The rise of regional radio audience measurement surveys

Regional radio audience measurement surveys (RRAMS) were developed by Xtra Insights, in conjunction with Commercial Radio Australia, in response to the search for a new, cost-efficient research method for regional radio markets to gather up-to-date information.

The results garnered from the RRAMS validate radio’s importance within the community and provide valuable insights in regard to how best serve their audience and how to attract both local and national advertisers.

Since the beginning of 2016, Xtra has completed and released results for 27 surveys across different markets in regional Australia. Feedback from the regional markets involved has been overwhelmingly positive, illustrating the success of and value gained from the survey process for regional stations and local businesses alike.

“The aim of the surveys is to focus attention on the role played by commercial radio in regional Australia and highlight how radio can be used effectively to reach people throughout regional Australia,” said Joan Warner, CEO of CRA. These results can then be used as evidence to support promotional efforts, assisting the stations to sell their product to advertisers within the marketplace. Through the RRAMS process, the stations involved have also been able to confirm their target demographics, increase revenue, and build confidence in their product.

General Manager of Sunshine Coast Broadcasters John Williams (pictured above with his team on survey day), highlighted the importance of conducting a general audit of the marketplace, stating “radio was the only main medium that was not providing up to date figures.”

Southern Cross Austereo CEO Grant Blackley also emphasised the limited research for regional radio, saying, “a number of the markets had not been surveyed for more than 20 years, and some have not been surveyed at all.”

For Rick Lenarcic, Head of Regional Media for SCA, confirming the demographics within their music splits for different station streams was a key goal for participating in RRAMS. Rick commented on the accuracy of the results, saying “it’s freakish how close the numbers are… the demos are fitting really perfectly.”

The results speak for themselves, with participating stations experiencing growth in national and local revenue, increased awareness among advertisers, updated programming, and reinforcement for certain aspects that had already been implemented. According to Mark Taylor, CEO of ACE Radio Network, this reinforcement is also important for their clients, as “they like to have info suggesting where they spend their money is the right place.”

“National advertisers want to see data,” says Grant Blackley. “They want to know how many people and who are listening to our stations – and so these new surveys enable us to confidently engage with advertisers and agencies allowing us to further substantiate key metrics, which assist the investment buying process. This, plus the confidence it gives our sales teams to support the brands they are selling, will lead to an improvement in our revenue.”

Both Mark Taylor and John Williams acknowledged their stations had seen a definite increase in the national market, while John noted local sales had experienced an upswing in business. The RRAMS process allows stations to clearly quantify their strengths and demographic profiles, allowing them to address client needs, and better compete against other media. In light of these results, John Williams confirmed, “clearly radio is seeing gains against other traditional types of media.”

The ABC has also participated in a number of markets and have found the results to be useful.


Increasing confidence, motivation, and accountability were identified as key benefits for the station teams involved. Mark Taylor and John Williams agreed data from the RRAMS has provided sales teams across their stations with increased confidence in their product, allowing them to more actively promote their offerings. Mark Taylor added that the data collected from the regional surveys had been included in all sales collateral, including brochures and presentations. The results of the RRAMS are equally important for the on-air team, providing motivation for them to perform at their best.

Rick Lenarcic highlighted the importance of the surveys in terms of their educational process, both internally and externally, for their clients. Grant Blackley agrees: “I believe a main outstanding matter is the need for further education of agencies and advertisers so they get a greater understanding of the value of regional radio, its value for money, and how easy it is to buy.”

Regional surveys have become embedded within the fabric of SCA over the few short months in which they’ve been implemented. “Every survey is communicated to all 2,500 SCA staff across the country. It’s a very important part of our culture and it’s a very important part of our communication on how successful we are in the market,” said Rick Lenarcic.

Reaction to the regional survey process has been extremely encouraging, with many key players indicating that the surveys have been embraced throughout their team, from sales to their on-air departments, and will become a regular part of their operations. There is already substantial commitment to the RRAMS process for the coming year, with several regional markets scheduled to launch in 2017.

“This isn’t a short-term project for us,” explains Lenarcic. “This is a long-term investment for our markets and we want to keep this as a regular event.”  SCA’s Chief Sales Officer agrees: “I would like to see all radio stations in the regional areas make a strong commitment to continuous improvements in new research and data tools to support data analysis and a stronger commitment to ideation and experimentation across all regional markets.”

With the regional survey methodology now tested and sound, it has proven to be a valuable alternative to previous costly data collection methods during the short time in which it has been in the market. The RRAMS are dynamic in nature, with a number of improvements already in the pipeline. Over the coming months, and perhaps years, it is hoped the regional surveys continue to provide valuable data to the markets involved and become a more permanent fixture within their regular operations.

Tags: | | | | | | | | | |