Advertising in print and digital media can be an effective way for companies to reach potential customers -- as long as the potential customers see the ads. Advertising rates are typically based on a publication’s readership. Ads in a magazine with 1 million readers cost much more than the same ads in a publication with 100,000 readers. Readership measures for print and digital media are different. Understanding something about how each is determined helps get you the biggest bang for your advertising buck.

Readership of Print Media

To calculate readership for newspapers and other print media, first determine the circulation. Circulation includes all copies actually in the hands of the public, whether sold or given away. The other component of print readership is readers per copy, meaning that more than one person will read a single copy of a newspaper or magazine. RPC is estimated using reader surveys. The formula for readership is RPC multiplied by circulation. Suppose a magazine has a circulation of 150,000 and a RPC of 2.5. This gives a readership of 375,000. Advertisers in the United States usually rely on circulation and RPC figures verified by the independent auditing agency Alliance for Audited Media.

Electronic Readership

There is no generally accepted method for calculating readership for digital media. Frequently, web publications track readership by counting page views -- the number of times someone clicks on a document -- or unique views, which measure the number of visitors to the site. Social media and mobile devices are changing the concept of readership for electronic media, however. A common approach is to measure the time viewers spend on a website, rather than the number of visits.