Comment from Peter Saxon
Funny how footy teams only ever blame the umpire when they lose.
Due to the complex rules that govern codes such as Rugby and NRL, their games are riddled with refereeing errors. But most observers agree that errors tend to even out over the course of a match and only rarely affect the result. Even when they do, it’s obvious that after 24 rounds, the teams that compete in the finals are those that played the best footy over the entire season, regardless of the odd dodgy call along the way.
Radio surveys can be a bit like that. I’ve lost count of how many times, and how many ways, I’ve said it here on radioinfo. In fact, I said it again in the lead up to Survey 5, “Sure, the current GfK regimen has been known to throw up an occasional ‘rogue result’ in a shift or demographic in a random market from time to time but it has invariably shown to be accurate when averaged out over four or more surveys.”
It’s a “rule” that’s been hammered in to me by every competent content director and seasoned radio professional in the country who know that any rise or fall around 2.0 or more might be an anomaly that will likely be reversed by the next survey.
So, I was surprised and disappointed when I read in Fairfax Media that a seasoned radio professional of Kyle Sandilands’ stature had spat the dummy because he had one poor survey.
It wasn’t that what he said about surveys was not accurate, for the most part it was. But he failed to emphasise that his Breakfast show on KIIS106.5 with Jackie Henderson has been a consistent performer over time and that’s why nobody should pay much attention to this one result.
Instead, Kyle told the SMH, “[I] couldn’t give a s— about the ratings. I don’t even believe those ratings are true.”
Now, if he’d said that, or the footy equivalent of it, at an NRL post match media conference, he’d be fined up to $20,000 for bringing the game into disrepute. Mind you, if he’d said something like, ‘The elections are rigged and the media is fake,’ which brings the central pillars of western democracy into disrepute, he’d be elected President of the United States. But I digress.
The reason there are harsh penalties if you bring a game into disrepute is that you’re effectively biting the hand that feeds you. When a professional sport is no longer considered suitable for the whole family, or fans get the feeling that the match or the race is fixed, then attendances fall, along with TV and radio ratings, which leads to a loss of revenue.
Whether it’s professional sport or commercial radio, there are plenty of naysayers without one of our own adding to their ranks and supplying them with ammunition.
Just the other week an article entitled Why I would never advertise on radio again bobbed up on mumbrella, “Radio ads are ineffective at building brand awareness and don’t have enough transparency when it comes to their effectiveness,” proclaimed Sam Wood, the former Bachelor, social media influencer and now owner of online fitness business 28 By Sam Wood, said agencies frequently tried to convince him to spend millions on radio ad campaigns, “but we would never do it again.”
I’m not about to refute Mr Wood’s claims. I accept that, for whatever reason, for him radio was not the right tool by which to reach his particular organisation’s advertising goals. Perhaps he was poorly advised by a sales rep who did not properly manage expectations. Or the creative execution missed the mark. Who knows? You can’t please everyone. I actually know somebody who doesn’t like Sara Lee.
Happily, advertisers who are so strongly opposed to radio like Mr Wood are few and far between. But geez, Kyle, do you have to give them a free kick so they could point to you and say, ‘See, even one of radio’s biggest stars reckons the ratings system is suss?’
Could the system be improved? Of course, it could and it is being improved all the time. It’s not as if radio in the developed world, with CRA a world leader, has been sitting on its hands. About 30 per cent of diaries in Australian metro markets are now submitted online. The current system now measures digital listening, which includes DAB+ and online streaming.
Over the past 20 years, the radio authorities have tried and tested a myriad of ways to collect data electronically – in the background without the need to fill in a book. To no avail. No other system has been found that can more reliably measure radio listening in the variety of locations and platforms currently available better than the current methodology.
On the other hand, there are plenty of advertisers and marketing experts who believe online measurement of digital platforms is rubbish and radio’s methodology is far superior.
Mark Ritson, Adjunct Professor at Melbourne Business School labels some of the methods by which digital advertising is measured as, “bullshit.” He said, “What you’ve got wrong [in radio] is that you measure audiences properly.”
Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard speaking at the annual Internet Advertising Bureau’s leadership forum in Florida, vented on Google and Facebook’s ‘walled gardens’ and demanded transparency from the digital supply chain.
In October 2015 radioinfo spoke to Andrew Reid, then Head of Digital, Data and Investment at Amplifi, part of the Dentsu Aegis Network.
He told us, “The big issue right now is that there’s a lot of wastage in digital. We know ads are being served but we’re not sure people are seeing them. Up to half of that is unseen because it’s under a page or behind a browser, you could have multiple screens opening up. In Pandora or Spotify’s case you might have a visual coming up on your screen and you don’t view it. Just because I know more about the audience doesn’t mean that I’m connecting with that audience.”
In the end, it’s not even about Kyle blaming the survey for his loss. There will always be the haters who, in their ignorance, will revel in the survey 5 result. But why react to them and show them you’re upset? Why give them oxygen when every broadcast professional knows that by Survey 6 or 7, in all likelihood, the headlines will read “Kyle and Jackie O come roaring back!”