Digital Panel

What is the PAMCo Digital Panel for?

The principal purpose of the Panel is to provide single source data on duplication between reading in print and reading on digital platforms, which is used to set targets for the duplications in the final fused database. It is not the intention to report digital platform estimates directly from the Panel.

What is the value of the PAMCo Digital Panel?

The Panel provides data which:

  • Provides a benchmark to validate how well the fusion is working.
  • Ensures print and digital duplication of reading is fully represented, particularly for the smaller brands for which this is more of a challenge for the fusion. Using duplication targets based on the Panel data, all brands have at least some duplication and for smaller brands around 20-30% extra duplication (relative to the fusion alone) is added in.

Why are you not publishing digital audience estimates from the Panel?

With a sample of 5,000, the Panel is too small to provide direct measures for more than a small number of brands. Its purpose is instead to provide a high-quality source of data on print and digital duplication and to enable net reach to be calculated more effectively than has been possible in the past

How does the PAMCo Panel measure digital reading?

Reading of publisher’s digital platforms is measured via an app installed on all of the participant’s devices.  Content must be tagged in order to be measured by the PAMCo Panel.  Digital reading is recorded for 28 consecutive days as soon as possible after the print readership interview, and participants are asked to install the app onto all their digital devices for a period of 8 weeks to ensure this is possible.

How are the Panel data used?

The Panel data are used to measure how much more likely print readers are than non-print readers to visit digital platforms of the brand concerned.  For some brands there is very little difference between print readers and non-print readers, for others there is a much stronger relationship, with print readers being much more likely than non-print readers to visit digital platforms for that brand.

This information is used to set a target print and digital duplication for each brand, which must take into account both the information from the Panel and the size of the Comscore digital audience estimate.  Duplication targets are set at a monthly level, and initially for digital reading as a whole (though the allocation process takes into account the various different digital platforms).

When datasets are brought together (in this case PAMCo and Comscore) there is a natural tendency to underestimate duplication, particularly if sample sizes are low.  The target duplications derived from the Panel data are used to adjust the print and digital reading duplications in the fused dataset and ensure duplication is represented fully.  For the largest brands these adjustments tend to be small, as the fusion is already capturing most of the expected duplication.  For smaller brands around 20-30% extra duplication (relative to the fusion alone) is added in.

This means there tends to be more print and digital duplication of reading in PAMCo data than there was in NRS PADD, and all brands have at least some duplication, which was not always the case with NRS PADD.

Is a sample size of 5,000 enough to generate duplication targets for the smaller brands?

Ipsos use a sample of around 5,000 collected across c.15 months to generate the duplication targets, though in practice samples by individual brand may be less than that if tagging has not been at 100% throughout.  Ipsos have developed an innovative solution to provide duplication targets for all brands:

  • A smoothing approach is used which is variable by sample size. For large sample brands smoothing is minimal, while small sample brands have more smoothing applied to their targets, to avoid volatility.
  • The smoothing model also draws on claimed duplication data from the PAMCo print survey to help predict duplication targets for brands for which there is insufficient panel sample (though it would not be appropriate to take these data at face-value due to the biases and understatement in what participants claim they have read on screen).

Why are the duplication targets calculated, rather than taken directly from the Panel?

  • To take account of different levels of readership in the fused PAMCo/Comscore database compared the PAMCo Panel, e.g. if the Comscore estimate is bigger than the digital reach observed in the Panel, which is often the case.
  • To take account of sample sizes which are too small to produce reliable duplication estimates.

How representative is the Panel?

The Panel is recruited directly from the high-quality PAMCo sample, with every effort made to encourage participation.  It has the challenging objective of measuring visits to publisher sites across all the participant’s devices, rather than a single device, which would be much easier to achieve.  As such, the Panel quality is high relative to the more usual ‘opt-in’ sample used for digital measurement panels.

As with most samples, there are some skews in the unweighted sample.  The most noticeable is to somewhat under-represent those with 3+ devices, and a tendency to under- represent men and over- represent women.  The Panel data are therefore weighted by gender and age, newspaper and magazine readership (to ensure print readers are not over-represented) and 4-week print readership and device usage, to correct these skews as far as possible.

Other points to note are:

  • Reading via work computers is not included. It is not possible to achieve the necessary permissions to provide a representative sample of reading at work for PAMCo’s purposes.
  • Reading via third-party platforms is not included, other than for Google AMP if the correct tags are in place.
  • The Tracker App cannot identify if different people are using a single device, particularly as it is designed to be as non-intrusive as possible. Only primary users of phones and tablets will have their reading measured, which helps reduce the likelihood of shared usage.  While in some cases there will be some overstatement of digital repertoire, the claimed usage data suggest relatively low levels of shared usage.

In respect of all of these points, please bear in mind that the main purpose of the digital panel is to provide single-source data on duplication of reading between print and digital, rather than a direct measure of visits to digital platforms. For the first time single-source data on the cross-over between print and digital reading are available across the market and to a high standard given the recruitment challenges involved.

The PAMCo Technical Group has conducted an assessment of the data provided by the Panel, which appear credible in terms of relationships between the print and digital platforms, and between different types of brand and content.


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