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March 16, 2023 1:37 pm  #1

Could Radio Ratings Be Made Public Again? And Are They Trustworthy?

I'm not entirely sure I'm sold on the methodology, but a company called StatsRadio claims it's going to be gathering radio ratings and releasing them to the public - much like the old BBM and Numeris surveys used to do. 

The company claims the current "secretive system" used by the current ratings takers has led to an impression among advertisers that radio is no longer of interest to listeners and by making the numbers public more often and with more transparency, it will help reverse that idea. 

But as always, the devil is in the details. How do they arrive at their numbers? According to their website:

"We apply landline and mobile telephone surveys to streaming data and post data every day...Telephone surveys (landline and mobile-only) are conducted in Canada and the US — in English and French...

"Web data is collected through two means: 1. Streaming data is provided by a radio station’s streaming partner...or is collected directly from the streaming server; 2. Web demographic data is collected using a JavaScript tag appended to the radio player. Demographic data can also be integrated from third-party sources such as iHeart Radio."

But phone-based polls are notoriously inaccurate, especially with the plethora of cell phones vs. landlines in the modern era. And whether those listening online represent a major number of listeners overall is also not entirely convincing, because not everyone uses the radio in that way.

Another concern? This is more of a regional radio service, and not all stations are onboard. When they started this in 2021, they only had a few Ottawa and Toronto clients. And the list tells the tale. From a 2021 press release:

Note the stations involved are all mostly back-of-the-pack outlets, including the formerly known as Ryerson's CJRU-AM - which is virtually unknown by local audiences - and Elmnt-FM, which in one book I recall having a zero rating and enduring major layoffs. So that's another reason to wonder if these results will be worth paying attention to. Plus, the numbers will be 18+ only for their 150-station client stable. 

So while any public numbers will be welcome, there will always be some question about whether these will really matter at all. My guess is they won't, but we'll have to see when the figures are released. Website