Radio's denial of Pandora might end up costing them both when ad dollars "move on"

Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 1:25pm

Broadcast radio's squabbling over Pandora's attempts to assert itself as a major player for radio ad dollars has made it on to the pages of The Wall Street Journal. And one expert told the paper this split may end up costing both Pandora and traditional radio in the long run.

You'll recall (here) Arbitron this week issued a statement -- apparently at the behest of its broadcast radio customers -- critical of listening estimates for Internet radio services based on server log data, self-reported listener demographic info, and without a "detailed description of methodology" (like Arbitron's). Market research firm Edison Research has recently been issuing estimates of Pandora's listening with metrics identical to traditional broadcast radio studies (more here). Pandora founder Tim Westergren called Arbitron's statement part of a "concerted effort" to keep Pandora out of the radio ad market as the online radio medium grows into real competition for radio.

"The broadcast industry does not want the world to know about us, basically."

This week's Arbitron statement came as the company is trying to convince its broadcaster clients to support its upcoming Total Audience Measurement product (more here), designed to measure and consolidate on-air, online, and satellite listening.

Late yesterday came news that Clear Channel-owned online ad-sales firm Katz360 -- like Arbitron, a company the counts broadcast radio groups as its main clients -- dropped Pandora from their sales network (see today's top story). (Pandora is far-and-away the most-listened-to webcaster online, dwarfing the online audiences of broadcasters like Clear Channel, CBS Radio, and Cumulus.)

Marketers are making it clear, however, they want a more "all-in-one," cross-platform ratings system to better target their ad messages (see the second-half of this recent RAIN story). Matt Feinberg, a former radio ad-buyer, told the Journal, "There are so many media vehicles out there for consideration the harder you make it for an advertiser or agency to make a decision, the quicker they will move on."

Wall Street Journal subscribers can read their coverage here.

Broadcaster clients demand Katz360 focus on "their digital assets"

Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 1:25pm

Pandora dropped by Katz360Katz360, the Clear Channel-owned online ad sales network, has dropped Pandora as a client. Katz360 will no longer sell ads for the webcaster after two years of doing so (find our coverage from August 2009 here). The ad rep firm will transfer its accounts to Pandora's in-house sales team over the next 30 days.

As for why Katz360 dropped Pandora, Katz Radio Group EVP Mary Beth Garber -- an outspoken critic of Pandora -- says it become "too cumbersome to try to fit [Pandora's] completely different requirements into the [sales] packages."

Katz360 also represents pureplay web radio services like AccuRadio (which is run by the same folks who bring you RAIN) and Digitally Imported.

Katz360 president Brian Benedik reportedly told Pandora chief revenue officer John Trimble via email: "Our core Katz Media Group broadcaster clients have demanded that we focus our Katz360 online audio efforts towards their digital assets moving forward."

Katz360"This is hardly a massive blow to Pandora," argues Jennifer Lane in Audio4Cast (Lane founded Net Radio Sales, which was acquired by Katz in 2007). "I am sure that both [Katz360 competitors] Triton [Digital] and TargetSpot will be eager to add them as clients.

"It is a blow to Internet radio as I see it – Clear Channel and Katz have declared war and refused to work together with Pandora to develop the Internet radio marketplace."

The move comes just days after Arbitron issued a statement advising against comparing its own survey-based PPM audience estimates to those of "Internet music services" based on server logs (RAIN coverage here). Many observers argued the statement was in response to Pandora's audience stats released recently (RAIN coverage here).

You can find Jennifer Lane's coverage in Audio4Cast here and more from Inside Radio by subscribing to their daily newsletter here.

Server log data can't always tell the whole story, says Arbitron

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 11:35am

Yesterday afternoon Arbitron issued a statement advising against comparing its own survey-based PPM audience estimates to those of "Internet music services" based on server logs.

"Arbitron urges those reviewing audience estimates from Internet music services not to make direct comparisons to Arbitron audience estimates in any market," they wrote.

