Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Radio: Portable people meter eater
And you wonder why there’s a trust issue with the ad community and the radio industry?
It’s bad enough that radio’s not even being considered on some buys. If you really want to drive another nail in the industry’s coffin continue to protest Arbitron’s PPM.
How much clearer I can make it? The party’s over. Wall Street’s not the only entity that has to be accountable to its clients.
Radio, television, newspapers, and direct mail are being deemed variable because new media are capable of providing precise marketing components for its clients.
There’s no ticket to slide. A truckload of hype sheet pie charts about who’s allegedly listening to what doesn’t cut it anymore.
The ad community has tightened its belt a few notches. That means promotion and marketing departments have to incorporate the tools and services that prove most effective to monitor a campaign. It’s all about measuring a campaign from exposure to consumer acquisition.
Say goodbye to non-accountable media spending. Radio dollars for an ad campaign are no longer a given. They haven’t been for awhile. And they won’t be if radio fails to evolve with the times.
If you’re a radio AE – get used to hearing this word. Accountability. Nothing else matters.
You’re up against new media that has the ability to attribute execution to distinct media tracts.
Arbitron diaries just don’t cut it in the 21st Century. Capish?
Diaries are for media mastodons.
I’ve had to live with Arbitron diaries being my report card, my career maker-breaker, and my sole raison d'être for survival in the radio business for my entire adult life.
In the seventies and eighties? No argument. Audience measurement by Arbitron diary was far from flawless – but it was the best of all statistical analysis available to measure radio listening.
Still, I could never visualize active young adults pulling that diary out of their hip pocket and logging into it every time they changed the station on their car radio while crusin’ down the highway.
My stations always rated best in Pulse, Mediastat, Mediatrend, and the other dozen or so phone-retrieval measurement services that are now distant memories.
But clients and agencies bought Arbitron. That’s what I would live or die by and accepted it. We all did.
Let’s be honest. By the nineties we knew the diary was dated. There was this new media contrivance called the Internet.
New technology was in development to provide improved radio ratings measurement – but this industry was as resistant to change and advancement as the village blacksmith was when the car was first introduced.
Now we’re nearly a decade into the 21st Century and we’re living a media new world order. The PPM is the best audience measurement the radio industry has. Accept it.
For those reading this that aren’t in radio business, let me explain. The Arbitron PPM, an acronym for Portable People Meter, is a pager-sized device that detects and records all the radio stations that survey participants hear during the day.
So you may work or shop or visit a location that has a radio station on that isn’t one you’d ever listen to – but while there you are hearing that station’s programming and – most importantly – spots.
To claim the PPM is unfair to minority stations is a frivolous stall tactic that makes the radio industry look bush league and passé.
In Philadelphia and Houston, where the PPM was tested, some stations whose programming appeals to a minority audience showed a decline in listenership compared to the results from estimated Arbitron diary surveys in the same markets.
It’s likely that the stations in question had embellished TSL logged by diary holders that wanted to give props to their favorite station.
It’s also likely that some PPM carriers spent time in places where stations other than their personal favorites were detected from a nearby radio.
I believe a recorded PPM over an estimated diary and I can’t comprehend why anyone wouldn’t want real-time listening over guesstimates.
If a station’s on the losing end in a PPM survey and runs the risk of declining ad revenue – it’s up to the management of that station to what we did when we were measured by diaries and had a down book: fix the problem or change the format. Duh!
New York Atty. General Andrew Cuomo is an idiot and a fool for getting involved and turning this into a legal matter.
Did you hear what he said?
He called the PPM "an affront to racial and ethnic minorities in New York and around the country" and that it "threatens the existence of diversity in radio and muzzles the voices and viewpoints of millions of Americans."
Cuomo’s lucky he didn’t get charged with impersonating Al Sharpton. I think Rev. Al should sue him for plagiarism.
The sooner Cuomo abandons this clanger, the better off the radio industry will be.
Speaking of deception, did you read the latest piece of propaganda from iBiquity and the HD Digital Radio Alliance?
This is one of those occasions when you get a press release you just can't ignore, no matter how much your instincts tell you to hit the delete key and move on.
Will someone please admit Booble, Bilk-o, and Lyin’ Diane to the Betty Ford Clinic for Habitual Liars?
Their new press release reads that: “more than 1.5 million HD Radio chips shipped.”
Chips shipped? Chips – not radios. Once again, iBiquity and the Alliance speak with forked tongue.
History lesson. That’s the same exercise that nearly devastated the record industry in the late seventies.
When the RIAA certified album sales based on shipping instead of tangible sales, major labels began pressing and shipping a million copies of albums they were pushing to claim a platinum award.
For close to six, seven months Billboard and other trades were filled with full-page ads from the labels proclaiming that their albums were being shipped platinum on the first days of its release.
The best one was when Casablanca pressed two million copies of a Cher disco album (during a dry spell when she wasn't having chart hits) just so its president Neil Bogart could factually announce on the Today show the following Monday that her album was certified "double platinum" on the day of its release.
The labels nearly went broke with this practice and frantically leased warehouse space to store their returns. I recall hearing the story about WEA Corp., the distributor of Warner Bros., Elektra, Atlantic Records and their subsidiaries, renting a three-story warehouse in Chicago, near O’Hare, that was filled top-to-bottom with album returns.
The industry joke was albums that were shipped platinum were returned double platinum.
Remember when every retail outlet from a drug store to a discount retailer had cut-out album bins filled with these d.o.a. albums for a buck apiece? Once the accountants seized control of the labels, the RIAA was forced to base their gold (500,000 copies) and platinum awards (1 million) based on sales (via bar codes) - not shipping.
The same practice applies here. Shipping chips to where? A warehouse? I wonder if the Hong Kong shipments were counted with the help of a faulty abacus.