Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

Posts Tagged ‘nielsen’

Nielsen, Arbitron and the Upcoming Battle – Part II: Engaged

Posted by Steve on August 17, 2009

Several months ago, I wrote an article about the potential for battle between Arbitron and Nielsen. It was called “Nielsen, Arbitron and the Upcoming Battle.” You can link to it here.

Since then, Arbitron announced its “ARB-TV” program and just last week the Financial Times broke a story about a new consortium of advertisers and agencies

In today’s “Taylor on Radio-Info,” Tom Taylor had a couple of paragraphs on this topic. He says, in part:

Now, #3, I’m hearing more concrete chatter about Area 51-kinds of research using an electronic detector much smaller than a PPM.

I thought to myself – “huh, top secret development? Didn’t I post a link to the actual photo of the Nielsen Go Meter?”

So, I popped back to the article and – lo and behold – the link to the picture of the “Go-Meter” was broken. A Google search for “Go Meter” or the file name for the original picture turned up nothing. Any reference to the “Go Meter” has been (it seems) removed from the Nielsen website. Interesting.

So – Tom is right. Nielsen HAS gone stealth on its PPM attack project.

Also in his article, Tom mentions the idea of installing encoding software on a cell phone that would perform the function of a device like the PPM. There are many problems with using a mobile device like a cell phone as a measurement device for audience ratings. The biggest one is the instability of the platform. A measurement device for media audience ratings needs to work like a simple appliance. Having other applications running on the platform at the same time raises the possibility of instability exponentially. Thus, the whole platform could crash and detection of media exposure would stop. The way to avoid this is to use an imbedded operating system on a single-function device, like the PPM. These devices can be rock-solid stable with very high levels of reliability. There are also behavioral reasons why the cell-phone solution doesn’t make sense, but this single technical reason is enough.

So – Arbitron and Nielsen are rattling sabers, but in a “muffled” way. It’s clear that the muffles will be taken off the sabers pretty soon. Nielsen will attack Arbitron in the major markets with portable electronic measurement. Arbitron’s move is to encroach upon Nielsen with its ARB-TV project and alignments with companies like TRA and Tivo.

Let the battles begin!

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Arbitron Adding Significant New Feature to PPM

Posted by Steve on April 20, 2009

logo_NAB09JPEG.jpgIn the flurry of press announcements heralding the start of the NAB Show in Las Vegas today, Harmonic Inc. and Arbitron Inc. announced the use of Harmonic’s Rhozet™ Carbon Coder universal transcoding technology in Arbitron’s PPM media research services. In a quote from the press release, Taymoor Arshi, Chief Technology Officer at Arbitron, said:

“Our goal is to offer our customers new measurement solutions using our Portable People Meter technology. Our integration with Rhozet Carbon Coder helps by providing customers with the ability to prepare their content within their current workflows for inclusion in our media research services.”

The press release further states:

The Carbon Coder software will be used in production pipelines to embed an inaudible code into the audio portion of entertainment and advertising content. This code can be detected by the Arbitron Portable People Meter™ (PPM™).

What does this mean for the PPM service? Theoretically, any digitally processed content – programming, commercials, and so on – can be encoded with this technology. Currently, a special “PPM™ Encoder” is required to insert the sub-audible code in the content, typically in the audio chain of the broadcaster. While perfect for measurement of media outlet audience, the current technology does not allow for the direct measurement of specific program elements like commercials and features. The Rhozet Carbon Coder will allow Arbitron to measure audience levels for all encoded media content – regardless of the source. For example, to measure exposure to a specific commercial or album track, you would need to know the exact time that the content aired on each outlet. You would then need to cross-tab this information with the PPM™ rating for that exact time, for every outlet. While not impossible, the current state of reporting of this information is quite challenging. One company, MediaMonitors (a division of RCS, which is owned by Clear Channel) has built a business around this process with ground-breaking products like Audience Reaction™ and Mscore™. MediaMonitors accomplishes this by electronically monitoring radio stations, storing “fingerprints” of the content in their database, and then cross-tabbing with the minute-by-minute PPM™ data. The power of MediaMonitor’s solution is that it does not require encoding of the content prior to broadcast. The weakness – in the new world of encoded content that Arbitron and Harmony are creating – is that for encoded content, you will be able to determine exposure whether or not the outlet itself is encoding. An advertiser would be able to have a window on exposure to a specific commercial – whether video or audio – across all platforms that are measurable by the PPM™ device. This is very powerful, and when fully matured, the technology will have the potential to change the media marketplace in very significant ways.

