Radio ratings overhauled: A move away from paper diaries, integration of streaming data & wearable meters
The radio ratings system as we know it is coming to an end, with Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) announcing a major overhaul.
The long-anticipated Radio360 program will involve the measurement system moving away from paper surveys to predominately rely on electronic diaries (e-diaries).
Live streaming data will also be integrated to provide more information on the size and profile of audiences listening across digital platforms.
In addition, a panel of 2,000 consumers will be asked to wear an electronic watch meter that will detect when the wearer is in listening range of radio broadcast. The device will provide encrypted anonymised information which will be used to validate and ensure the streaming data is accurate and deduplicated.
The rollout, in partnership with measurement provider GfK, will begin late this year and will accelerate throughout 2022.
CRA said the transition away from paper diaries has already begun, and the stronger focus on e-diaries will be steadily increased from Survey 6 this year. The industry body said this will also make the ratings more resilient to COVID disruptions, while maintaining the annual sample size of 60,000.
The integration of streaming audiences, meanwhile, will commence early in 2022. Streaming data will then be integrated with broadcast audience data, accredited via Gold Standard radio analysis software, and made available as part of regular ratings reports.
CRA said these innovations will place Australia at the forefront of radio measurement globally.
Joan Warner, CRA CEO, said the changes are a necessary and natural response to evolving listening habits.
“The overhaul of the radio ratings will future-proof the system and better capture listening everywhere, on every device. Digitisation and innovation adopted across the radio sector have removed any limitations to listening – radio is now genuinely ubiquitous, and we need a measurement system capable of capturing that,” she said.
“By putting the right technology and methodology in place, we are ensuring that we are able to do justice to the full scale and opportunity of our audience in the eyes of advertisers, now and into the future.”
CRA chair and Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) CEO, Grant Blackley, said with growing audiences across digital devices, the onus was on the radio industry to meet the market with measurement that reflects the modern radio listener.
“After consultation with key industry stakeholders, in recognition of the changing behaviour of our growing digital audiences and the need to accurately capture and report on this increasing consumption, the industry has moved forward with GfK in developing a hybrid measurement system,” he said.
“Australians are increasingly consuming radio through digital platforms. More than 2.7 million people are listening to radio each week through their smartphones . The industry’s investment in a hybrid measurement system will allow advertisers to connect to known, targeted audiences at scale.”
CEO of media buying group Omnicom, Peter Horgan, who is also the chair of the Media Federation Australia (MFA), said the industry would welcome the hybrid system.
“We welcome CRA’s move to evolve radio audience measurement to better reflect listening behaviour. As radio consumption becomes increasingly sophisticated, it makes sense that measurement follows suit. This will allow agencies to make more
informed media planning and buying decisions on behalf of their clients, ultimately improving radio campaign effectiveness,” he said.
GfK also noted its excitement, with managing director across Australia and New Zealand, Dr Morten Boyer, drawing attention to Australia’s place in the radio landscape.
“GfK is excited to partner with CRA to make hybrid radio audience measurement a reality following a rigorous and thorough testing and development period. Australia is one of the strongest radio markets in the world and the first to embrace this exciting approach, both from a methodological and data science perspective.”
CRA’s Warner said the CRA would continue to collaborate with key industry stakeholders throughout the transformation process.