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Media Buying Software from MediaLink Software

Circulation and Readership

As a (soon to be) college graduate, interning at an advertising agency has been an enlightening experience. One of the bigger takeaways I’ve had is the different vernacular used by media buyers and those selling media. The two that really stood out to me were “readership” and “circulation”. They originally seemed like they could be used interchangeably, but through my internship, I learned about the differences.

Readership and Circulation help publications, such as newspaper and magazines, decide the cost of advertising. Advertisers also look at these numbers when they are looking to improve the visibility of their product or service. However, circulation and readership are not interchangeable terms and there are differences between the two.

Circulation is the number of newspaper/magazine copies distributed on average in a day. Advertisers need to be aware when deciding which publications to place ads in, because circulation includes both paid circulation, as well as newspapers that are distributed free of cost.

Readership is a calculation based upon the average number of people who read an individual copy of the publication. The number is an estimate of how many hands a copy of a newspaper goes into. The theory is that though a household subscribes to a publication, it is read by multiple people in that household. For this reason, readership is always higher than circulation.

As a media buying software, Media Link Software™ uses circulation in all of their calculations for Reach and Frequency. We use this number on the basis of guarantees.  For example, I can’t prove that for every publication printed, 2.3 people will read a copy. But I do know a certain number of copies will be printed and distributed on any given day.

To learn more about readership and circulation, visit  To learn more about Media Link Software™, call 207-212-5465 or email


**This blog was written by Kelsey Erichsen a recent graduate of St. Ambrose University and a former Intern at Media Link, Inc.