Mark Neely, regional director, Asia Pacific, Nielsen Media Research, steers the Radio Client Services Team in the region and has worked closely with research data for more than 25 years, both as a broadcast client using audience research data for sales and marketing and as a supplier of research data. He has been heavily involved in the introduction of Nielsen’s radio ratings services in China, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam and now in the new service, RAM (Radio Audience Measurement), to be introduced in India.
Neely speaks to Mint about trends in radio listenership and audience measurement and the merits of their global Diary system. Edited excerpts:
What are the broad trends in radio listenership across markets?
What has been observed is that people in developedmarkets spend more time listening to radio. Radio reaches at least 90% of the population. In most developed countries, peak hours for radio are breakfast time (5.30-9am) and drive time.
(Radio channels in) the US claim that a major part of the listenership happens out of home. In Australia, there’s a 50:50 split between radio listenership at home and out of home. While listenership at home is 50%, car listenership is 25%, at work it’s 23%, and 2% is elsewhere.
The time band where there’s least listenership in Australia is the late evening time band. But, those who tune in during this time band listen more—(the) time spent is more.
In Indonesia, much of the radio listenership is recorded on weekends as opposed to weekdays. In China and Indonesia, much of the radio listenership happens in public places. In China, during a week, on an average, 11 hours are spent listening to radio. In Malaysia, it is 24 hours per week. In Australia, on an average, it is 21 hours per week.
What restrictions does radio, as a medium, face?
There are issues such as controls over advertising and content. In China, pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to advertise for fixed periods on radio. In Australia, you cannot advertise for cigarettes. In places like China and Malaysia, the government can give you directions to carry out their broadcasts, and you would have to do it. Restriction on the broadcast of news is there in India. Then, there are ownership restrictions: One company cannot run two radio stations.
Which radio audience measurement method will suit India better—Diary or Day After Recall?
Day After Recall (DAR) gives you a quick turnaround of what’s happening in the marketplace. If you get to the sample overnight via phone, you can get your results the very next day. But, recall doesn’t give you an accurate picture about the length of listening.
So, if I say I listened to station A or B from 6-9pm, the executive would prompt me as to when I began and when I finished. They would try functioning like a diary, but the problem is that the respondent is not pre-warned. He may not be able to remember all the details. The strongest point about a Diary system is that the respondents are pre-warned. People record on a regular basis what they are listening to for the next seven days. Unlike DAR, I wouldn’t call you up and ask what you’ve been listening to in the past 24 hours.
We see our journey in India as a road to ultimate electronic delivery. The Indian Listenership Track, conducted by the Media Research Users Council (MRUC), provided a reasonable estimate of listenership levels when radio was at a state of infancy in India. Judging from the noises in the market, the service doesn’t measure up to the demands. Diary is the next logical step (Tam Media has set up the RAM service to measure audiences using the Diary method in India).
Most countries are following the Diary method in measuring listenership. Stations want more than what recall can provide. The next step after Diary measurement is electronic measurement.
What’s happening globally in terms of electronic radio audience measurement? When will India move to electronic metering?
Electronic devices (for RAM) are currently being tested in various parts of the world. The problem with most electronic gadgets is that they are based on devices that may not be of any use, such as pagers or watches.
An example is Arbitron Inc., a well-known company in USA and Canada, which has a pager device (PPM-personal people meter). It works by inserting a code into the broadcast transmission at the radio station. It would naturally require the broadcaster’s consent. The problem with the watch (developed by the Swiss Broadcasting Co.) is that it has to be worn at all times.
We are working with a US company for a certain kind of software which, when loaded on the mobile phone, picks up a sample every 30 seconds. Then, you can monitor every station for the exact sound match. You could have live ratings. You could also do TV, ultimately.
We are experimenting with this technology in other parts of the world, and would test it in India by end-2008. India will also have the advantage, then, of comparing Diary versus Electronic results. Unlike what many people claim, we are not just going to sit with Diaries.
Mumbai-based MRUC is testing the waters in electronic measurement for radio. Rather than using an international format, they are supposed to be developing an electronic metering device for India. Your comments.
Well, you are free to choose. A lot of work has gone into developing these technologies abroad. If you think about the watch meter, it was first developed in 1992. The PPM was also born in the early 1990s and it’s still being tested out. So if MRUC says, ‘We will develop a device for India’, I’ll be the first one to say: ‘Let’s just wait and watch.’