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One Rating to Rule Them All

April 21, 2017

Remember a couple of years ago when Nielsen announced Total Audience Measurement? And, remember our excitement about the prospect of a single ratings metric that combines all audio listening in your market?

What a wonderful world that promised to be. All audio sources competing in the same space and generating comparable numbers. Finally, we would be able to see if Pandora really did have the #1 station in every market. We could quantify what Spotify’s exponential growth really meant. And, how much of iHeart’s digital numbers were cannibalizing their terrestrial sticks.

Then…crickets.

There were conflicting rumors and whispers about what was holding this up. Nielsen – for its part – claimed to be ready to proceed. Of course, traditional radio people assumed that the pure plays were holding up the process (and, likely, vice versa).

However, recent evidence points to the possibility that the holdup is not in the hands of Spotify or Pandora. After recently updating my Spotify software I decided to read the “what’s new” section (for the first time). What did I discover? That Spotify is down with Nielsen.

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Digging a little further it appears that Pandora is in, as well.

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So, it would appear that the reason we do not have total audio measurement is being held up…somewhere else.

The big question is – why?

  • Is it a technical issue?
  • Problem with the output?
  • Broadcaster reluctance?
  • No buy-in from the advertising community?
  • Some unseen force?

Radio has been the maligned medium for much too long. We’re not cool. Millennials “never” listen. We are losing advertising dollars to bots, uh, I mean digital suppliers. However, we have a potential tool that can show us the power of audio programming. Of course, it could also show that traditional radio is actually losing ground and acceptance with a wider audience. We at Research Director, Inc. believe that when we have a fair comparison to other audio channels, radio’s strength will shine.

We (and we suspect you) know that radio remains an effective and affordable advertising medium. Businesses are not in the habit of throwing money away on a platform that does not produce results (insert display ad joke here…). We need to be able to compare the data on a comparable basis. How big is Pandora’s weekly cume…really? What is the AWTE for Spotify? Are iHeart Radio, Apple Music, Slacker, etc. generating measurable listening shares?

Yes, the news could turn out to be dire. But, based on the non-industry press and general consensus the situation is already dire. Wouldn’t truth be better than speculation – even if the truth hurts?

Digital is not going away. Neither is radio. Isn’t it time we’re able to look at each platform side-by-side? We need accurate, comparable data in order to make informed decisions. The clock is ticking…

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant

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