UK Electronic Ratings Trials – Next Phase

In Britain, Rajar has outlined the next phase of its hunt for a viable electronic measurement system to replace its current diary system, with tests planned for next month.

The testing will take place around the same time as Rajar faces Wireless Group boss, Kelvin MacKenzie, in court.

The three different electronic measurement systems being tested as a possible replacement for Rajar’s diary system – which MacKenzie and others have criticised as outdated – are the Arbitron Portable People Meter, the Eurisko NOP World Media Monitor and the GfK/Telecontrol MediaWatch, an updated version of the watch used by The Wireless Group as an alternative measurement system.

Rajar says the aim of the test is to determine how well the audiometers can identify up to 33 different music and talk based radio stations ‘under as wide a variety of real life conditions as possible’.

The test will involve 250 people over the weekend of 13-14 November.

Rajar has specified several criteria, which the audiometers should fulfil. These include the ability to identify all formats equally (music or talk), against a variety of background noises; and whether participants are stationary or in motion.

Rajar Research Director, Paul Kennedy, says: “We look forward to assessing the improved versions of the Arbitron Portable People Meter and the GfK/Telecontrol MediaWatch, as well as testing the new Eurisko NOP WorldMediaMonitor.

“Once we’ve analysed the results from these tests and, assuming we have a successful audiometer or audiometers, then we will be able to progress quickly to regional fieldwork tests and a new specification in 2005.”

Frank Harrison, Strategic Resources Director at ZenithOptimedia, says the shift to electronic measurement is an enormous step in the right direction and the 2007 deadline – outlined recently in Rajar’s plan for conversion to electronic measurement, the Roadmap for Change – is not too far away.

“It’s a reasonable timeline. It’s neither too fast nor too slow. There’s grave danger of getting it wrong. It’s important to get it right first time.”

Harrison says his only concern is that the devices are designed to measure tv and cinema as well and he believes Rajar and Barb should get together to take advantage of that.

MacKenzie is bringing the court action to recoup past and future revenue, valued at £66m, which he claims The Wireless Group will lose due to the time Rajar has taken to introduce the electronic system.