CRA confirms paper diaries were ditched completely in Melbourne

Former Editor & Content Director
CRA's ongoing Radio Alive campaign

The radio industry’s peak body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) has confirmed that the upcoming ratings data in Melbourne has been obtained 100% from e-diaries, with paper diaries playing no role due to COVID-19 restrictions and the associated lockdowns.

Radio ratings were paused in April due to the difficulties of getting paper diaries to consumers and gathering in-person data. The scheduled surveys 3, 4 and 5 were not released as initially scheduled.

In July, CRA said ratings would be back in September, with Melbourne increasing its e-diary component from 30% to 40%.

Speaking to Radio Today today, however, CEO of CRA Joan Warner revealed Melbourne was now reliant on e-diaries and had ditched paper diaries for the foreseeable future.

“As you know we’re 30% e-diary anyway, and 70% paper diary, and it was really Melbourne that ended up being, not the problem market, I shouldn’t say that, because it was just a fact of life that people could not deliver that 70% of paper diaries, they weren’t allowed out and people weren’t opening their doors. Whereas everywhere else around, all the other capital cities, everything’s been as normal,” she told Radio Today. 

“But Melbourne had to. GfK were very good, they had a plan in pace to allow telephone placement, and then online diary, filling out of online diaries. So they weren’t even posting out diaries, for example, because people get something in the mail and go ‘Oh, should I be touching this?’”

In addition, she noted that should the Melbourne experiment prove successful, it could expedite the adoption of e-diaries across the country.

Warner (pictured) says all options for the future of radio ratings are ‘up for grabs’ 

“We’re looking froward to seeing what the impact of that higher percentage of e-diaries will be in Melbourne as well, because that’s one of the factors that we’re looking at going forward into the future, having a higher percentage of e-diaries than we have at present. So that will be a bit of a trial run, I think. We’ll see the impact. But at the moment, what we’re thinking, and what people are finding with their tracking, is that the listening patterns are pretty much the same.”

Warner was, however, unwilling to fully commit to the ratings moving completely online at this stage.

“We might, we might,” she said in response to the question of e-diaries becoming the dominant force in radio measurement.

“Everything’s up for grabs. We’ve got the Measurement Innovation Project underway. And we’re waiting on analysis on the myriad bits of different data that GfK have collected over the past 18 months on how apps work, how passive measurement works, how e-diaries compare with paper diaries, and even how at some stage next year we integrate real-time streaming data – so getting hold of server logs right at the source,” she said of the future of ratings and measurement.

Either way, Warner, CRA and GfK want to COVID-proof their methodology, in case the pandemic returns, or some other hinderance emerges.

“So in a way, the COVID pandemic has assisted us with our Measurement Innovation Project, because it’s forced us on some elements that we mightn’t have focused on so much prior to that – or so quickly. We were focusing on them, but we may not have moved so quickly with,” she said.

“So, in that way COVID’s been good for us. It’s focused our minds. It’s made us go ‘Okay, we’ve got to future-proof ourselves in case this happens again’, which we hope it doesn’t, of course. So everything is in the mix for the Measurement Innovation Project, and we’re expecting to get some recommendations in the last quarter of this year from GfK, and maybe making some announcements about phases and changes and a roadmap to the future towards the end of the year, which we think will be exciting.”

Survey 6’s results come out next week on Tuesday, September 29.

Comment Form

Your email address will not be published.

Recent comments (6)
Post new comment
Mick C
22 Sep 2020 - 5:26 pm

Have never ever had a diary to fill in
Here in Sydney

22 Sep 2020 - 6:16 pm

While CRA at at it, perhaps increase the number reporting so we get accurate results

Fake News and Fake Numbers
22 Sep 2020 - 6:23 pm

Do they still not include diaries where zero radio listening took place but apply the %s to the whole population?

Peter Johnson
23 Sep 2020 - 10:10 am

The most disgraceful decision was to stop the radio ratings because it was not considered safe for people to fill out a diary

Total incompetence

Andy Maher
23 Sep 2020 - 10:54 am

If I recall correctly when electronic measurement was introduced in North America (might I add over a decade ago…) listening patterns turned out to be somewhat different from what paper diaries had indicated.

From what I read rock formats were more popular, and breakfast radio was less so, especially for younger demos.

Status quo
23 Sep 2020 - 11:21 am

A flawed and archaic methodology to say the least, in an industry that is too afraid to go with PPM because of the seismic shift in the accuracy of the results it would bring.

What radio station wants to see the data that the vast majority turns off in an add break, a talk break, or if they don’t like the song?

It’s a rock in a hard place situation; The current methodology gives consistent results for the agencies, but isn’t robust by today’s standards. Or go PPM and be grossly confronted by the truth of what actually happens in the listeners world.


See all