Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Canary Has A Name

The canary in radio ratings' coal mine's name is Sean Hannity.
In a cover story interview this week, the syndicated talker tells Radio Ink "one of the problems with radio in general, and this impacts all formats, is that in the last 10 years, our lives, in terms of technology, have changed dramatically. Radio needs to wake up to this fact. It’s the single biggest threat to the radio business today — that is, the measurement system is flawed in a dramatic way."

Hannity believes he has millions of digital listeners he is not able to get credit for.  "For example, in New York, if you’re listening to The Sean Hannity Radio Show on the WOR website, even if you have a Portable People Meter, I can’t get credit for that. We know that WABC, at times, had well over 1.4 million people listening online. If we can’t get credit for that, then all the data that’s being put out there is just inaccurate. Then you add to that those people who listen to me on satellite. That’s unmeasured. If people listen on my website, that’s not measured. I’m a big proponent of iHeart-Radio, but that’s also unmeasured. What we have is a situation where, especially in big cities, it’s almost impossible to get an AM signal, and for the people listening to my show, and they are, there is no way that we can get credit."  Hannity says. he knows for a fact he has millions of online listeners. "I have never seen it below a couple of million people. Ever. This is not a small issue. This is a massive issue."

Sean was an early believer and user of PPM and spoke in 2007 to the annual consultants' fly-in about how he was using the Media Monitors and custom audience flow reports tracking of his show to hone content, so I can testify that he's an extremelty knowledgeable voice on the subject who has been digging deep into PPM data from the beginning.

Also, the responses to his views on Radio Ink's website are generally chirping in agreement:

The current reporting method stations are using for on-line listening is difficult to work with or believe at best. This problem requires a good solution from
- Dick Kalt

I say again -- add PPM encoder to your internet streams. This is not shocking revelation.  Parsing streaming server logs is also a trivial matter, albeit you don't get the same demographic data as PPM.
- Joe Cassara

This is an "Elephant in the room" issue for radio. What exactly is being done about it? Nothing yet.
- Iconoclast

For the first time in my life, Hannity and I agree on something. To the earlier comment, server logs are flawed too and subject to manipulation. - Fred Lundgren

I have written about this shortcoming, citing what Canada's BBM is doing for genuine cross-media measurement.  When ARB was radio and Nielsen was TV, using server logs was the only option open to Arbitron.

Now that Nielsen measures both TV and radio with PPM, they can do much better than 6%, as Sean Hannity clearly understands.


Anonymous said...

(1) While the ratings system may be flawed, which I agree, it is the system we have and we must play by those rules and exploit those rules. Those that "understand" the game's rules win, regardless of digital's impact. The report card is still the Nielsen.

(2) True, Sean may have large numbers of listeners online. So why isn't the stream PPM encoded? That's a question for his employer.

Mark Ramsey said...

Is it just me, or is it some kind of shame that an audience of 1.4 million people (according to Sean) evidently can’t be monetized? How can it possibly be that a broadcaster can’t sell an audience of more than a million people where messages can presumably be tailored to those people based on their geography and, potentially, their age and gender?

As for the folks listening to Hannity on satellite, did he provide that show to SiriusXM for free? Or is SiriusXM paying for it? In other words, has the show been effectively monetized for that audience already irrespective of the size of the audience? Is Sean looking to have the show monetized twice for the same audience?

Of course, listeners to Hannity’s show online are measured. Ditto for his website. Ditto for listening on iHeartRadio. And they’re measured with infinitely more precision and accuracy than the scattershot technology of stray beepers parachuted into households that thinly dot every PPM market and are heavily bribed to sport them.

It seems to me that Hannity should complain less about the fact that Nielsen doesn’t roll up his number and complain more about the fact that the numbers he references, as large as he claims them to be, aren’t being sold.