PPM

Survey indicates Pandora listening not taking away from time with AM/FM

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 1:00pm

Vision Critical's new research indicates Pandora listeners spend more time listening to broadcast radio than non-Pandora listeners. What's more, on average, Pandora listeners' say their time spent with AM/FM radio has held steady over the last two years.

The charts from the research summary show that while non-Pandora users in the U.S. report spending just under 13 hours a week listening to broadcast, the average Pandora user tops 19 hours a week with terrestrial radio -- 50% more than the non-Pandora fan. The second chart shows that even over time, the average Pandora user reports spending slightly more time with AM/FM now than 2 years ago (or at least, is not spending significantly less time with AM/FM).

It's probably not controversial to say the typical Pandora listener is more comfortable with technology than the average person. So, perhaps it's not surprising the survey revealed Pandora listeners as much more likely to listen to AM/FM on digital devices than non-Pandora listeners.

A recent NPD Group study (here) seemed to show Net radio usage is cutting into music listening on more traditional media -- including AM/FM. Note that the Vision Critical study didn't ask about the format of respondents' on-air listening (music, news, talk, sports, etc.).

Pandora listeners in another recent survey (conducted on the webcaster's behalf) strongly favored the service over AM/FM regarding which was more "unique and different," "innovative," "engaging," and "connects me withe the music I love" (study here). But Pandora listeners told Vision Critical AM/FM has the edge in "easy," "convenient," and "helps me feel connected."

Vancouver-based Vision Critical surveyed more than one-thousand U.S. adults for the Canadian Association of Radio Broadcasters, "to better understand the potential impact on Canadian radio tuning in the event that Pandora, or a service like it, is launched in Canada."

See the Vision Critical summary report, "What Pandora Means for Radio," here.

RAIN Analysis: Naturally, we wanted to follow up on this with Vision Critical SVP Jeff Vidler. After all, the results of this study seem counterintuitive in light of Arbitron reports showing radio listening per capita declining -- declines that seem to correspond Pandora's gains.

Vidler suggested three hypotheses:

1. Interest in music is not a "zero sum" game. Flash back 100+ years ago and the consensus was that recorded music would kill live music performance. Then, radio was going to kill the recorded music industry. Then, in-car 8-tracks/cassettes/CDs were going to kill radio. But today, music is bigger than ever. Each new technology and platform simply provides a new way and a new reason for music fans to indulge in music — it’s additive. So it would seem to be for Pandora.

2. The enduring lure of broadcast radio is connection, not music. Pandora listeners, like most other folks, want to feel connected to other people, to what’s going on in their community and elsewhere. Broadcast radio does a great job at that. And, as music fans, they also want to feel connected to the music that other people like. Broadcast radio performs well there too. (The recent success of CHR radio may be the best evidence of this.) So, on this basis, it’s not that surprising that they might be above-average listeners to broadcast radio.

3. Arbitron isn’t capturing the full gamut of online AM/FM tuning. Do PPM meter-keepers, who listen through their headphones on their PC at work, or on the app on their smartphone, always remember to plug in their headphone insert? The study indicates that Pandora listeners are way above-average in listening to AM/FM on digital platforms, so it’s possible that Arbitron may not be capturing all their listening."

All three hypotheses make sense. The third is particularly interesting -- maybe apparent losses in per-capita AM/FM listening in recent years are really just an artifact of increases in headphone-based listening! -- KH

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

Radio simulcasts streams slowly breaking into PPM ratings

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:35pm

Paragon Media's Larry Johnson blogged this week about Internet streams of broadcast radio stations increasingly appearing in Arbitron PPM ratings.

To be listed in the PPM ratings report, a  "station or combo must have received at least one quarter-hour of listening credit from at least one In-Tab panelist and a Metro Cume rating of 0.495 or greater."

It's that second part, the cume rating, that's the greatest challenge for Internet streams being listed, he says. Paragon did an analysis of October ratings in four PPM markets, and found 18 station streams with enough listening to register in PPM. "However, only 22% of those listed stations posted 6+ Shares in October 2011 (Persons 6+ Monday-Sunday 6a-Midnight)." Obviously, any stream that made it in the listing had some listening. But the measurements are subject to rounding error, and those small audiences rounded down to zero.

"It would be great if all Internet, time-shifted archives/podcasts, mobile, and satellite radio were coded and accessible in the local market reports so we could get a comprehensive view of the audio listening landscape," Johnson wrote. "Now that the listing hurdle has been cleared, look for your station’s Internet stream to be an even more important part of your ratings profile."

Read the Paragon Media blog here.

Inside Radio: Arbitron plans to eventually use PPM to measure web radio

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 12:55pm

ArbitronArbitron hopes to launch a Total Audience Measurement service next year, which will include web radio listening via server-side data (more RAIN coverage here and here).

Today Inside Radio reports that "server-side data will only be a short-term scenario, necessitated by limitations PPM panels run into when measuring small slivers of how people consume content."

“As digital consumption increases, the panel that we have in place becomes a more effective tool in measuring [streaming],” said Arbitron EVP/COO Sean Creamer.

You can read more by subscribing to Inside Radio here.

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