Studying form of the sections

What an intriguing letter from Guy Sellers of Total Media (MW, October 27) commenting on the recent newspaper sections readership research from Leo Burnett and CIA. Three points need to be made in response.

Firstly, is this the same Total Media which declared on this self-same letters page, as recently as June, that “we should not hold our breath folks, sectionalisation research isn’t going to be available for at least the next three years”.

How foolish it must feel with the recent arrival of not one, but two studies on this subject.

Secondly, he should understand that the CIA and Burnett studies do not duplicate or conflict with each other, as anyone in media research will gladly tell him. Each uses a different methodology to research different aspects of sections readership.

Lastly, I cannot deny that one of Burnett’s motives for joining forces with Express Newspapers and the COI in this project was to provide our clients with a competitive advantage in the aspects of press planning and buying. This said, the study is already making a meaningful contribution to the wider debate on all-industry-sponsored sections research. And as the IPA has acknowledged in the Seal of Approval it has just awarded the research, “the survey fills a large part of the prominent gap in [the industry’s] knowledge”.

Let’s hope that Total Media’s future contribution to this sensitive topic is a little more constructive.

Rupert Steele

UK media research manager

Leo Burnett

London SW3

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