Wednesday, December 5, 2007

MRI Uses RFID Chips for Mag Measurement

MRI Uses RFID Chips for Mag Measurement
by Erik Sass

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING--WELL, JUST Mediamark Research and Intelligence, actually. The magazine audience measurement firm is partnering with DJG Marketing's Waiting Room Subscription Services to put radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in magazines in waiting rooms to determine just how many customers actually read them.

MRI has been testing RFID technology in-house for over a year, but the DJG-WRSS partnership marks the first external study using MRI's Passive Print Monitoring System. RFID microchips are small, passive transponders remotely powered by radio frequencies, allowing detection and measurement of movement.

The study seeks to determine whether RFID tech can accurately measure time spent with a specific magazine issue and the number of individual readings. It may even allow MRI to measure exposure to a specific ad page in the magazine. DJG wants to recruit publisher support for the test.

The new measurement initiative may help resolve a controversial issue in magazine ad sales: Should free or discounted copies distributed in public places count as quality circulation? Often dismissed as "junk circ" used to inflate publishers' figures, proponents argue that these magazines have value that can be measured in terms of reach and frequency, akin to booming place-based video media.

In this vein, Marc Passarelli, president of WRSS and chief operating officer of DJG Marketing, remarked: "Public place distribution is an important source of targeted readership generation for magazines and provides a defined competitive environment for sampling multiple titles."

In August 2006, Time Inc. and Mediaedge:cia released a study which found that over 80% of waiting-room readers act on ad or editorial content they see in magazines there. The Internet study tracked readership of six different magazines in a sample population of about 5,000 people, focusing on Entertainment Weekly, In Style, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Parenting and People. The study also found 85% said they "didn't mind waiting if magazines were available," while 97% thought "waiting rooms should provide things to read while you wait."

Other big players have also experimented with new electronic measurement techniques for magazine readership. In June 2006, Time Inc. Jane Bailey, vice president of corporate marketing information for Time, Inc., and Roberta McConochie, director of PPM client relations for Arbitron, reported the results of a joint study using PPM technology to measure magazine readership. Based on the physical dynamics of magazine reading, the studies revealed large increases in both the number of interactions and overall time spent reading magazines, compared to self-recorded diaries.

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