It is very smart of Arbitron to address social media’s impact on radio ratings clearly, as they have in the policy brief linked above. It’s beneficial for all broadcasters and web publishers to understand Arbitron’s view on ratings distortion and the importance of social media’s ability to engage and influence an audience. It’s comforting to know that Arbitron is monitoring websites and radio station social media pages to insure that companies aren’t using social media to boost their terrestrial radio audience delivery by engaging with respondents.
Of course, this point becomes a bit murky because internet radio providers aren’t really addressed and are harder to regulate at this point. These companies are hustling for an online listening session, just everyone else.
When a true multi-platform audience measurement delivery system is in place for media and entertainment providers to track total audience delivery, the best practices will probably be updated again.
What a week for Radio. The can of worms, in this case the debate on Radio audience measurement, has been decisively opened by both sides. The subject has been looming in the background for a couple years now. Internet Radio has done a good job of maneuvering. They have been stirring the pot by reporting huge numbers through Edison Research and politely requesting to be measured just like all other radio stations but now that the subject has been lured out into the open, the game will change. Internet Radio’s tactic has been to do a little teasing and name calling and get big Radio mad enough to make definitive statements saying that Arbitron’s current methodology doesn’t work for Internet Radio and that Internet Radio’s actual server performance reports are questionable. Internet radio should be celebrating like crazy as they’ve accomplished their short term mission. Now the real fun begins as everyone weighs in on the subject. Internet Radio is pie-eyed when looking at Radio’s annual revenue. We’ll just have to see what the true value of the questions that stem from the debate will be in the long run.
In related news, an anonymous, unidentifiable source at a top Internet Radio operation overheard someone in management murmur “It’s Moet time” when the release went out.
This doesn’t surprise me much. There is a massive industry built around Arbitron’s audience measurement and changing that is daunting for all traditional Radio operators.
From what I understand, there is a similar situation going on between Nielsen, Broadcast television and Cable. Cable operators, like Pure-Play Internet radio stations, want equal audience measurement, but Nielsen’s bond to Broadcast television looks an awful like Arbitron’s bond with Radio.