Audience measurement measures how many people are in an audience within a given market. Radio Audience measurement specifically relates to radio listenership. Traditionally this has been limited to listeners to traditional broadcast radio stations. In the future a broader scope is being considered in many markets covering other audio based media such as music streaming services.
Radio Audience Measurement is the trading currency buying and selling commercial radio airtime. It is also used by broadcasters for governance and to plan programming and editorial.
The "radio audience" definition varies by market, but a typical definition is that to be a listener to a specific station, said individual should have been listening for a set period of time (often 5 minutes) within a given quarter hour segment. This person is then said to be a listener throughout this segment which contributes to the overall listening levels for this station both in terms of Weekly Reach and Time Spent Listening.
A number of different methodologies exist to provide radio measurement solutions:
- Day After Recall: Day after recall approaches typically involve a telephone call to a survey sample to understand what radio stations were tuned the previous day, both in terms of which stations were tuned and at what time of day. While telephone interviewing is the most common approach, face-to-face interviewing has also been used in some instances.
- Listening Diaries: Listening diaries are typically provided for a seven-day period in advance and survey respondents are asked to keep a note of their listening throughout this period. In this way, such a methodology can be considered as a form of pre-recall, with respect to the fact that respondents are expected to note their listening patterns throughout the week. In some instances, respondents will complete the diary as it happens, whereas in others they will complete later in the day or on a later day. The fact that they were asked to undertake the process in advance can aid their recollection in this respect.
- Electronic Measurement: Electronic measurement solutions have been in use since the late 1990s, gaining some further ground in the early 2000's, but at the point of writing (2016) are used in a relatively small number of markets (approximately 10-15).
The fundamental difference between electronic solutions and recall based approaches such as both Day after recall and the Listening Diary, is that the latter are based on memory to some extent where electronic solutions aim to meter the individual and "passively" detect the content to which they are exposed.
The advantage of electronic measurement is that the listener doesn't need to know what they are listening or the precise details as to when.
Common devices used for electronic measurement are built around devices which are either carried as third party devices or can be managed within existing consumer devices (such as the MediaCell Personal Meter). Examples include:
- MediaCell Personal Meter – software uploaded onto respondents' own smartphones turn their phones into passive listening devices which measure radio and other audio exposure
- Pager meters – such as the MediaMetrie Rate on Air meter, Nielsen Audio PPM or GfK Eurisko Meter, these are third party devices which the respondents carry specifically for the sole purpose of capturing their audio exposure
- Wristwatch meter - GfK uses a special wristwatch which when worn by respondents detects their audio exposure
For further reading:
Green, Andrew (2010). From Primetime to My Time: Audience Measurement in the Digital Age, Chapter 4