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Exclusive: Nielsen's Plan To Measure Online Audio


Online measurement has become one of the biggest issues facing radio in a long time. Broadcasters believe if they can provide advertisers with accurate online listening numbers, combined with their over-the-air numbers, more revenue will flow to radio. Last week, when Radio Ink interviewed Premiere's syndicated talker Sean Hannity for an upcoming cover story, Hannity said he believed he had millions of listeners he was not getting credit for that were listening online using a device not being captured by Nielsen in any way. If true, not only in Hannity's case, but across the industry, it's undoubtedly costing radio revenue.

When Nielsen purchased Arbitron, hopes were high that the additional resources the larger company brought to the table would also mean an online plus over-the-air measurement system. And, it does. Farshad Family (pictured) is senior vice president, local media product leadership at Nielsen. He leads product strategy for Nielsens local media business in the U.S., including local television and audio audience measurement. Family is on the cover of the latest issue of Radio Ink which is out today (and can be picked up in the magazine bins at he NAB show in Vegas). Here's a preview from the Family interview, about how Nielsen plans to measure online radio.

Radio Ink: What is Nielsens goal there for radio?
The approach that weve started to sketch out and share with the industry is we want to measure audio consumption at the point where it happens. What that means is, we have a meter, a digital meter if you want to call it that, a software-development kit. Its essentially lines of code, or software that we want to ask our clients to put into their apps, to put in their players that they have on their websites. That will allow us to measure consumption as its happening, at the point its happening, and will also allow us to measure it on what we call a census basis.

We would not rely on samples for the digital listening. We would be collecting it on a census basis a census approach is different than the traditional approach. We feel strongly that measuring consumption at the point at which it happens, and the idea of putting our SDK into the various players or apps that our clients have, is different from taking the approach where you rely on server logs from back-end systems. We know its important to be able to link a reliable demographic to that listener.

There, we want to leverage existing Nielsen infrastructure where the digital measurement that we provided with video space infrastructure that leverages technology called OCR, online campaign ratings. That is a product we have in the digital space and video space thats already used to measure digital media consumption. It gets demographics from our data partners. We are able to tie demographics to audio consumption that we pick up through our meter and then are able to report that in a format that the industry is able to use.

Radio Ink: So if I listen on my phone, my iPad, my computer if Im using the station player, Im going to be recorded?
Yes. We would pick up that listening wherever its happening. Smartphones, tablets, Android, iOS all the different flavors that are out there. As long as our meter is in there, we would be able to pick up that listening. Were taking the same exact approach on the video side. You may or may not have seen some of the headlines around what we are doing in the TV space, but weve announced that we can give mobile TV ratings starting in fall of 2014. Obviously, some of the details are different, but the basic concept is the same.

Radio Ink: What if I have a local station on, but Im outside doing yardwork? And for three hours Im not even really listening, but the station is recording me.
Family: That gets down to editing and crediting rules for how we give credit to stations for listening. Some of those we havent worked through all of that. You are right, there will have to be some edits that happen to all the data that we pick up. Again, we are going to have a lot of raw listening data coming in to us. We will have to apply some rules against it before we aggregate it into ratings data.

Family did not give a solid timetable for when this new service would be in place or what any of the cost might be to stations.

Tomorrow, we give you details on how Pandora will be -- or not be -- included in this service.

To subscribe to Radio Ink and get our full interview with Farshad Family instantly downloaded to your device, go HERE

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