The main U.S. newspaper auditing group said Tuesday that it would begin tallying online readership as well as print-edition circulation in a boost to an industry where advertising sales have suffered from a migration of readers to the Web.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations said it would release newspapers' print, online and combined readership figures. The numbers are a key factor in negotiations on newspaper advertising rates between newspapers and marketers.
An advertiser's main way of gauging a publication's health has been to measure the number of subscribers who buy the print edition each day.
The Audit Bureau releases average paid daily circulation for newspapers twice a year. Those numbers have been declining for years, prompting advertisers to shift more of their print budget to other media outlets.
That trend is expected to continue this week as publishers such as Gannett Co. and Dow Jones & Co. are expected to show further declines in print advertising in their quarterly earnings reports.
Publishers have tried to persuade advertisers to look at the total amount of readers papers have, including on the Internet.
Media analyst Ken Doctor at Outsell Inc. said including total readership was a good start but advertisers and media buyers would need more information to gauge how effective their ads would be on newspaper websites.