Monday, July 11, 2011 | 3 a.m.
VEGAS INC Coverage
It’s a maxim established centuries ago: To be successful in business, you have to know what the customer wants. Because we’re basically a reflection of our audience’s interests, it’s a long-accepted principle in the world of media.
In producing content readers want, there are plenty of times our editors must rely on instinct. And occasionally, lessons from media in other cities are applied locally. But really, nothing is quite as valuable as the guidance we receive from our own community.
Much of this feedback comes more swiftly these days, thanks to the Web. Online, reader reactions can be almost instantaneous, and patterns are quickly identified.
Like most serious media, though, we also rely on credible third-party research to help us develop a more specific understanding of what readers want. These surveys are conducted on various schedules and frequencies, each designed to obtain its own particular set of data. This has been one of those rare years in which several researchers were conducting surveys simultaneously.
As a result, a number of locals—readers and nonreaders alike—have had the chance to get counted and to share their preferences on all sorts of things. Some initial results started coming in a couple of weeks ago.
The biggest new package of data is from Scarborough Research, a firm that examines the top 81 metro areas in the US twice a year. Scarborough measures lifestyles, shopping patterns, media behaviors and demographics of American consumers on a local, regional and national basis. Its data is used by marketers, media buyers and the media industry to develop successful and cost-effective programs that maximize return on investments.
Scarborough also tells us how many actual readers we have, along with how many readers, viewers or listeners other local media have. In Southern Nevada, a large sample of 1,995 residents were interviewed between November and April, producing results with a 95 percent degree of accuracy.
Scarborough’s goal is to obtain a true, unbiased portrait of a metro area. Its methodology has for some time accounted for contemporary realities, such as busy schedules and households without landlines. In our metro area, Scarborough also strives to exclude tourists from its surveys, and to account for our many shift workers and odd schedules.
The complex data Scarborough provides is used by a broad selection of companies, such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, Colgate-Palmolive, Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Nordstrom, Macy’s, AutoZone, Wells Fargo, Trump, General Growth Properties, Chapman Automotive Group, Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA and NHL. Many other larger and smaller companies also subscribe.
When you obtain the right to Scarborough data, it comes with an understanding that you can’t change or distort the information. You simply get access to the research Scarborough has conducted in your community. So each customer has to be prepared to live with what it shows, good or bad.
Fortunately, VEGAS INC scored well in Scarborough’s first release of the year. In a measurement of “unique” readers of local business media over a six-month cumulative period, VEGAS INC had about twice the following of its nearest competitor and more than four times the readers of the other one.
Based on your early overwhelmingly positive reaction to our new format, we’re expecting additional growth in the near future.
In addition to Scarborough, we subscribe to Media Audit, another well-regarded national firm. It also is a local-market survey of more than 80 metro areas in the US. This research is designed primarily to measure media habits, and it, too, prohibits distortion of the data. The Media Audit is particularly useful in helping us combine print and web advertising into the most efficient packages for customers, and enables us to recommend the most effective places for their valuable advertising dollars.
In addition to these two studies, some readers have been surveyed recently by Readex Research, which compiles information purely about business readers. It tells us what you read and what you don’t, along with other valuable details that many of our advertisers use. Readex is commissioned only every third year by the City Business Journals Network, a national advertising confederation to which VEGAS INC belongs. These results will be available in August, and we’ll be eager to share them with you then.
All this data will serve as a benchmark in our ongoing refinement of VEGAS INC. If you’ve participated in any of this research, please accept our thanks, along with a pledge that we will put this information to work for our readers and advertisers.