Numeris has announced that its Fall 2020 Radio Release won’t happen.
In a communique to members last week, the audience measurement agency said while it was confident earlier this year that it would be able to maintain measurement during the pandemic by moving the diary online-only, events haven’t unfolded that way.
“…the impact of COVID-19 and its extenuating factors have made it more challenging to recruit with response rates lower than planned with households struggling to find the time to complete the diary during this pandemic,” reads the notice to members. “After consulting with the Radio Executive Committee, and in light of the lower return rates for Fall, Numeris’ recommendation was not to produce the Fall 2020 Radio Release but rather focus on a Spring 2021 Release using the diaries collected for Fall and continuing enumeration for Spring. This recommendation is fully supported by the Radio Executive Committee and our Board.”
Without a fall diary, medium and small market stations will be forced to rely on the results of the Spring 2020 Radio Release from this past May for an entire sales year. With Numeris unable to enumerate in late March and April due to the shift to work from home, that release included 12 weeks of sample from Fall 2019 (six measurement weeks) and eight weeks of new sample for a total of 20 weeks of sample. The remaining four weeks consisted of diaries from the previous radio release (either Spring 2019 or Fall 2018) as needed, chosen at random.
Situation ‘very frustrating’: Evanov
Lars Wunsche, Executive Vice President, Sales at Evanov Radio Group, said he’s among those with concerns about the Fall book cancellation, as well as the methodology of diary ratings in general.
“From our perspective, diary-rated markets such as Winnipeg and Ottawa, significant markets and important to our overall company strategy and revenue results will not have any ratings data until next Summer (Spring Release) as it stands currently,” Wunsche told Broadcast Dialogue.
“As we continue to find ways to refine our strategies and improve the sound and entertainment value of our stations, we are now forced to wait until we see any ratings indication for changes and investments that were made. By the time the results are provided, some of these significant adjustments will be almost a year old. We are disappointed and find this situation very frustrating when added to what 2020 has already added to the challenges Canadian radio is facing,” he asserted.
Wunsche said the delay also compounds the advantage that newer, digital “share of ear” competitors have in being able to provide user data to agencies and buyers almost instantly.
“We’re sympathetic to the fact that we’re all dealing with unprecedented times and Numeris no doubt exhausted all of their capabilities, but this will unfortunately have some lasting effects on Independent radio station operators specifically,” said Wunsche.
No data better than compromised data: Jones
Steve Jones, Stingray SVP, Brands & Content, Radio, said while disappointed that COVID-19 will prevent Numeris from releasing a fall book, he believes accurate tuning data should remain the top priority.
“From our understanding, that was simply not possible given the circumstances. In that situation, no fall data is a better option for our industry than compromised data,” said Jones. “Radio tuning, from all accounts, is rebounding nicely despite the ongoing pandemic, and we hope that circumstances allow Numeris to demonstrate radio’s impressive resilience in the spring.”
In its notice to members, Numeris said even with changes to its diary operations, Fall return rates would have required borrowing a significant number of old diaries to fulfill sample targets for several markets and that it’s “more confident in a Spring release” as return results stabilize.
“As part of the process moving forward, Numeris plans to focus on ‘understanding the respondents’. We will connect with households that confirmed participation but did not complete the diary. This will provide additional insights towards understanding the lack of responses during these unprecedented times and making necessary adjustments in recruitment,” the agency told its members.
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