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Opinion: Why PAMCo is a Catalyst for Change

“In any rational world, there should now be a renaissance in sophisticated media planning rather than mere trading and the pressing of the social media digital default button.”

This was renowned media journalist and commentator Raymond Snoddy’s reaction to the recent launch of PAMCo – Audience Measurement for Publishers.

Snoddy’s point on this landmark moment for published media cuts right to the heart of whether PAMCo will be deemed a success in the longer term, when the initial fanfare has subsided. Specifically, will it be the starting gun for a reappraisal of the considerable strengths of published media in the eyes of media agencies? And will that reappraisal lead to a change in planning behaviour, now that this brand-centric currency provides the opportunity to plan across all print and digital platforms, and understand the total brand reach of magazine and news brands?

This significant investment by the published media industry has delivered a currency that is underpinned by a world-leading methodology, and has upped the ante in terms of offering objective, transparent, and accountable audience measurement. And this is a media sector that has good previous form when it comes to delivering robust and accurate audience measurement – that in itself is not the big story. The big step forward here is that PAMCo is brand-centric, and completely platform agnostic, so planners can assess reach, frequency, and engagement metrics with confidence, across significantly more magazine and news brands than ever before.

As we tip our hats and bid farewell to the outgoing National Readership Survey (NRS) currency, which was developed for print, in the days before the digital revolution was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, we welcome with open arms an approach which is fit for the modern media landscape, and crucially, is future-proofed to reflect the changing demand for content on different platforms.

PAMCo’s arrival comes during a period of considerable debate and scrutiny within the industry on the impact of marketing and advertising ‘short-termism’, and the insatiable appetite for short-term returns at the cost of longer term brand-building. Les Binet and Peter Field have spoken of the pendulum swinging too far towards direct response ad channels, at the cost of building long-term brand equity (the fabled optimum 60/40 brand to direct response ratio, moving to 50/50, and beyond in favour of short-term channels). Douglas McCabe, of Enders Analysis, has spoken of the ‘false sense of confidence in how well things can be measured’, in the digital arena.

All of which means that PAMCo is here at the right time to place highly trusted magazine brands front and centre of the debate around transparency and accountability.  

PAMCo enhances and helps to validate some of the key strengths of magazine media, which the likes of Time Inc. UK have spoken about at length, in recent years. These brands continue to deliver highly passionate and engaged audiences, via premium brand-safe environments, which allow precision contextual targeting for brands. This remains an incredibly powerful set of strengths, which we are very proud of as premium publishers.  

PAMCo has removed the final barrier to effectively planning across these brands and audiences, because it can quantify total brand reach, and break that reach down by platform and device type. It is a game-changer.

This quality, engaged reach is brought to life by the PAMCo data. Magazine media brands demonstrate a 69% monthly reach of all adults, increasing to 72% among 15-34 year olds. Perhaps more interestingly, the unique power of magazine brands to engage, and offer a personal, high quality experience comes through within PAMCo. 69% of magazine readers feel a close connection to the brand, 90% feel reading a magazine is time well spent, 83% trust what they read in magazines, and 69% say it offers them something they can’t get elsewhere, which is highly significant in an increasingly homogenised media landscape – especially for brands wanting to cut through the noise.

This set of highly impressive figures has been a very long time in the making. Such high levels of audience trust, significant amounts of time spent with these brands, and the close connection and affinity between magazine brand and consumer, are the result of delivering a premium experience which fuels people’s passions, repeatedly over a very long period of time.

PAMCo means that our quality reach and engagement is now more accessible and measurable than ever before, which is exactly what the media planning community demanded of us. The coming months will be fascinating, as we work with agencies and brands to unlock the power of PAMCo, and make it the catalyst for change that Snoddy suggests it should be.

Richard Thomas, Head of Insight at Time Inc. UK