Bob Michaels Weighs In On Nielsen Radio Survey
November 18, 2008 at 8:20 AM (PT)
MEDIASENSE Pres. BOB MICHAELS, former ARBITRON and PPM VP/Programming Services, has some comments on the just-announced NIELSEN/CUMULUS sticker diary service. He begins with the following observations:
* A one-time-a-year, two-month survey takes radio back to the 1960s and 1970s. During the '60's and '70s, radio stations would "hype" the one-month, once-a-year survey with crazy contesting and giveaways. Advertisers were suspicious of short surveys that stations can hype. In the 1980s, radio embraced 12-week surveys to reduce the impact of hyping surveys. Then, in the 1990s, U.S. radio put two 12-week surveys in place to further reduce hyping and bounce. ARBITRON's 24 weeks of measurement is three times as much as CUMULUS' proposed two-month service, if that will be the annual measurement period.
A one-time-a-year, two-month survey takes radio back to the 1960s and 1970s.
* The CUMULUS sticker diary might work in AUSTRALIA where there are so few stations. A sticker diary is unworkable in the U.S. with over a hundred stations showing in the typical market. Subscribers today can just use a MAXIMI$ER ranker and select "all" stations to get an idea of the number of stations that showed up in their market.
The Diary Down Under
In AUSTRALIA, a sticker diary is planned in 2009 where medium and small markets only have one to four stations. The largest AUSTRALIAN markets have 12 total stations. Having a consumer have to peer through pages and pages of stickers in a typical U.S. radio market sounds cumbersome and unworkable. I would be concerned about a negative impact on radio listening levels if diary keeping becomes so difficult.
* Which stations get to be "at the top" of the sticker page?
Stations that are at the top of the sticker page would get more favorable ratings that those stations that are at the bottom of the last page of stickers. Who decides where the stations appear on the sticker pages? Will all the stations that have historically shown up in the ARBITRON diary service be included on this list? This also leads to ...
* What types of station identifiers appear on a sticker attached to the sticker diary?
Should it be call letters, slogan, frequency, or all of the above? Putting all that station information on all those stickers seems very cumbersome. This type of aided recall represents a major shift in the unaided manner of radio has been measured with the ARBITRON open end diary and with PPM. In the U.S. there are 10 times as many stations that might show up in diaries as compared to AUSTRALIA. For example, consider these three medium-sized CUMULUS markets:
In MELBOURNE-TITUSVILLE-COCOA FLORIDA (ranked market # 97) 112 stations show up in the Maximi$er database, in OXNARD-VENTURA market #117, 71 stations show up; in LEXINGTON-FAYETTEVILLE market #105, 109 radio stations show up. In the smallest CUMULUS market, BISMARCK, market rank #286, 45 radio stations appear in MAXIMI$ER.
"It will be interesting to see how they handle some of these issues which have come up before for ARBITRON when they investigated various survey options for these medium and small markets."