Kurt’s Blog: Radio’s AQH Decline and the PPM

There was an interesting debate going on in the “Tom Taylor NOW” newsletter late last week over the recent release of a Borrell Associates white paper called Future of Legacy Media.

Borrell’s report argues that consumers are trading time-spent-listening (TSL) of legacy media like newspapers, radio, and TV for digital media brands, and supports that point with the observation that AM/FM radio’s time-spent-listening has declined 30% between 2008 and 2013.  (Since radio’s cume has been holding essentially steady, that means radio’s AQH has also declined by about 30%.)

On Friday, Tom Taylor’s readers were asking if that apparent TSL decline was illusory — i.e., merely the result of a research methodology change, Arbitron’s switch from paper diaries to PPMs (Portable People Meters) in large markets.  (“The time period coincides, exactly, with Arbitron’s phased rollout of electronic measurement,” one reader wrote.)

As longtime RAIN readers may recall, I have some experience in this area:  For almost 20 years (off and on during the period 1980-2000), I ran a market research firm called Strategic Media Research that was for a while the leading music research firm in America.   And when the ratings firm Birch Ratings went out of business in the early 1999s, we launched a telephone interview-based ratings product called AccuRatings that had a successful several-year run that is still remembered fondly by some old radio hands.

So, some thoughts and observations:

Read the rest of Kurt’s blog post here.

Brad Hill