Posts Tagged ‘metrics’

Nashville Readies for Personal People Meter Fueled Changes

June 28, 2010

Nashville, Tennessee, has just become the 44th market nationally to adopt Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) for measuring radio listenership. Considering the readings taken by the device in other markets, it is not surprising that people in Nashville are bracing for a change in the distribution of advertising funds.

As The Tennessean reports:

“It’s going to shake up the ratings and how stations are perceived by advertisers,” said Dennis Gwiazdon, president of the Nashville Area Radio Organization and vice president and general manager of South Central Media, which owns Mix 92.9 (WJXA-FM) and 96.3 JACK-FM (WCJK-FM).

“It’s definitely going to force the programming departments to be more judicious in what they play on the air.”

There is certainly precedent for this stance. Just take a look at the numbers produced for The Sean Hannity Show, which experienced a 20% drop in ratings across multiple markets after the introduction of the PPM. The Tennessean article details several more examples of a similar nature:

In Detroit, Breakfast Club morning show hosts Kevin O’Neill and Lisa Barry found themselves without a job in April when the Clear Channel-owned WNIC-FM switched to a music intensive format after PPM ratings showed the formerly No. 1 morning show was coming in at No. 11 among 35- to 64-year-old

A sample audience of 754 Nashville residents put on their PPMs and began collecting data a few days ago.  The results will be compiled and previewed by advertisers and station managers in August and then released to the public in October.

Image: Silenus81 / CC 2.0


Arbitron CEO Skarzynski Resigns

January 13, 2010

Metrics are crucial to those of us in the radio industry. In commercial radio, your revenue stream is ad revenue and ad buys are based on metrics.

It was, therefore, a major item of interest Monday when the CEO of Arbitron, who provide ratings data for a large percentage of American radio and advertising concerns, suddenly resigned without any forewarning. Immediately in the wake of this event, questions were raised about the veracity of his recent testimony before Congress. Paul Farhi, a staff writer at The Washington Post, reports:

[Michael P.] Skarzynski’s resignation comes six weeks after he testified about the PPM system in a hearing before a congressional subcommittee. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), said Monday that Skarzynski may have “intentionally misled” the panel. Congressional sources said that the resignation was related to Skarzynski’s testimony and that subcommittee staff members were reviewing the transcript.

Arbitron has had a rather rough year or two. While their new Portable People Meter (PPM) system has been embattled on several fronts, the economic recession hit, and just at a time when they were increasing their prices. On top of that, Nielsen, long at the top in the TV metrics field, has been diving into the radio metrics end of the pool. As a matter of fact, Nielsen has already taken two major clients away from Arbitron in several markets: Cumulus and Clear Channel.

RadioInk brings us a bit of info on Skarzynski’s repacement:

[William] Kerr has been on Arbitron’s board since 2007 and has chaired the board at Meredith — which publishes magazines and other special-interest publications and operates local TV stations — since 2006, having served on its board since 1994. He was Meredith’s CEO from 1996-2007 and before that was president/COO.

On the good side, it seems as though Kerr is a set of able hands in just the right place and time. No matter the real reason for Skarzynski’s departure, its abrupt nature will be sure to make waves. It would behoove all radio concerns to keep an eye on how this situation develops over the course of 2010.

Image: Arbitron Logo / Fair Use: reporting

Improving the Marketing Mix

December 9, 2009

Arbitron, Dial-Global, Premiere Radio Networks, and Westwood One are joining forces. The new collaborative initiative is geared towards improving how radio is used in Marketing Mix Models, which are used by advertisers to see how product sales are driven by differing forms of media.

MediaBuyerPlanner supplies the pertinent details:

The initiative is designed to help radio claim a larger share of marketing spend, according to Arbitron. The groups involved say the project will ensure that best practices and available data are employed when determining the value of radio to an advertiser’s potential investment, allowing advertisers to understand the link between radio and product sales.

“Premiere fully supports this long-awaited effort to improve the metrics and tools for understanding, planning and executing audio campaigns,” said Charlie Rahilly, president of the newly created National Advertising Platforms Group of Clear Channel Radio. “We’ve always known from our clients that the medium has worked. Through this initiative, we have a terrific opportunity to validate that statistically.”

