Develop an ongoing measure of "affinity" that is designed to reflect the advertising value of the unique relationship listeners have with their stations. The mission of this (effort) is to design a relevant, timely and accessible metric that captures audience involvement.
At the time we noted that the company’s new found interest in measuring affinity was ironic because Arbitron had essentially stopped measuring affinity when it switched to PPM.
A year after the announcement without much explanation the idea was dead. There would be no engagement metric–at least from Arbitron.
We speculated that Arbitron may have killed the idea because engagement measures an active listener wilfully choosing one station over another.
PPM does not measures listening. It measures only “drive-by” exposure. Arbitron could not repurpose PPM ratings to create a measure of engagement.
Ironically, while PPM cannot tell us anything about engagement, the diary does.
It is a good instrument to measure engagement because the listener herself writes down the stations she listens to, and how often. If she is really engaged with a station, she is going to write it down a lot.
And the irony is particularly telling given that the Media Rating Council (MRC) has already accredited the engagement metric. It’s from a company you’ve probably never heard of, Chartbeat.
As reported by Gigaom:
Web analytics firm Chartbeat says it is the first to be certified by the Media Ratings (sic) Council for a new way of measuring the actual attention of readers, as part of a move to get publishers and advertisers to stop focusing only on clicks and pageviews.
Chartbeat measures the amount of time a viewer spends reading online content arguing that the time spent with content is more important than things like unique viewers.
As we pointed out in the 2009 post:
We at Harker Research have found that there is a strong correlation between high Time Spent Listening (TSL) and affinity. As one goes up, the other one does too. If a listener has a natural attraction towards a radio station, she probably listens to it a great deal. She listens less to a station that she feels less strongly about.
Read the prediction of one digital ad analytics firm as reported by AdAge:
With the viewability standard in place, creative agencies should expect the ground to continue shifting toward attention metrics -- whether cost per hour, cost per 30 seconds or something else. "I don't think it will be one single metric," said Jonah Goodhart, CEO of Moat, a digital ad analytics firm. "We will see a shift on transacting on viewability in late 2014 or early 2015," he added. "This idea of buying media on the metric that makes the most sense for you is where we'll see the world going."
Yet at a time when advertisers are embracing engagement and turning away from metrics of reach and unique viewers, radio is heading in the opposite direction, using a measurement that emphasizes reach over engagement.
PPM “atomizes” radio reducing radio listening into homogenous ten minute listening spans preventing radio from capitalizing on its unique ability to engage.
Maybe Nielsen should take another look at engagement. Maybe Arbitron was on to something in 2009, but didn’t have the right tools to develop the metric.
And radio could sure use some engagement.