Arbitron offers people meters for digital radio trials

Arbitron has offered to work with Australia’s Digital Radio trials to test the viability of radio people meters measuring digital radio listening in this country.

On the eve of a visit to Australia, Arbitron’s Jay Guyther spoke to radioinfo about the latest developments in radio people meters.

radioinfo: What are you offering to digital radio trials in this country?

Guyther: Digital radio broadcasters need to know who is listening and on what platform. Our system embeds a signal in the radio broadcast that distinguishes the signal path so that broadcasters have information on whether listeners were hearing their broadcast on a digital radio, a tv, internet or hearing it in analog on a conventional radio.

We have offered some encoders to CRA for their Sydney trial, which they are keen to experiment with. We have made the same offer to the Melbourne trial and expect interest from them too.

radioinfo: You are doing something new like that in The UK aren’t you?

Guyther: Yes. We’re working with Rajar through our British partner Taylor-Nelson on a current trial. They have asked us to do some different things from what we do in America. It may be something that Australians would be interested in too.

In the States and other countries we embed the signal in the broadcast, which is picked up by our pager-like meter, stored and downloaded each night via the phone line when the meter is docked over night.

In Britain they wanted to achieve two different things – they wanted to closely replicate their current weekly data reporting format and they wanted a cheaper methodology, so they didn’t need daily downloads.

So we have increased the memory in the unit and improved our recharger facilities so that the unit can last for a week before being downloaded. It has allowed us to develop an approach which may work for them. It is a compromise – you lose the valuable daily feedback, but you gain other advantages. We are anxious to learn about these options and the UK survey will go for a full quarter and will have 1000 participants, so we will learn a lot.

radioinfo: You have probably heard about the recent developments with Sport 927 and 2KY here in Australia. Will this benefit non-standard formats like sport?

Guyther: I’ve been following that and I spoke to Noel Crowe when I was there a while ago – it sounded like he had a legitimate argument. Stations that have a specialist format might not easily get picked up by the diary format, but they can be more accurately measured by electronic measurement.

In the UK the TalkSport station commissioned a ‘radiocontrol’ electronic survey a while ago and the result were dramatically different for them. In fact TalkSport has filed a law suit about it in the last week or so.

radioinfo: When do you arrive and what are you doing here in Australia?

Guyther: I am making a presentation at the ASTRA conference and will be meeting with Oztam. I’ll also update Commercial Radio Australia on the latest meter developments in various countries.