Continuous Radio Measurement is Coming

April 30, 2019
Anacleto Pratas

Diary measurement, for those that don’t plan or buy radio, is used in 97 medium sized Canadian markets to measure how much radio or tv an individual takes in throughout a given day. In larger markets, a digitized PPM (or pocket people meter) is used to passively measure broadcast tuning.  Currently, small to medium sized market radio is a little behind the times in that they only report on 8 weeks of the year and release the results only once a year. However, with new information from Numeris, this will change.

Radio has commonly existed with an 8 week a year diary reporting cycle. These diaries however, are not the greatest. It cannot be guaranteed that the participant is filling out the diary honestly. Beyond that, it’s quite difficult to get an individual to participate, leading to much smaller sample sizes. Additionally, these participants cannot join one of these studies continuously. Finally, radio stations can “game” the current reporting system because they are aware of the 8-week reporting period. This awareness allows them to do a ratings push with the hopes of increasing their ratings during these periods.  As you can imagine, our Broadcast Planners at DSA Media pay close attention to market nuances over time, to ensure we have a sense of ratings peaks or valleys, and the “why” that is always behind them.

However, Numeris has a plan to address this, continuous diary measurement. They will extend the length of reporting from 8 weeks to 24 weeks with 2 releases a year. This continuous measurement will greatly reduce the difficulty of finding participants, and these same participants can be used for longer. Which, will lead to much more accurate reporting and larger sample sizes. With continuous measurement, there is still going to be some down sides however. In the beginning, The market is going to be highly volatile, but this will subside over time. Our Broadcast Planners will continue to pay close attention to these market nuances.

All together continuous measurement seems like a fitting evolution for radio reporting. From a Media Planning standpoint, this should even out some of the significant variations we’ve seen in smaller markets, though we will continue to monitor closely knowing that the data might not be the truest reflection of tuning.