Mumbrellacast Interview: CRA’s Joan Warner & GfK’s Dr Morten Boyer detail the radio ratings shakeup

Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) announced this week that it will adopt a new, hybrid methodology when it comes to measuring radio audiences, with a reliance on paper diaries finally coming to an end.

CRA has worked with ratings data provider GfK on a new Radio360 system, which will include a mix of listeners wearing an electronic watch meter, as well as e-diaries, with paper diaries to be slowly phased out. Live streaming data will also be integrated into the multimillion-dollar system from 2022.

Joining the Mumbrellacast to chat about the overhaul, CRA chief executive officer, Joan Warner, admits that it’s a long-overdue update. “Since 1947, there’s been very little change,” she says, wryly. “It was very, very pleasing to get to the point where we could actually say to people: ‘Hey we’ve done a number of years’ work and decided how to move forward’.”

CRA CEO Joan Warner and GfK ANZ MD Dr Morten Boyer

Chatting with Mumbrella alongside Warner is GfK Australia and New Zealand managing director, Dr Morton Boyer. Warner says that one of the key takeaways ahead of the change, is that it’s not a switch flick comparable to the way OzTam fundamentally changed the television ratings system when they took over from Nielsen in 2001.

That was a cautionary tale, Warner says, with vastly different results delivered from day one compared to the old Nielsen ratings. That’s why this new hybrid system is the way forward because “listening is taking place across multiple devices and with multiple different platforms, so [we thought to ourselves], why are we restricting ourselves.

“So we came up with a multi-channel, multi-modal approach to measuring radio listening. We’ve got a roadmap to the future and we have lots and lots and lots of different stuff happening, but we’re going to take it slowly.”

The new system will begin with a transition to e-diaries, with results to be included in sixth ratings survey, out in a matter of weeks. Then, hard data from live streaming will coming into the equation next year. Warner and Boyer explain that combining recall and electronic data logs is a huge undertaking.

“Mixing recall with electronic and data from server logs is a massive exercise and for radio [and] the first of its kind in the world,” Warner says.

That streaming data will provide significant new avenues of information to dive into when the ratings drop each book, and that streaming data will be taken from a streaming database and also from watch panels.

Boyer adds: “You’ll be able to drill into a lot more detail and access much more granular data when it comes to the streaming audiences, which of course can be an audience that can be targeted and accessed much more directly by advertisers and agencies.”

From next year 2,000 listeners will begin wearing watches that will detect when the wearer is in listening range of a radio broadcast. We last heard about wearables to measure radio listening in 2018, and Boyer says they’ve been developed further and are “world-leading.”

He admits, however, that there are some issues that are inherent in any kind of wearable technology. “We ran into some hardware challenges [back then], but now it is an environment where we have consistency, as far as the hardware is concerned.

“The watch itself has come a long way over the years as well, with respect to its design and technical capabilities as well. And we’ll continue to make improvements to that.”

Listen to the full chat below:

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Music credit: RetroFuture Clean Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Backbay Lounge Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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