Examining the PMB/NADbank merger

New organization will produce quarterly data using a sample of 36,000 people 12+

The recent merger between print measurement bodies Print Measurement Bureau (PMB) and Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank) will create better research at a reduced cost say the organizations’ respective chairs.

Andrew Saunders, NADbank chair and chief revenue officer for The Globe and Mail, said the new organization, temporarily named Amalco, will provide more comprehensive readership data – including a brand’s digital footprint and its role in the path to purchase – on a more frequent basis.

It also creates a financially stable measurement organization, capable of offering more detailed information for publishers, agencies and advertisers, he said. For media agencies, the merger removes a layer of complexity by requiring them to work with only one set of data.

“It’s an evolution that’s taken place,” said Saunders. “When you look at the complexity of the industry, the reality is that by combining forces we’ll have better measurement that will ultimately provide better value to our constituents.”

The plethora of distribution tactics and platforms has made it increasingly difficult for publishers and advertisers to track and measure how titles are connecting with readers from a reach and engagement perspective, concerns that will be addressed by the new entity.

The merger is also expected to produce what Saunders characterized as “considerable” savings. PMB chair Kirby Miller pegged the annual cost savings – stemming primarily from reduced research costs, but also reduced office space – at $2.5 million.

The plan is for Amalco to be housed in the PMB offices at 77 Bloor St. West in downtown Toronto. Miller said the annual cost savings for members will be between 25% and 30%.

“If you’re merging two organizations, there are some redundancies and some operational expenses [being stripped out], so that’s a positive,” said Saunders, who said many of the cost savings would be diverted towards enhancing the non-profit organization’s research capabilities.

“We wanted to reduce costs for sure, but the primary driver was how do we ensure we elevate or improve the methodology so we can have better measurement in a very fast moving environment,” he said.

Miller, who is also senior vice-president and general manager for Toronto-based House & Home Media, said the consolidation will eliminate duplicate data and, more importantly, enable the organization to delve deeper into understanding digital audiences.

“There is a need and a desire for both industries to get ahead of the curve in terms of understanding our digital audience, and that’s something we believe we can do better together rather than individually,” he said. “We weren’t able to effectively tackle this problem as PMB or NADbank, but we feel collectively, with the help of the client and agency community, we can really begin [with the new entity].”

Miller said the biggest stumbling block around the merger was determining the appropriate research methodology and which company should provide it. He said several measurement groups responded to a tender for research services, including Ipsos and GFK, but the working group overseeing the merger ultimately decided that existing partner research TNS was still the right fit.

Miller said in his opinion TNS created the greatest cost savings, while its view of digital footprint measurement aligned with that of the working group.

Fieldwork for the new study commences in January, with future data based on an online survey of 36,000 people aged 12+. That information will become “more robust” as the study evolves, said Saunders.

The new organization will have a new president and CEO appointed by the board of directors, though Saunders said both NADbank president Anne Crassweller and her PMB counterpart Steve Ferley will stay on with the organization through a transition period, which is expected to last for several months.

A new name for the company will be determined by the new board, which is expected to meet prior to the first study in June. “We didn’t want to pre-name the baby before it arrived, so we’re letting the new board handle a lot of that heavy lifting,” said Miller.

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