OPINION: Numeris takes a fall

David Bray is President of Bray & Partners Communications.

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When does “not enough” amount to “too much”? Numeris has announced that, in diary markets, the response rates from those enumerated were not enough to allow for the release of a Fall book. To both buyers and sellers, the Fall book is critical. I enquired as to whether Numeris members would be granted refunds or discounted fees given that they will be receiving nothing in return during this period.

I’m sure you know the answer. Can you imagine any retail sector where the customers were told they would not receive refunds despite receiving no product? Simply because the staff still had to be paid.

I would like to examine recent occurrences and ask if this has all become “too much”.

I take you back to one of my earlier articles discussing the Spring book. Headier times when Numeris was about to launch “continuous measurement” in diary markets. I quote myself…… “as a result of not being able to enumerate and measure in the last few weeks of March & April, this (Spring) release will include 12 weeks of sample from last Fall 2019 (6 measurement weeks) and 8 weeks of new sample for a total of 20 weeks of sample. The remaining four weeks will consist of diaries from the previous Radio Diary release (either Spring 2019 or Fall 2018) as needed.” From this less than auspicious start we looked forward to a much-improved Fall book. That was not to be.

In explaining the latest problem, the Numeris  “Fall 2020 Radio Diary Release Update” offered the following: “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.” May I suggest that, in fact, there couldn’t be a better time to contact households and ask them to respond. We know where you will find them…they are at home.

Now buyers and sellers have to rely on a problematic Spring 2020 book for selling well into 2021. What about format flips, staff changes and station promotions among other considerations? Should we look to a new Spring book in 2021? Maybe. “It is too early to tell if Numeris has achieved the right level of ongoing sustainability”. Numeris promises to “focus on understanding respondents”. To seek “additional insights towards understanding the lack of responses”. Should we now be filled with optimism?

Please note who signed this Numeris update. No one. Who takes responsibility? I take no joy in this assessment. I have had the honour and privilege of serving on many BBM committees over the years.

I have great fondness and respect for the history of BBM/Numeris. But we seem to be encountering more and more problems. PPM has controversy swirling around it concerning sample size and expense.

But I will deal with that in a subsequent column.

Sadly, I’m not sure where we go from here. I do think that this latest development may be too much for members to accept quietly.