Using reader panels in the daily editorial decisions
Kjersti Løken Stavrum, Chief Editor Feature, from Aftenposten, Norway gave a presentation about how RAM/studies of readership made a magazine success; empowering the reporters, convincing the sales persons and securing the editor. She spoke about it during the Media Research Seminar of INMA European Conference 2012.
Kjersti spoke about a story behind a magazine success. Aftenposten is Norway’s biggest newspaper and a leading quality newspaper, being sold 7 times a week. It has feature sections on Saturdays and feature pages on Sunday.
The last readership figures are impressive: 706.000 readers – new record. The question is: would the readership be higher or lower if not listening to the advertising department.
50 percent of their readers say that the front page is most important to make the decision about even opening the magazine.
Main conlusion: brands are important, but content is more important. Out of 4 first pages the mostly read was one with not necessarily nicely designed first page, but the content of the first page is what drove the highest interest.
Advertisers are the first ones who put the pressure on changing the magazine. Their argument is that the magazine is losing its sales or readers. That’s why the research surveys are so important for publishers. In that case, Aftenposten uses the RAM base to see why was something read, why readers did not pay enough attention. They don’t syrvey the people with every front page, but they do it quite often.
Doing redesigns helps but it takes too much energy.
Kjersti underlined at the end, that analysing daily panels is very important for the later decisions. She shared a story when Aftenposten wrote about people from Norway who happen to find some Viking treasures, often very valuable. They hide it from museums or government, because otherwise the archeologists would come and dig in the entire garden. This story had the ugliest front pages (according to the speaker) but was one of the best read magazines of Aftenposten ever.
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