In-House vs. Outside Research Firm
Some publishers do their research in-house because they believe it will save on the cost. More and more publishers, however, are turning to professional research firms because they are finding that the price is comparable to conducting the research in-house and the increased effectiveness of professional research more than makes up for any additional cost.
Some of the reasons for the greater effectiveness are these:
Advertisers and ad agencies will more readily believe surveys conducted by a recognized third party source. Professional researchers know how to ask questions that will most effectively bring out the strengths of your publication. Research conducted by a professional is more likely to meet the criteria many advertisers and agencies have for acceptance, such as a high response rate for mail surveys. Research firms will normally complete a survey faster. In-house surveys frequently take longer to complete because the people working on them often have other duties. It is often more cost-effective to use a research firm than hiring additional staff or pulling existing staff from other work.
Where to Find Good Research
If you sell advertising nationally, it is best to deal with a nationally recognized research firm because you need to have acceptance of your survey in all parts of the country. Firms that specialize in publication research can usually do a better job because they have the experience necessary for asking the types of questions that can help sell advertising. Also, they know how to ask questions in ways that are most acceptable to the advertisers and ad agencies. It is best to talk to two or three research firms that have been recommended to you and discuss how they would handle your study and what they will charge.
Types of Surveys
There are many types of surveys that publications can conduct. The three most popular for sales purposes are: The Audience Profile Survey is a study of your circulation. It shows who your readers are and what they do. It provides information on their readership, purchases, business, and lifestyle. The exact types of questions will depend on whether you have a consumer or business publication. Magazine Preference Surveys are usually conducted by using an outside list of names that represent your total market. These surveys show which publications in your field are received, how thoroughly they are read, and which are preferred in various areas of comparison. Advertising Readership Surveys are studies of one specific issue of a magazine. They show the degree of readership for individual ads and articles within that issue. All of these surveys can be conducted by mail, telephone, or via the Internet. Most publications conduct their surveys by mail because it allows for a high percentage response at a reasonable price.