Newspaper keeps watch on its readers

26th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

1 December 2004 , WUERZBURG - A German provincial newspaper has been compiling revolutionary daily ratings of its most successful articles, thanks to hand-held scanners wielded by volunteer testers. The Swiss-invented idea has adapted the idea of television viewer surveys to the print world and has already prompted editorial changes at the Main-Post, a daily published in Wuerzburg, Bavaria that says it is the first newspaper in Germany to try the technology. Inventor Carlo Imboden reportedly says the "Read

1 December 2004

WUERZBURG - A German provincial newspaper has been compiling revolutionary daily ratings of its most successful articles, thanks to hand-held scanners wielded by volunteer testers.

The Swiss-invented idea has adapted the idea of television viewer surveys to the print world and has already prompted editorial changes at the Main-Post, a daily published in Wuerzburg, Bavaria that says it is the first newspaper in Germany to try the technology.

Inventor Carlo Imboden reportedly says the "Readerscan" system, which monitors exactly how much of each item gets read, will be offered in Italy and Britain and ultimately in the United States.

"The method will bring about a revolution in newspaper publishing," said Main Post editor Michael Reinhard. "I predict that in a few years, none of the bigger newspapers will be able to do without it." 

Imboden's technology works like this: the newspaper requests a group of its regular readers to mark with a pen the places where they start and stop reading each article. The testers are selected to match the paper's target market: younger adults in Main-Post's case.

The pen is about the size of a highlighter pen, but has no ink: it is a tiny optical scanner. Afterwards the scanner is docked with a device that transmits the results to a computer which matches the scan data to the actual newspaper.

After number crunching, the impact report is completed the same day as the newspaper is published.

"It's a no-nonsense method that tells you what the reader really does," said Reinhard, comparing it to laborious questionnaires and surveys in which readers are not always truthful or complete.

Since April, the Main-Post has scrutinised its readership twice for four weeks at a time.

"The most remarkable finding was how low the ratings were for local sport," said Reinhard. Overall, readers also paid less attention to local news sections than to the Main Post's national news section which includes many provincial stories too.

The survey also found that intellectual articles about culture were rarely read, whereas readers made a beeline towards stories about topics that had been in the previous evening's television news.

"What's news on TV also tops the ratings in the newspaper," said Reinhard. "We've realized we should not be shy about picking up a story just because other media have covered it thoroughly."

It found that celebrity and bright stories were the most read part of the paper.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

0 Comments To This Article