The paper from Arbitron came just hours after industry news sources like Inside Radio (as well as this publication here) quoted broadcast radio executives expressing trepidation over Arbitron's own upcoming Total Audience Measurement service -- a new ratings service designed to measure listening across AM/FM, satellite, and Internet platforms (latest here). It also came on the same day Arbitron competitor Triton Digital announced its new program for local market ratings for webcasters (here). 

But Arbitron's afternoon missive seems to actually be in response to recent PR from leading webcaster Pandora and market research firm Edison Research. In summer Edison began announcing results of studies it said indicated that Pandora had become a significant competitor to traditional radio in major U.S. radio markets. Last week Edison released its latest data (here), indicating not only that Pandora now had at least a 1.0 AQH rating 18-34 in nearly all the top ten markets, but for the first time showing cume ratings. As Tom Taylor writes in Radio-Info, "suddenly, the metrics are starting to look very 'radio'-like." [Indeed, Arbitron insists, "Highlighting the differences between estimates, even those with the same names and descriptors, is part of our obligation to the industries we serve."]

In its statement, titled Thoughts on Comparing Audience Estimates (it's a .pdf file, here), Arbitron (1) insists that audience estimates of broadcast listening (many people listening to the same thing at the same time) can't reliably be put side-by-side with estimates of webcast listening, where each listener gets his own stream.

Arbitron also advises (2) against using webcast audience estimates that don't include explicitly-cited limitations and "detailed description of methodology" for making their estimates. Next, (3) with "many Internet music channels... there appears to be no way of confirming if anyone is on the other end throughout the session." And, (4) those Internet services can't always verify whether "self-reported registration data are reliable and that users do not have multiple accounts."

Read a more point-by-point summary of the Arbitron paper from Tom Taylor in Radio-Info here

Consultant Mark Ramsey defends the veracity of server-side measurement and takes apart Arbitron's arguments here.

"Perhaps we should be bringing Arbitron up to date," he wrote, "rather than blowing dust onto metrics which are based on every user with 100% accuracy, not a smattering of sampled users with sketchy accuracy."

RAIN Analysis: The timing of this statement from Arbitron is pretty awkward, it would seem. Arbitron needs to walk a pretty fine line here. On the one hand, it's attempting to discredit audience estimates based on the data culled from servers about "when" and "how much" those servers send out into the ether. Yet, it needs to quell a brewing client rebellion among broadcasters over its own Total Audience Measurement service -- a service that will reportedly estimate listening based partially on server log data. Stay tuned. -- PM

Broadcast execs fear direct comparison with pureplays, but agencies clamoring for such a service

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 11:00am

ArbitronInside Radio reported earlier in December that some broadcasters feared Arbitron's coming all-in-one measurement service would "siphon off radio ad dollars" to pureplay online radio sites like Pandora (RAIN coverage here).

Now more broadcast radio executives are speaking out against an "apples-to-apples comparison" between pureplay webcasters and AM/FM radio, but agencies are reportedly clamoring for such a service.

Cumlus Media COO John Dickey worries Arbitron’s coming service will give Pandora Arbitron's "good housekeeping stamp of approval." Hubbard Radio EVP/COO Drew Horowitz reportedly said: "Taking a totally different business model and saying it’s the same as our model would be a very frightening approach." 

Arbitron EVP/COO Sean Creamer acknowledged broadcasters' fears, stating that “there is a level of concern on the part of over-the-air broadcasters about this increasing the threat to their pot of money from the pureplays and how they will fit into the service offerings.”

Meanwhile, "both buyers and sellers say universal audio measurement is needed to drive more dollars into the streaming audio marketplace," reports Inside Radio.

Inside Radio

Fraser's Vivian Silverman says an all-in-one ratings platform would help "explain to a client in simple terms how they work together or how one might be more efficient for them in one of their buys." Former TargetSpot chief revenue officer Andy Lipset argued "It would be a game-changer in how media buyers and planners look at streaming."

“Not having [a cross-platform measurement] will hold us back from embracing some of the steaming elements on any large scale," said Maribeth Papuga, Mediavest EVP and director of local investment and activation.