More detail in the data is always a good thing. With 236 million people per week listening to radio (as reported by Radio Ink Magazine) the medium obviously retains is long-standing leverage, better and more granular statistics supporting that are needed for the modern advertising market. The establishment of best practices in gathering and analyzing that data is essential for those numbers to carry any meaning.

The four companies will be funding the initiative while they also work with leading marketing Mix companies on using the information generated to fine tune their media analysis. Every step we take in this direction is a good one. The more data we have to work with the better.  The impact and effectiveness of radio are often downplayed in certain quarters, nothing combats that sort of talk better than hard numbers.

As Arbitron’s RADAR 103 report prepares for public dissemination on December 14th, we are already getting tidbits of info from it. The same Radio Ink article listed above notes on the weekly reach of radio programming: “That’s 92.5 percent of people 12+, and includes 90 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds.”  That’s the big picture. Now it’s time for this new initiative to provide the detailed info supporting the effectiveness of that reach.

As usual, my bet is on radio!

Image: deanhp / CC BY 2.0

CBS Radio in The Internet Top 20!

November 13, 2009

cbslogoI’m going to break with tradition and be cheerful this Friday the 13th, counter-intuitive as it may be.  I’ve got some positive news to share and hopefully it will help put a positive spin on this date which inspires such dread.

Ando Media’s monthly Internet Audio Top 20 (covering May – Sept.of ’09) has been released and CBS Radio is, in the words of Casey Casem, “top of the charts!” The study marks the first time that Ando has used the “one minute qualifier,” as opposed to the former “five-minute qualifier.” In plain English, they used to only count listening sessions of five minutes or more, now they count sessions of at least one minute. The five-minute marker was instituted in the days when terrestrial radio was the only means of consumption, something invalidated by the usage habits of Internet and mobile listeners of the modern day.

In addition, there are a number of new metrics being used that are geared for measuring the contemporary audience. Here is a quick rundown from Radio Online:

New metrics of “Session Starts,” “Average Active Sessions” and “Average Time Spent Listening” better capture the new methodology. Each metric is based on a one-minute qualifier. Session Starts is defined as “The number of streams of one minute or more that are started within a time period.” Average Active Sessions is defined as “The average number of streams of one minute or more that are active within a time period.” Average Time Spent Listening is defined as “The average number of hours for each session lasting more than one minute within a time period.”

To me, this looks like a very important shift. The rules are changing, and online aspects of radio are like nothing seen before in our industry. It only makes sense to develop and implement metrics that are geared towards the new tools and delivery channels rather than relying on standards that may no longer apply. Here is a bit more on that subject from the same article:

“The changes were made in response to requests from both the publisher and the agency community for measurement standards in keeping with other digital best practices. Terrestrial radio AQH and Cume measurements are not the best metrics for measuring today’s audience delivered via a digital channel and do not accurately pertain to online audio,” stated Ando CEO Robert J. Maccini.

It’s a brave new world out there, and it’s great to see how well radio is adapting to it. You see, CBS was not alone at the top. From the world of radio,  they were joined by Citadel, Entercom, and Cox Radio who also made it into the top ten. Four terrestrial radio companies in the Internet Audio Top 20 should help chase away some of those Friday the 13th apprehensions!

There were two other notable things about this report. Pandora online radio made its debut on the list, something I’m sure has Tim Wetergren doing a tap dance, and for the first time, domestic demographics were broken out separately. All in all, I’d say that the rest of the day looks cheerier after finding that out!

Canadian Women, Sports Radio, and the PPM

October 12, 2009

canadaThere’s been all kinds of controversy about the Portable People Meter (PPM) introduced by Arbitron. Numerous challenges have been levied against it and its accuracy, while many others have supported its methodology and heralded it as the next clear step in harvesting audience metrics. Like most things in life, I would be willing to bet that reality falls somewhere in between.

BBM Canada, basically the equivalent of Arbitron north of our borders, just released their first round of PPM data and some interesting aspects of the system have come to light. You see, the PPM data shows a huge upswing in the number of female listeners tuning in to sports radio.

The Globe and Mail‘s Bruce Dowbiggin looks at the effect:

Why the sudden surge in female numbers for sports-talk formats? As opposed to the traditional diary methods of the past (which were often filled in after the fact by a single listener), PPMs record everyone in the vicinity of a radio or TV signal. So wives and girlfriends within earshot of sports-radio shows are now being lumped into the raw data.

