PAMCo is now using a new methodology known as ‘online first’. Plans to test this method were accelerated when Covid struck in March 2020, as it was no longer possible to continue conducting face-to-face in-home interviews.
‘Online first’ is a two-phase method:
- It starts with a postal phase – sampled addresses are mailed and up to two household members are invited to complete an online (or paper) self-completion questionnaire
- This is followed by a field stage when non-responsive households are visited in-person by Ipsos ‘facilitators’ to encourage completion online or by paper. Participants can also be offered a tablet to complete the interview on or a video interview. From October 2021 the option of an in-home interview was offered again, though this is currently a minority of interviews
Around three-quarters of the self-completion questionnaires are completed online. A paper self-completion questionnaire is available for those unable/unwilling to complete online. While most of the questionnaires are completed online, the sample is recruited offline to maximise quality, and this is not an online panel sample. The survey data is then fused with digital estimates supplied by Ipsos Iris. In essence, the fusion finds the best possible matches between participants in the two datasets in respect of their demographics and behaviour.
The first PAMCo data release to include data from the new method was in October 2021. This included print data collected from July 2019 to June 2021 and a data fusion to the July 2021 Ipsos iris digital numbers. As such the print readership data was based on samples from both the pre-Covid face-to-face method (July 2019 to March 2020) and the new method (September 2020 to June 2021). Combining the samples is necessary to have a large enough overall sample to publish estimates for all titles. The ‘new’ post Covid sample is cloned to provide more emphasis on the most recent data.
Up to and including the PAMCo 1 2022 release in March 2022, the data will combine pre-Covid and the new post-covid method sample, with the latter gradually replacing the former. The latest release, PAMCo Bridge 1 2022 features just 17% of data from pre-covid. To mark the transitional nature and to signify the mix of pre-covid and new method sample these will be labelled as ‘PAMCo Bridge’.
Yes, there have also been major changes to the digital audience estimates. PAMCo integrates digital estimates from the UKOM approved supplier which changed from Comscore to Ipsos iris in January 2021.
The significant changes in method and sample relative to the pre-Covid method have inevitably changed the estimates obtained, for both print and digital readership numbers. Given the level of change, it is not possible to make direct comparisons with pre-Covid PAMCo estimates. Nor will it be possible to compare Bridge releases with any of the data released post-bridge.
Changes to the data, as a result of the new method, will become more apparent with each successive PAMCo Bridge release, as an increasing proportion of the sample is based on the new method.
The first release based entirely on new method data will be in June 2022, based on the period September 2020 to March 2022. From this point trending can begin.
At Newsworks when we refer to the total brand reach of national papers news brands, we are referring to the daily, weekly and monthly reach of (unless otherwise stated) Newsworks’ stakeholders across all platforms (print and digital).
Whilst there are some regional news brands measured by PAMCo, most local and regional readership is measured by JICREG, and we work closely with them to promote the wider news brand industry.