But Inside Radio reports that broadcasters' fears may delay Arbitron's Total Audience Measurement service from launching, as it relies on server-side log files from broadcasters.

"We’d be hard pressed to provide" Arbitron with the necessary data for Total Audience Measurement, Dickey reportedly said. "We’re very skeptical."

Arbitron's Total Audience Measurement service would combine radio's over-the-air, web and mobile listening, with the addition of listening from pureplay webcasters (RAIN coverage here and here). It is unclear when the service will launch; Arbitron has previously stated the service will launch in 2012, but now reportedly says it "isn’t able to say whether its web ratings will go live in 2012."

Currently, the sole ratings service for the U.S. Internet radio industry is Triton Digital Media’s Webcast Metrics (formerly known as Ando Media).

You can subscribe to Inside Radio here.

Arbitron plans to issue regular national and large-market local reports for combined on-air, online, satellite listening

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 11:50am

Arbitron this week revealed some of the general structure of their upcoming integrated on-air and online listening measurement service.  Inside Radio yesterday relayed some of those points, announced at the 2011 Arbitron Client Conference and Jacobs Media Summit, which began Tuesday in Baltimore. What we haven't learned yet is exactly when the service will roll out.
Arbitron / Jacobs
For at least a year, Arbitron has been gradually revealing its plans to offer radio a "Total Audience Measurement" -- a consolidated report of radio on-air and online listening, alongside that of "pureplay" Internet-only radio and satellite radio, using a common set of metrics. 

According to Inside Radio, Arbitron plans to eventually issue sets of both local and national ratings. The national service will consist of two separate reports: the first for participating terrestrial broadcast, satellite radio, and online simulcast streams; the second for ad-supported "destination audio websites" like Pandora’s free service, Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio, CBS Radio’s,  and on-demand service Spotify's free service. Participating stations and services will supply Arbitron with server log files (for online listening measurements), which Arbitron will combine with PPM and diary estimates in a bi-annual national report.

The new local reports, which will come out monthly, will cover listening to the same services as the national reports, but only in PPM markets.

Both reports will initially provide only 12+ total week ratings, with plans to introduce discrete demographics, unduplicated cume date, etc. later.

Last week Inside Radio reported (our coverage is here) that some broadcasters weren't ready to supply Arbitron with server data. Apparently, some broadcasters don't support Arbitron's Total Audience Measurement service, for fear of Internet radio pureplay services "siphon(ing) off radio ad dollars."

Subscribe to Inside Radio here.

Inside Radio: Arbitron's coming service could help pureplay webcasters claim more ad dollars, broadcasters worry

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 12:25pm

Ad revenuesSome broadcasters are worried Arbitron's coming Total Audience Measurement service will help Internet radio pureplay services "siphon off radio ad dollars," Inside Radio reports. That service will measure both over-the-air and Internet radio listening, providing an "apples-to-apples comparison" for advertisers.

"Many buyers today complain that it’s difficult to buy online audio ads," writes Inside Radio, "because the metrics are much different than what’s used by radio stations for on-air spot sales." Arbitron's new service aims to remedy that problem by creating one metric for online and AM/FM listening (RAIN coverage here and here). 

But that reportedly makes some broadcasters anxious that advertisers will spend more money on pureplay webcasters and less on broadcast radio. Slacker has already confirmed that they've had discussions with Arbitron (more here).

Because Arbitron's new service relies on participation from broadcasters, their fears could apparently delay the ratings platform's launch. The company previously said they hoped to roll-out the new ratings platform next year, but now Inside Radio writes that Arbitron "isn’t able to say whether its web ratings will go live in 2012."

ArbitronCOO Sean Creamer tells Inside Radio that the Total Audience Measurement service "will be ready when our customers are ready to embrace it."

Currently, the sole ratings service for the U.S. Internet radio industry is Triton Digital Media’s Webcast Metrics (formerly known as Ando Media).

You can find more coverage from Inside Radio by subscribing to their daily newsletters here.

Syndicate content