Thursday, July 02, 2009

And, Then, They Came For Us

As World War II era Pastor Martin Niemöller's prescient quote implies, it's human nature for a majority group which feels unaffected by even extremely-egregious unfairness to ignore the concerns of their neighbors until it comes knocking.

Thus, since in most PPM-rated markets the country format has been doing pretty well, it has been tempting to ignore the complaints from minority radio owners and simply bask in the glow of our format's huge cumes and share growth.

At May's BCAB convention, for example, BBM CEO Jim McCleod noted in pre-currency tests of PPM in Vancouver it appeared country listening will go from a seven share of diary tuning to potentially more than a nine.

Now, one month before fast-growing and increasingly-ethnic San Diego goes currency with PPM, it has been concerning to watch as ARB appears in rumored pre-currency data to be having trouble locating the same percentage of core country radio listeners for the PPM panel as they had in the diary sample.

Unless something changes fast, country's audience share in San Diego could dip from the sevens to the fives.

Questions: are the population estimates which drive sample proportionality, now nine years away from the last census, accurate? Or, will they reflect a major change in the estimates when the 2010 census rolls into the ARB data in two years? What will that say about today's shares? Will panel management over the next few weeks pick up more country ultra core which seems to be missing in the pre-currency data we've seen thus far? What impact will that have on San Diego country radio owners Lincoln Financial Media and Clear Channel revenue projections as they budget for 2010 right now?

Suddenly, what seemed to be the worries of others have come to the country format's door in at least this one market where non-ethnic households have become a minority group.

When former ARB SVP/Ratings Services Jay Guyther blogs from his new post at ROI Media Solutions that this same issue has been on the back burner for 15 years at Arbitron and says "...leave the FCC, Attorneys General, Congress, MRC, etc. out of it. Increase the panel sizes to a sufficient size and most of the other problems, in my opinion, will go away..." it is long past time for action to replace homeostasis.

1 comment:

Richard Harker said...

PPM is a game-changer in many respects. One of the least discussed aspects of this is radio’s loss of history. We have forty years of diary-based listenership data that we are essentially throwing away in this transition. The transition is like starting over. You might as well throw away those diary-based books, because all the numbers that preceeded your first PPM book are meaningless. From this day forward, when you read about ‘trends’ in listenership, be very skeptical. We have given up our history.