Blog Monitoring, Continued

Written Jul. 6, 2006 by in Blogging with 1 Comment

In my previous post, I noted that everything on the web was permanent and findable--erroneous "facts" about your brand left unchallenged become a part of the web's "permanent record." Wikipedia is a great example of this--on the whole, it is pretty good and covers vastly more topics than a traditional encyclopedia might, but its collaborative, unreferreed nature means that while the whole is pretty good, any given individual entry could be way, way wrong. Caveat Emptor.

So, while we typically don't respond to bloggers who simply bash us for the sake of bashing us, we do respond when our data is mischaracterized or incorrectly quoted, because these errors can stay in "print" forever, and it isn't in our interest or the interests of the thousands of businesses who have used our data to have the wrong facts attributed to us.

Take, for example, this mischaracterization of our data on HD radio from Mark Ramsey:

3. When reciever [sic] prices drop, demand will explode

This is a tremendous myth. The article quotes:

'A recent Arbitron/Edison Media Research study found that more than one-third of Americans are interested in HD radio, but nearly half said they would only purchase an HD radio if it cost $100 or less.'

This survey is hopelessly vague and worded with "deniability" in mind. For example, what does "interested" mean - and when I have a dollar to spend which of the things I'm "interested" in will I spend it on? HD Radio exists in anything but a vacuum. Further, the statistic that "nearly half said they would purchase an HD Radio if it costs $100 or less" is absolutely, positively dead wrong. Of course, from a "deniability" standpoint, "would purchase" and "will purchase" are not the same.

Such is the level of "truthiness" in the world of HD radio.

Mark is correct in one thing here--that the $100 statistic is dead wrong, since it didn't come from our research. The writer of the original Boston Herald article got this one way wrong (the actual figure is 21%, not 'nearly half'), and unfortunately Mark has turned an inaccurate use of our data into an equally invalid attack on our work.

Neither the article, nor any piece of research we have ever produced has stated or implied that demand for HD Radio would explode if the price dropped, so Ramsey has constructed a bit of a straw man argument here. As to how we word our questions (not reproduced in either article), Edison is an active member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the Advertising Research Foundation and the Marketing Research Association; I can assure you that our questions are not designed to improve "deniability" or "truthiness," but to solve the business problems of our clients with survey instruments that are methodologically sound, statistically valid, and that utilize all the techniques we have both learned from and contributed to the field of opinion research.

In the case of the Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Series, we are always looking to improve the questions we ask and incorporate what we learn from our clients, board of advisors and industry leaders. There are now 14 iterations of this study--the richest, most trackable mine of publicly available data on Internet and Multimedia consumption habits and their impact on traditional media in the industry--and we make them all available for free on our web site. Have suggestions? Please pass them on to me--we welcome the dialogue.

I look forward to reading Mark's blog, and hope he continues to publish his own research--like us, I know that he prides himself on using valid measures and representative samples, and it is certainly his prerogative to study our Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Survey questionnaires and construct different ways to approach these issues to add value for his clients. In our own quest for truth (and not "truthiness") all we ask is that our data is represented accurately and fairly, as we would do for anyone in our industry--to do otherwise devalues us all.

Reader Comments

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1  Rich Wood on July 9, 2006 9:47 AM

I constantly read about the huge promotion budget of "HD Radio" (IBUZ to stations suffering interference). What major product that requires every member of the population to purchase an expensive device has ever been launched nationally with such a meager budget? What seems to get lost in this puffery is the fact that it's "funny money." It's not cash but radio station advertising inventory. It's not the pefect vehicle to reach those who don't use radio. We need to attract listeners who have either moved to other media or never paid much attention in the first place. The budget needs to be much larger, in cash and spread around to non-broadcast media. One doesn't increase Cume by preaching to the choir.

Currently, there are only a few relatively large, expensive receivers on the market. I do a personal monthly survey of retailers and custom installers. In my medium market only one retailer carries receivers. In my last three visits three Boston Acoustics radios have been sold - to radio stations. They were sold in the first month. None have been sold in the past two months. The "HD Revolution" certainly isn't making an impact on the general consumer. Until there's a reciever chip that doesn't have to be tethered to an internal combustion engine or an electric utility the "revolution" will be dead in the water. Most consumers are buying pocket-sized devices. My chats with manufacturers tell me the lead time for a new receiver is about three years from design to marketing. The broadcaster's group (The HD Dominion) claims the revolution will have succeeded within five years. That makes three years developing receivers and two years to sell 800 million of them. We'll have to drop them from planes.

Broadcasters have been complaining about Docket 80-90 from the early 80s for years. The FCC made room for hundreds more stations in an already crowded market. If there isn't an overall advertising budget to support the existing stations, where will the budget for approximately 7,000 additional "stations" (HD-2 and HD-3)come from, especially when they're little more than voicetracked jukeboxes. Not showbiz. While satellite services were in place with 100+ channels before the first receiver was sold, IBUZ is waiting for receivers before main channel "quality" comes to HD-2. Satellite is filling channels with Howard Stern, Nascar, sports franchises, etc. We're filling HD-2 and HD-3 with Gangsta Easy Listening and minor variations of what's already available (with low ratings) in analog.

The technical flaws in the system should be addressed. For AM radio the system often causes destructive adjacent channel interference. Most AM radio transmitter sites are less than perfect and don't handle this 10lbs. in a 5lb. bag approach well. Note that the FCC doesn't, yet, permit nighttime operation of the system. The nighttime skywave will cause distant stations using the system to wipe out or cause severe interference to stations in their own FCC protected area.

These technical problems will go away when the "hybrid" analog and digital piggybacking goes away. That'll happen when all analog is turned off in favor of pure digital. No station I know would be foolish enough to shut analog down in a marketplace where there aren't enough receivers to equal a single medium market station audience if all those receivers were in that market. The meager number of receivers in the marketplace are spread around the country. In Western Massachusetts I'd doubt there are more than 50 receivers, most bought online. Only three came from retailers.

Before I'm relegated to being a "nattering nabob of negativism" groupie, let me introduce myself. I've spent 45 years in broadcasting. Nearly half that time in New York City. I created the WOR Radio Network and ran it for 10 years. I was with ABC before that. I've programmed several major market radio stations and syndicated many Talk Shows after a music radio career. By the nature of networks and syndication I speak to dozens of stations a week. This revolution is being greeted in the station and consumer marketplaces with aggressive apathy. The deceptive puffery is having its effect.

Rich Wood

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