There is a lot of turmoil is in the global broadcast research industry. The old economic adage comes to mind – if the US sneezes, we catch pneumonia. Having said that, turmoil can be good. Researchers are very courageous in talking to measurement failures or experiments, all in the quest for ultimately improving research insights for advertisers.
This turmoil is, however, not politicised. This is possibly because in Europe and the US the industries were structured transparently and collaboratively decades ago through various bodies. Most joint industry committees (JICs) experience the confluence of money, politics, and technical issues, hence the responsibility of research companies to drive transparency.
These insights come from the latest ASI European Radio Symposium in Venice, which I was fortunate enough to attend.
The global broadcast media research landscape is dynamic, with tenders all over the world, particularly in emerging markets both in East Europe, as well as other continents. Traditionally the US and UK have dominated the research market. In a panel of CEOs at the ASI symposium, the various companies claimed their competitive advantage: GfK have a bursting pipeline from countries demanding an independent service and have made big investments in hardware and software. Kantar focuses on retaining client trust; it has recently won business in Romania, Turkey, UAE, and Switzerland. Nielsen maintains its tradition of having the best scientists and owning the television measurement space. The Scandinavians are highly innovative, attracting attention due to their appetite for trying new methodologies, which is linked to their society having evolved to very high-tech households and individual application.
Some of the main take-outs from the ASI symposium for radio research were that the days of black boxes is over; there is a new quest for transparency across the industry; and clients have smartened up and want to be part of the methodological discussions.
A research solution suggested was to embed pilots in the measurement process, so as to continually get feedback on innovations. Online testing could make up at least 20% of the interviews.
The radio research fraternity needs to agree on definitions for listenership with respondents, otherwise some of the findings will be wrong. Ad spend is out of balance, simply because radio has an image problem. Radio return-on-investment (ROI) is highest in government and retail, and then entertainment. The exception is FMCG. Ultimate success lies in the audience ratio, radio share should be close to 20%, not 13% as it is in South Africa, and 6% globally.
The ASI symposium looked at the significant changes that radio research is undergoing globally. Technological advances have facilitated the introduction of new types of content like digital stations and apps, as well as new ways of delivering content like DAB+ and streaming. Radio is going multi-platform; it’s not about a piece of furniture anymore.
Personalised radio advertising is the future. Radio fights on content and digital fights on technology. Much experimentation is happening and the popular adage ‘watch this space’ applies. Apple radio is perceived as a real threat and GPS is key to signed-in audiences. In-dash digital radios increase car purchase intent by 14%, which means car manufacturers are working on a beautiful hybrid interface for cars.
The message to marketers is that social networks are the new gold. Twitter was listed in November 2013 and its market cap in one day was bigger than that of WPP. However, it’s a pipedream to think of all radio listenership on the internet, the bandwidth even in the UK would not be sufficient. Internet will make radio unfashionable, but not kill it. Online radio in the US has tripled over the last 10 years to 15% now being exclusively online, mainly for more affluent listeners.
Andrea Rademeyer is CEO of Ask Afrika.