Are radio survey swings wilder than ever? | radioinfo

Are radio survey swings wilder than ever?

Monday 02 May, 2016
Image: Shutterstock

Radio surveys have always thrown up the odd rogue result.

But lately the ups downs seem to have become steeper and more frequent. Nova Entertainment’s Group Programme Director Paul Jackson certainly thinks so.

In the most recent GfK Survey released last month, Jackson saw his smoothfm station in Sydney go from a 6.9 share two surveys ago to an 8.6 in Survey 1 this year only to drop back to 6.9 just six weeks later in Survey 2.

“Obviously, I find that frustrating,” says Jackson. “If you look at smooth, just the top line 55+ and then 25-39, I think we lost something like a 5 share from one demo and more than 3 from the other. Swings that big probably aren't real unless something is tangibly wrong with your product.” 

In Melbourne, ABC774 Breakfast took a huge tumble, down by 2.7 while 3AW Breakfast went up by that exact amount. And the normally reliable triple j went from 6.4 to 4.6 overall in just one survey.

ABC Director of Radio, Michael Mason says , “We are seeing a lot of movement in the market from survey to survey. That said, we always try to play the longer game and look at trends over a number of surveys before we make decisions. 

“While we always look at the results of each survey carefully,  in the case of 774 ABC Melbourne the station has been doing some outstanding content; breaking stories and getting out into the community, so we hope to see a good bounce back from this survey soon.”

Survey 2 spared ARN the type of massive swings that some other networks experienced. “I would argue that this is just a settling after Survey 1,” says National Content Director, Duncan Campbell. “Survey 1 is a stand alone survey. It’s part in school holidays, part not. So, we tend to see some abnormal listening patterns and what we’re seeing now is just a correction off the back of Survey 1.”

Former SCA Head of Content, Craig Bruce puts it this way, “'Wild swings’ only happen when your station goes down. When it goes up they’re perfectly normal and well within the boundaries of the methodology!

“Draw a line through 12-18 months of data and you’ll get the true picture.”

Still, Paul Jackson is convinced something’s not kosher. “There are definitely more of these kinds of movements. I have seen this happen to WS last year and gone: ‘Im sure thats not right.’ Ive seen it with Triple M who've had huge surges that have then come down again.

“I think part of it may be under sampling. If something’s under sampled it skews the number generally as well. So I think there’s lots of complexities to it and what I've learnt to do is just suck it up, basically.”

The last word goes to GfK’s Head of Media and Entertainment, APAC, Dr Morten Boyer who stands by the integrity of his product.

“The GfK radio ratings are founded on a robust and representative sample across all surveyed markets; our globally accepted multimode recruitment methodology has remained unchanged since 2014 and continues to provide consistent results, with no evidence of rogue numbers. 

“Our samples are constantly monitored throughout the survey period, the surveys are only released once the sample has been approved by the industry's independent auditor as being robust and reflective of the individual market population.”

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