Imagine, if you will, a video that is originally aired on a broadcast TV network. The audio is re-broadcast on radio stations around the country. Clips of the video are posted on YouTube. Elements of the video are edited and placed in various podcasts. Re-runs air on cable networks. Jon Stewart airs a clip. You get the idea – all of the exposure to this content will be measurable in PPM™ markets if the original content is encoded with the Arbitron/Rhoznet Carbon Code.

This relatively quiet announcement at a trade show generally focused on broadcast engineering will have a profound impact on the entire business of media. And, it’s another “shot across the bow” by Arbitron to it’s rival, Nielsen.

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Interview with Ernest H. Clay of ARB

Posted by Steve on April 4, 2009

I found an archived interview of Ernest H. Clay of ARB, circa 1960, on the subject of TV ratings as they stood at the time. Very informative and many of the questions raised are the same that we hear today. Listen here.

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Nielsen, Arbitron and the upcoming battle

Posted by Steve on March 20, 2009

Does Nielsen really care about measuring radio in just small and medium markets? The big prize is – and always has been – measuring radio in major markets and nationwide, using meter technology. This is where they are going.

In an article on March 19th in Tom Taylor’s Radio-Info, Tom said:

“What kind of electronic measurement is Nielsen thinking about, for radio?

One research-industry veteran tells me “look, the competition with Arbitron will keep everybody on their toes. But they’re not doing this just to rate 51 small markets for Cumulus and Clear Channel. And they must know that when they look at the bigger markets that have the Arbitron meter, they’re not going to be able to break in there with a diary.” He figures “they must be working on something electronic” to counter the Arbitron PPM. more…

Nielsen has had a portable media measurement device in the field for several years now. It is the “Go Meter,” and has a similar technological design to Arbitron’s PPM device.

Here’s a photo of the “Go Meter:”

Nielsen could use a national rollout of the Go Meter and have the radio service subsidized by the TV service. It certainly will help economies of scale to be able to spread the cost of a national roll-out across multiple media. And, remember, Nielsen is also very interested in streaming video and audio measurement. So, they have a lot of ways to monetize the deployment of this system.

My view, radical though it may seem, is that the sticker diary program announced by Nielsen and Cumulus is a straw horse for deployment of Go Meters in the Cumulus markets in preparation for an all-out attack on Arbitron’s PPM strongholds in the top markets. Nielsen has a bottom-up strategy versus Arbitron’s top-down strategy.

Will this be a “slam-dunk” for Nielsen? No – because the new management team being formed at Arbitron, led by Michael Skarzynski, undoubtedly sees this coming.

This will be a tremendously interesting battle.

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High-Tech Gear Blogger gets Nielsen Radio Diary

Posted by Steve on January 14, 2009

deleon.jpg

Nicholas Deleon, of the well known high-tech gear blog Crunchgear, posted yesterday about the KRI Armband Portable HD Radio Player. Nothing in the HD Radio review that we hadn’t seen on Orbitcast, but Nicholas did had one other interesting comment:

In other radio news, my household has been chosen to be a part of Nielsen radio’s stat-tracking thing. (I received the initial “you’ll be getting a giant packaged with official Nielsen materials shortly” yesterday.) The notebook will be filled out thusly: Opie and Anthony, Monday-Friday, 6am-9am, 92.3FM; every other entry will show that, nope, this household is not listening to that drivel known as terrestrial radio. Please plan your business accordingly.

It will be interesting to follow Nicholas’ posts as he experiences the new Nielsen service. Since it seems that his household will be reporting listening to only CBS’ K-Rock, I guess Cumulus and Clear Channel will be disappointed. My guess is that he’s being surveyed for the Westchester market – that being the closest to NYC (home of K-Rock) of the 51 being surveyed. Or – is he getting Nielsen confused with Arbitron and he’ll become a PPM panelist?

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