Readership and Total Audience

Advertisers are often interested in the number of people a publication reaches as a result of secondary, or pass-along, readership. Pass-along readership can occur when the primary subscriber or purchaser gives a magazine to another person or when the publication is read in doctors’ waiting rooms or beauty salons, on airplanes, and so forth. Advertisers generally attach greater value to the primary in-home reader than the pass-along reader or out-of-home reader, as the former generally spends more time with the publication, picks it up more often, and receives greater satisfaction from it. Thus, this reader is more likely to be attentive and responsive to ads. However, the value of pass-along readers should not be discounted. They can greatly expand a magazine’s readership. People magazine commissioned a media research study to determine that its out-of-home audience spends as much time reading the publication as do its primary in-home readers.

You can calculate the total audience, or readership, of a magazine by multiplying the readers per copy (the total number of primary and pass-along readers) by the circulation of an average issue. For example, a magazine that has a circulation of 1 million and 3.5 readers per copy has a total audience of 3.5 million. However, rate structures are generally based on the more verifiable primary circulation figures, and many media planners devalue pass-along readers by as much as 50 percent. Total readership estimates are reported by major syndicated magazine research services, but media buyers view these numbers with suspicion.

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