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Nielsen Audio announces how it will measure radio streaming

Nielsen-Logo-ColorIf integrated broadcast and webcast ratings is the holy grail of radio audience measurement, Nielsen Audio took a new step toward holistic metrics this week when SVP Farshad Family broadly described how it intends to track online radio streams.

Speaking at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Farshad Family sketched the technical plan for measuring online radio streams. As reported in Inside Radio, a three-pronged approach would deliver listening data that includes:

  • the point of consumption (e.g. web player, or mobile app);
  • listener attributes (e.g. age, location);
  • de-duplication (teasing apart online listening from terrestrial listening to determine true audience reach regardless of listening platform).

The key to obtaining accurate measurement of online streams will be a bit of software that radio stations can include in their various listening apps — such as the “listen now” player on the station’s website, and the station’s mobile listening app. This type of census measurement (capturing each listener) potentially provides more accuracy than survey measurement (which extrapolates from a few listeners) such as Nielsen’s PPM devices that measure broadcast radio.

Any opt-in system that measures each listener requires publisher participation — in other words, if a station does not implement Nielsen’s software, or does so incompletely, that station’s stream listening would be untracked or incompletely metered by Nielsen.

Triton Digital provides a local ratings service to webcasters called Webcast Metrics Local, which recently received accreditation from the Media Rating Council (MRC). That system uses server data supplied by subscribing publishers, rather than requiring a software installation as Nielsen intends.

Triton’s accredited methodology emulates broadcast radio’s traditional Cume and AQH measurements, effectively putting webcast metrics side-by-side with terrestrial metering standards. It is unknown whether Nielsen’s tracking will result in Cume and AQH metrics, and that question was on the lips of NAB Show attendees who attended Farshad Family’s remarks.

Inside Radio reports that there is no timetable for Nielsen’s new ratings plan, and that radio clients will be given a testing period during which they can compare Nielsen’s data with their internal server logs.

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Brad Hill

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