Commercial Radio trials electronic alternative to diaries

It’s been mooted for decades, but finally Commercial Radio Australia has given the strongest indication yet that it will move into the digital age and embrace electronic data collection as a way of measuring audience.

The Chair of the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) Henry Tajer thought it was about time, saying, “ We are pleased that the radio industry is exploring additional data collection methods that will help to bring radio measurement into the 21st century. MFA looks forward to working with the industry over the next few months to test and progress additional forms of digital measurement.”

As a result of recommendations put forward by the radio industry’s Research Committee, trials of online data collection for radio ratings will commence soon, closely followed by the introduction of a world-first application for tablets and mobile phones, which will allow people to input their listening habits via these devices.

CRA CEO Joan Warner said, “Research company, Ipsos, will commence a trial of online data collection in March which will be a supplementary measure to the existing diary system, This will be followed by a world first development of an which will allow people to fill in ratings information on tablet devices and mobile phones, which the industry believes will be a unique step forward and one that we are sure will be welcomed by the advertising industry.

“Ipsos has experience with the development of the online diary in the UK, which has reported good completion rates of around 70%. The trial will enable the industry to test whether online will provide a good supplementary way of collecting data and is a sign of the industry’s keenness to adopt new technology for the ratings, where appropriate,” Ms Warner said.

Andrew Green, Global Chief Marketing Officer for Ipsos Media said, “The digital revolution has changed the market research business just as it has the media business. Many people – especially the young – are more comfortable communicating with us on-line rather than via traditional pen and paper methods. So it is important that we start testing newer methods of data collection. In the UK, where measurement body RAJAR has been running an on-line diary as part of their radio audience measurement system for the past six months, it has been found to be a very useful method for attracting respondents of all ages to tell us about their radio listening.”

Ms Warner said the results of the trial will be evaluated across a number of areas including response rates, platform of listening, place of listening and variance in completion rate by gender and age, to ensure it is delivering accurate information.

“A trial of online data collection was conducted in the Australian market in 2007 but response rates were very low. The industry believes the use of technology has significantly increased since then and consumers may now be more than willing to record their listening habits online, but we will wait and see.”

Ms Warner said the industry would continue to monitor developments with electronic devices around the world to ensure the Australian system of collecting radio ratings remained the best in the world.

“At this stage, no other electronic device has proved to be reliable enough in terms of data collection to warrant further testing. Paper diaries remain the basis of radio audience measurement around the world. However the industry is committed to investigating any new devices that are feasible, both in terms of cost and effectiveness.”

The current tender for the radio ratings, held by Neilsen, expires at the end of next year. Tenders will be called later this year for 2014, with proposals for online and mobile applications to supplement the paper diaries, to be part of the process.