Researching radio’s online audiences

Listeners have a continuing love affair with their favourite radio station, as shown by the attitudinal research now being conducted by GfK, but what of the audience’s relationship with radio station websites?
In today’s multiple device environment there is plenty of evidence to show that audiences also want to engage with their favourite radio brands online as well as on air. CRA emphasised this in a campaign a few years ago themed ‘Radio and Online just click.’
All radio brands are now collecting data about audience interactions on their websites. SCA and ARN regularly release their figures, as seen by the reports here on radioinfo. NovaEntertainment has launched NovaTV to gather more eyeballs as well as ears. Everyone is trying to drive traffic back to their websites via social media and engage with existing and new audiences on third party platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud.
Statistics abound to show how successful each business is at achieving those goals, but are those stats comparable?

Even the words used to describe the measurement are ambiguous. Is it measurement of digital statistics? Is so, does this also include digital radio? Or should the the word digital be dropped and the terminology be called ‘online statistics,’ ‘online ratings,’ ‘social media engagement,’ ‘online engagement’ or something else?
Radio industry players are trying to come to grips with these question so that they can present a unified approach to advertisers and audiences when making their figures public.
But there are more sticky questions to be sorted out before a final solution can be found.
Which figures to measure?
Should all of a radio network’s websites be grouped together under company banners such as or
What about brand recognition? Perhaps stations with the same brands should have their stats combined. This could work well for Nova, because it has a single portal at that channels all traffic through a front page, but the Today network can’t do the same thing because its brands have different names, such as Fox, B105, etc. The online Mix brand can’t be aggregated because Mix stations are owned by ARN, except for Mix Perth, which is owned by Austereo, let alone the new issue created by the rebranding of KIIS in Sydney.
And what of the ABC? If all the ABC’s traffic was aggregated, it would probably dwarf the other brands, although this would not be an issue for commercial players because advertisers can’t place ads on the ABC. But they can on Fairfax Media sites. Could Fairfax Media justify aggregating all its audiences by defining its radio stations as ‘publishing’ and integrating them with other publications?
Advertisers are looking for integrated campaigns that cross many platforms and include social media, but how can they measure that and prove that the campaigns worked?
Are hits the best measure? Or is ‘engagement’ what advertisers want? Or ‘domain authority,’ ‘time spent viewing,’ ‘total links’ or some other online metric?
There are currently no industry agreed standards when it comes to measuring radio’s online presence, but there are plenty of players in the online measurement space – The Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA), Nielsen Online and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) are just three players in this field. The radio industry’s ratings contractor GfK also has expertise in measuring online audiences.
In addition, most websites use Google Analytics to track audience interactions, we certainly do here at radioinfo. But Analytics results can be sliced and diced in many ways. Radio surveys can also be sliced and diced in many ways, that’s why the industry long ago agreed on some standard measures it would talk about publicly, while the other data is only used in house. The same approach is needed for online.
It is an issue that needs to be tackled by the radio industry sooner rather than later.  Expect more discussion about it in coming months as the players try to thrash out the issues to come to an agreed industry position.

Radio computer graphic from Shutterstock

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