Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Gloves are Off: Arbitron vs. Nielsen: A Candid Conversation on Rates and Ratings

All it takes is a fast look at the Country Radio Seminar-41 agenda for Friday, February 26 (2010) at 11:00 am to see that CRS attendees will face a very difficult session choice as agenda committee chair John Paul and his team has reserved the time opposite the session I am organizing on the competition between Arbitron and Nielsen for a “hot topic” to yet be announced.

Pity the poor agenda committee member whose task it is to arrange THAT session, since our panel opposite it is going to be very “hot” in its own right. (Not that my panelists, my session moderator and I are competitive or anything!)

In one corner of the "verbal boxing arena" will be the CEO of Arbitron, Michael Skarzynski and in the opposite corner is Lorraine Hadfield, Nielsen Media Research's managing director for North America.

Jess Hanson, Senior Vice President of Research for Clear Channel Radio will be refereeing the “fight” and will make sure that the first session ever for the two ratings giants to talk face to face at a broadcast convention will shed much more light than heat on the many questions and issues raised by the new competition in at least 51 markets for radio ratings leadership and perhaps new areas in the coming year.

Hanson has been intimately involved in evaluation of all types of radio audience research for many years and will make sure that we talk sample sizes, cell phone only homes, roster diaries, metered radio measurement and also allow time for you to ask the two executives your questions as well.

Both companies do constant research on how listeners use radio.

The partially Nielsen-funded Center For Research Excellence just released a unique study where researchers observed audio media usage in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Detroit, adding up to 752 “observed days” from the Spring and Fall of 2008. The unweighted data shows that broadcast radio’s daily reach is by far the largest of all audio media, at 79.1%.

Of course, Arbitron also provides monthly analyses of radio usage as measured by its Portlable People Meter (PPM) and funds otheir tracking studies as well, such as the latest (October 2009) “Infinate Dial” update which reports, among many other findings that about 42 million Americans aged 12+ listened to online radio in the past week and about 69 million Americans viewed online video in the past week. What’s more, about three in 10 Americans own an Apple iPod or iPhone.

We'll find out what other trends in radio usage they are seeing.

You want to learn about the hottest topics and the latest information on our industry? You’ll want to be in Nashville February 24-26 for the 41st annual Country Radio Seminar. The longer you wait, the more expensive registration becomes.

And, as a member of the agenda committee in charge of the ARB vs Nielsen panel, I can promise you an informative, interesting, engaging session should you decide to come in the door where the gloves come off between the two largest companies who are competing for radio’s research budgets in 2010..

If you choose to go into any other meeting room door at that time, I promise that you're going to be missing something which everyone will be talking about.

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