Radio Companies Still Having Trouble Figuring Out Who's Listening
from the is-anybody-out-there? dept
Radio stations, like other broadcasters, have been searching for some time for new ways to measure how many people are listening, rather than relying on the old Arbitron system of getting people to fill in diaries of what stations they’ved listened to. Arbitron’s been pushing its Personal People Meter, a device people would wear around that tracks whatever media they consume, for a few years. It’s not been met with a very great response from anybody, and the concept itself seems pretty problematic, for any number of reasons. But the PPM keeps hanging around, and although last month Nielsen said they wouldn’t use the devices, they’ve been annouced as one of three finalists in Clear Channel’s search for new tracking technology. The apparent leader, though, is a company that combines the PPM into a cell phone, which solves one problem — that the PPM is another device to carry around — but not others. What happens if somebody leaves their phone at home, or it’s in a pocket and can’t “hear” anything? Arbitron’s pointed out plenty of problems with the phone approach, but the biggest one is that they’ll simply replace the expense of giving people PPMs with the expense of giving them smartphones that can run the special media-tracking software. But given the way the broadcast industry’s reacted to more accurate tracking in the past, it’s almost as if they’re looking for a system that will tell them what they want to hear, not what’s actually going on.