“It was a factor of what I call aspirational tuning,” [David] Bray [senior vice president at Hennessy & Bray Communications] said. “Women filling in the diaries just felt better about recording CBC or light rock instead of a sports station. Now they can’t self-edit themselves with the PPMs.”

I find this extremely interesting. PPM measures your ambient soundscape, including radio that you might “tune out” in the background. This creates a far more complete image of what a person is exposed to over the course of their average day. How much of it actually registers, or registers only on a subconscious level, is impossible to say at this point. I doubt a reliable measurement of that nature can actually be made.

I do think it is important to have a window into the audioscape of our listeners, even something you tune out can make an impression after repeat exposure.  It is certainly something to think about.

I’m sure that the coming year or two (at least) will see a constant tug of war between Arbitron and Nielsen over what techniques of measurement are more accurate and why. Over time, competition should cause one or the other to field a truly superior product and approach. In the meantime, I advise keeping an eye on them both. Let’s see what the next level turns out to be.

Image: imuttoo / CC BY-SA 2.0

Radar 101: 235 Million People Tuning In Weekly

June 17, 2009


That’s right. In the 12 and over age bracket, there are 235 million people tuning in to radio each and every week. Monday, Arbitron will be releasing its RADAR® 101 National Radio Listening Report with all of the fine details, but in the meantime they have given us a taste of what is to come.

This year’s report is the first to make use of Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) for harvesting information, and it seems to show that radio has a much longer reach than previously thought. As a matter of fact, that is one  of the first statements made in the current media release on Arbitron’s website:

As additional radio markets transition to electronic measurement, total radio reach is revealed to be larger than in previous surveys. Listening to RADAR Network Affiliate stations has also risen year over year. Over the course of a typical week, more than 213 million persons age 12 and older tune to the more than 7,700 RADAR Network Affiliated stations, up from 210 million listeners one year ago in RADAR 97.

There is lots of other encouraging data they’ve shared as well.

  • Radio reaches 92% of persons 12+ each week, not too shabby in light of the rise of mp3 players and Internet radio.
  • 89 % of the youngest radio audience (12-17 years old) tune in each week. Since this is the demographic most used to new and alternative media, this finding shows radio’s continuing relevance to the tech-oriented younger generations.
  • Network radio also reaches almost 85% of adults 18-34, “the ad elusive and media multi-taskers.”
  • 92% of black non-Hispanics and 93% of Hispanics 12 and older tune to radio in a given week.
  • Radio reaches about 93% of black non-Hispanics and Hispanics age 18–49.
  • Radio reaches more than 94% of college graduates ages 25–54 with a college degree and an annual income of $50,000 or more.
  • Network affiliated stations reach nearly 86% of college graduates ages 18-49 with a household income of $75,000 or more.  (All radio stations reach close to 94%) of this age group.

I would say that this is great news across the board! The ubiquitous nature of radio has never really been in question, but it is always nice to hard numbers that verify that reach. Granted that the jury is still out on the how accurate the PPM system is, I still believe that these numbers both encouraging and worth examining. Since Nielsen is now competing with Arbitron in the radio metrics area, I will be most curious to see how their research compares once they release some.

Photo courtesy of Marcus Q, used under its Creative Commons license

Urban and Hispanic Radio: Engaged and Exclusive!

March 19, 2009


Radio One regional VP Doug Abernathy is a veteran.  He’d seen firsthand the casualties sustained at the ratings level when his leading Houston-based radio stations dropped like rocks, when he converted from the old-fashioned diary method to the Portable People Meter (PPM). That was in June of last year.

In the intervening year the stations in question, Urban Adult Contemporary KMJQ-FM and Urban KBXX-FM, have been working hard to adjust their strategies based on the new ratings technology. Their course has been educational, and surprising.

Barry Fischer, Executive VP of McGavren Guild Media, which consults with Hispanic Radio, used the PPM data to validate that, according to Fischer, Hispanic stations as a whole have delivered a total of national radio cume of 7.2 – 7.6 million. He said, “Our story is not that dramatically different. Our strategy revolves around that and selling an audience that is engaged.”

