What is readership?
Readership is the number of individuals who read a particular print publication or online published piece of content. In the print context, readership differs from circulation in that it attempts to count the number of individuals who read the publication.
How readership works
Readership for print publications is generally determined through subscriber surveys. While circulation is easily counted, readership is more challenging since more than one person might read a copy of a publication. Asking subscribers can help determine readership.
A number of methods can be used to determine online readership. Page views, unique visitors, and time spent on a Webpage are all used to count number of readers. There's also no set approach to determine readership on social media, although reactions to a post such as likes and shares, and impressions are considered useful measures.
Metric for advertisers
Readership levels are an important metric for advertisers as they're looking to reach as many readers as possible. Advertising rates are partly determined by readership as well as readership demographics.
Why readership matters
It measures effectiveness
Readership is essentially crowdsourcing approval or disapproval of what is being published. This doesn't necessarily speak to the quality of the publication, but it does speak to the size of the audience. Growth of readership over time is a particularly positive metric.
Most publications are mostly funded by advertising. Readership, along with readership demographics, are a major factor in attracting advertisers to publications. Higher is almost always better.
Readers have limited time to consume content so if they're reading one publication, especially an industry related publication, it's likely they're not reading the competition. Larger readership means larger marketshare.