to attribute a gain by any one publication to a loss by another publication or publications – and vice versa. Two individual readership measurements – even from the same study – cannot, and should not, be linked in this way.

I should also point out that some of the titles mentioned in the article as having sustained decreases did in fact experience only the most marginal of declines, and one actually saw a marginal rise in its readership (declines and increases which no trained researcher would treat as statistically significant). Other titles quoted as having seen decreases are undergoing substantial changes in a mix of distribution/circulation/content, which make analysis of their total, "global" readership somewhat superficial, at best. Finally, perhaps the most glaring error is that Profit magazine – cited as having lower readership in PMB 2000 – in fact saw a significant increase in its readership!

As well as the above sins of commission, the article also contains at least one sin of omission in that it disregards some significant PMB 2000 increases in French-language publications. I must confess I’m not sure what exactly constitutes a "specialty mag" (by one definition, all magazines might be considered "specialty"), but some of those French-language title increases may well not fall into such a category.

PMB would have been pleased to provide these, and other, insights for your readers if invited to do so.

Steve Ferley

President

PMB Print Measurement

Bureau

Toronto, Ont.

Ed: For the record, Strategy’s writer did, in fact, contact Steve Ferley for the above-noted article and was provided with comment and background PMB information by him. That said, however, the article did wrongly state that the overall readership of Profit and Flare magazines was down in PMB 2000 over the previous year, when in fact the opposite was true. For that, Strategy apologizes unreservedly.

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