Via MediaWeek:

Abernathy declared “over” the practice of advertisers using general market stations to reach black audiences and said a huge opportunity exists “to sell the exclusivity that we always thought we had and can now demonstrate. Urban and Hispanics are the most loyal audiences and you can’t get them through other stations.”

Fischer echoed the notion saying that advertisers are better off zeroing in on a smaller, more engaged audience. “Would you rather advertise on an urban or Hispanic stations that is culturally relevant, out in the community doing events that engage that audience or on a general market station that doesn’t?”

I find it interesting that this mirrors the approach many people take while using the Internet for posting content — aiming for high impact, narrower markets (while the conventional wisdom of the web, that no matter how narrow the niche there is an audience, is not quite as extreme in the world of traditional broadcast). Of course, there is the pesky little fact that radio’s evolution dictates being on the net…

Photo courtesy of Aoife city womanchile

Arbitron and Maryland AG Reach Accord

February 9, 2009


That’s right. Arbitron has reached an agreement with the Maryland Attorney General’s office about changes in the way that they sample their data using the relatively new Portable People Meter (PPM).  The particulars of this agreement echo those already reached with the Attorney Generals of New York and New Jersey.

Basically, the methodology used for picking who will use the PPM will be shifting. Instead of predominantly telephone number-based sampling, Arbitron has agreed to continually increasing percentage of those sampled to be picked by address. As someone who has only a cell phone, not a landline, I appreciate the logic of the new approach. I would say that a minimum of 50% of my social circle no longer have landlines either. (Besides, I can’t pick up radio on a landline.)

Via Radio Ink:

“The company’s long-standing continuous improvement programs are a powerful framework for enhancing our Portable People Meter radio ratings services,” said Arbitron President/CEO Michael Skarzynski. “This agreement with the Maryland Attorney General further indicates that Arbitron is proceeding along the appropriate course as we commercialize PPM in the top radio markets.”

Like any new system, it will take awhile for the PPM to find its equilibrium. Once you start with practical application of any device, there is always a shakedown period during which adjustments of this nature are made. I see it as a simple, logical and necessary part of the process. All in all, good news. Especially with the PPM due to be commercialized in Baltimore, MD, this coming October.

Photo courtesy of The Truth ABout…, used under its Creative Commons license

Radio Ads Go STRATOSphereic!

September 18, 2008

How would you like real time response and metrics on your radio ads? How would you like to allow users to view supplemental info including polls, video and more? And lastly, how would you like to integrate this power into what is becoming the most ubiquitous technology besides broadcast radio itself? Well, now you can.

Once more, we are seeing a confluence of broadcast, Internet, and cell phone technology. I’ve written on several occasions about this particular evolution because I find it to be a very important sign of things to come. Everyone seems to have a cell phone these days. I even see pre-teen children carrying them pressed to their ears as they chatter away about Pokemon or the cartoon program du jour. Bringing the immediate interactivity that people have come to expect in the text message/Internet age with the content of broadcast and leveraging it into the pockets of almost every American is the type of forward thinking our industry needs.

This is why I would like to turn your attention to StratosAudio as they join the ranks of the newest wave of innovation. This via the press release on MarketWatch:

Both AM and FM radio services are offered. AM talk radio hosts can interact with a mass audience instantly, driving listeners to click in response to polls or obtain additional detail on programs. The Stratos ad campaign entitled “Do I have the phone?” is designed to pool over a million Americans that already have Stratos Interactive capable handsets into a single database, providing important demographic target metrics for advertisers and agencies. Entrants qualify for prizes such as consumer electronics, sporting goods and season passes.
[…] The StratosAudio technology enables radio to exceed the value offered by services such as the Internet through broadcasting a call to action with immediate response, followed by real-time, measurable demographic metrics. The patented StratosAudio technology finally brings accountability to radio.
Now one thing that strikes me immediately about this is the fact that it covers the AM band. Off the top of my head, I believe that it is the only one. Several new systems are coming online to allow the integration of iTunes tagging and other social features into cell phone radio receivers. The thing that makes this effort notable, in my opinion anyway, is that by embracing AM they are embracing Talk Radio.
The ability to combine instant response and metrics with the massive audiences of Talk Radio is something that could have major implications for the industry across the board. No matter what your opinion of Talk Radio’s content, may be you have to admit that this has serious growth potential for the industry as a whole.

Photo courtesy of TedKerwin, used under its Creative Commons license