Arbitron issues social media "Do's & Don'ts" memo to help radio avoid distorting ratings

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 1:35pm

In the interest of "protecting the integrity of audience estimates," Arbitron yesterday e-mailed client radio stations a list of "Do's and Don'ts" concerning station communication via social media. And not just on Facebook and Twitter, but also texting, e-mail, and more.

As most radio professional know, Arbitron has strict guidelines regarding messaging that can lead to "ratings distortion," but before now it concerned what was said on-air and in traditional marketing. As the importance of social media has grown, with its ability for one-to-one communication between station staff and listeners, Arbitron is now emphasizing the importance of avoiding ratings bias.

Now, Arbitron reminds clients that "social media comments are subject to the same guidelines as on-air comments. The company instructs radio not to discuss ratings (even ratings success), on social networking sites, as that could prompt diary keepers to reveal themselves.

Arbitron even monitors social media sites daily, both for respondent disclosures and to look for any contact between respondents and stations.

See Arbitron's memo here.

Pandora plans to cover top 25 markets with local sales teams by year-end

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 1:05pm

Pandora VP/Sales Steven Kritzman told NetNewsCheck the webcaster is ending its efforts to have newspapers and TV sales forces represent it to local ad buyers. Instead, Pandora plans to beef up its own local sales teams.

In January, Arbitron filed suit against a Cleveland television station, accusing it of improper and unauthorized use of its data. Part of the Pandora reseller program, Gannett WKYC-TV allegedly distributed media kits that included 2011 PPM data and Arbitron trademarks. Pandora was not named in the lawsuit (more in RAIN here).

Kritzman told NetNews Check, "Nothing really beats having ownership over the training, the narrative and just having sellers that are specifically focused on your product." He says Pandora has recently expanded its sales force in markets like Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Houston, Minneapolis, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

"At the end of the year we’ll be in the top 25 markets across the country with multiple people in each market," plus sales leadership in 27 out of the top 40 markets, he said.

Read more in NetNewsCheck here.

Arbitron says Cleveland TV outlet's use of its data to sell Pandora locally is unauthorized

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 1:30pm

Arbitron is suing a Cleveland television station that's reportedly joint-selling with Pandora, and allegedly improperly using Arbitron data.

Arbitron accuses Gannett WKYC-TV of infringing on its copyright in media kits the station is distributing. The sales kits -- "Bringing Local Internet Radio Advertising to Cleveland!" -- include several months of 2011 PPM data, along with Arbitron trademarks.

In summer of 2011, Pandora and Edison Research began announcing results of studies they said showed Pandora's emergence as a significant competitor to traditional radio in major U.S. radio markets, comparing local Pandora listening to published Arbitron "cume" and AQH measurements of local major-market radio stations. Finally in December, Arbitron issued a paper called "Thoughts on Comparing Audience Estimates," saying comparisons of its PPM measurements and listening measurements based on server logs from "Internet music services" are unreliable. (See more in RAIN here.)

In June of last year Pandora announced its Pandora Local Reseller Program to allow local media companies to bundle its ad inventory into packages for local advertisers (see RAIN coverage here, and Pandora's own announcement here).

As Tom Taylor reports, the media kit says Pandora offers, "No clutter! Pandora serves only ads every 20 minutes in-between songs. Only one ad per screen – 100% share of screen. Audience is guaranteed, not estimated. No wasted impressions! We are the only way to buy Pandora locally, in Northeast Ohio."

Read today's Tom Taylor Now here.

Nielsen's planned integrated media platform may drive ad volume for webcasters

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 1:15pm

Nielsen president of global media products Steve Hasker told Bloomberg that among Nielsen's intentions in acquiring Arbitron is to begin measuring online radio services like Pandora.

Bloomberg writes Nielsen "wants to offer its advertisers a unified system that measures audiences across multiple forms of media, making it easier for them to make ad-buying decisions -- whether on TV, radio or the Web."

StreetInsider credited the news for a Pandora stock price bump after speaking to analyst Rich Tullo. Tullo thinks the webcaster could likely profit from rising ad volume as large media buying agencies adopt this new Nielsen integrated media platform.

Arbitron's history with webcasting, and Pandora in particular, hasn't been entirely smooth. Since the dawn of Internet radio, Arbitron has repeatedly entered, then exited, net radio audience measurement. Pandora last year (with Edison Research, here) began releasing its own listening stats, using Arbitron's common broadcast radio metrics (Pandora is also measured by Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics, using Internet radio's slightly different metrics). Arbitron (more in RAIN here) and many of its broadcast clients (from Inside Radio via NPR Digital Services here) criticized the stats, calling them unreliable and nonsensical.

Arbitron meanwhile has long had ready -- but never released -- a cross-platform radio ratings service (more here), and as recently as its Q3 conference call told shareholders the service "would use online logs to measure Internet radio listenership and include all types of Web radio, from terrestrial stations' streams to services such as Pandora" (more here). Presumably for this service, Arbitron partnered with AdsWizz (here). It's been suspected that pressure from its broadcast radio clients, who likely wouldn't welcome competition from webcasters and broadcasters around the world, has prevented Arbitron from launching the service. 

But it may not be too late for Arbitron to get back into the Internet radio ratings game. Pandodaily's Erin Griffith wrote yesterday, "It’s a market that’s still young enough to be figuring things out. With a new owner and possibly new attitude, Arbitron could be there on the ground floor."

Read Bloomberg here. Read here. Read Pandodaily here. H/T to The Verge here.

Nielsen buying Arbitron, also creating Twitter TV rating. Taylor asks, "How about for radio?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 1:30pm

Nielsen and Twitter have forged a deal to create the "Nielsen Twitter TV ratings" to measure the total audience for social TV activity on the social media platform. Couple that with today's news that Nielsen is buying radio ratings leader Arbitron, and smart folks like Tom Taylor begin to ask, "Can radio be far behind?"

There's no real indication of such a development yet, but it's not hard to imageine that "a new radio morning show could be 'trending,' one of these days," suggests Taylor. Read more from him today here.

Read about Twitter TV ratings at LostRemote here and GigaOm here.

Hubbard's WTOP-FM/D.C. drops ad-insertion for "full simulcast"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

Hubbard Radio D.C. news outlet WTOP-FM has stopped inserting online-only ads into its web streaming, thereby duplicating its on-air programming online.

Senior Regional VP/Market Manager of Hubbard Radio's Washington, D.C. properties, Joel Oxley, explained the move as one to help Arbitron ratings: "Since WTOP is now a simulcast, those listeners can now be added to our Arbitron ratings. For WTOP even a slight move up in ratings can mean a significant rise in revenue." (quote from Inside Radio coverage)

If there are programming differences -- including ads -- between a station's on-air and its stream, Arbitron counts those audiences separately. If the programming is identical, Arbitron can combine the listening. Saga Communications announced a similar move in August (coverage here) for its streaming stations.

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