Agencies on posting: What needs to be done to make it work?


With all the news lately about the RAB reiterating posting will happen in radio and CBS Radio President of Sales Michael Weiss announcing his stations will post, we asked some agencies what needs to be done to make this work, and if they are willing to do posting with diaries. A posting coalition of various broadcast groups, the RAB, Katz Radio Group, Interep and Arbitron have been developing guidelines for establishing posting rules for PPM markets. But what about diary markets? Specifically, we asked: Does posting from diaries matter, considering the timeliness of the data would be nothing in comparison to PPM technology? Do you want to wait for the 50 markets scheduled to go to PPM or try to work with posting on diaries until then? What about the other markets that will stay diary for a while?

Said Kathy Crawford, MindShare President/Local Broadcast: “We don’t want to wait that long—that could be a long time. The diaries are not idealistic, but it’s the only thing we’ve got. So we all need to agree on a methodology that everybody can live with. But the real problem is the instability of the numbers…the PPM has greater possibilities.”

Matthew Warnecke, Partner, Network and Local Radio, MediaCom, tells us he’s all for posting. “…and I will wave the flag, jump up and down and say it’s about bloody time. Of course, there will be details that need to be worked out and every client will have slightly different responses and needs. Guess what—it happens that way in television too. Many clients are not aware of how radio measurement operates, so to expect that radio posting will be identical to TV means clients and agencies need to be educated—because diary methodology is not going away in the long term, despite the entry of PPM in the world of radio. And because diary measurement is not going away, it looks at audience building in a completely different way. Helping clients understand what that means, and in turn its impact on how you determine what constitutes acceptable delivery—that’s the big question. There are four-book markets, there are two-book markets, there are condensed markets. You can’t treat them all the same way. Every book is essentially what amounts to a 12-week average. You can’t really say that a Yankees game in NY is going to deliver a 12-week average for the period in which the units arrive. So you’ve got to figure those things out—and that’s what I mean about understanding the nature of the data—it’s not program-specific like television.”

He said agencies are supposed to be involved in this coalition, but he hasn’t sat down yet with them to hammer things out. Seems time is running out, as the posting coalition will see the details and proposed guidelines hammered out by the group in a final draft 5/12. The coalition will vote on those guidelines at the RAB Board meeting 5/21.

What are agencies looking for from posting—particularly PPM? What criteria are they looking for from the broadcasters to guarantee? What do they need to supply to make this work? It’s more complicated than one would think.

Said Crawford: “They need to guarantee the ratings numbers. They also have to guarantee rotations, but that has always been there–equal rotation, horizontally and vertically, by daypart. But there is the issue of ratings. To guarantee the numbers, they need ratings books—I don’t care whether it’s delivered electronically, via a third party software company or whether it’s in a hard copy book. Simply put, stations will need a method by which the invoice can be matched to the buy sheet and the result of that becomes what you post off of.”
Is this in place for the most part now?

“Pretty much all of the big software companies who work with agencies have that capability,” Crawford explained. “I think that the station software companies could do it—some of them—the problem is we don’t have a criteria yet off of which to post. So before we do that, we have to establish the criteria. Because there may be things that on both sides, in theory, that have to be programmed. Or done manually until the program is adjusted. We all have to agree on the methodology first.”

Jerry Lee, B-101 FM Philadelphia owner, tells us he knows of nothing yet in place on the radio side: “To answer your question, no, we don’t have any software. And I don’t know of any software…I was in a meeting with Jess Hanson from Clear Channel. I asked him and he didn’t know but was going to check. But as of the moment, we’re not posting yet and we don’t have any software.”

Said Warnecke: “In terms of internal structure and how agencies manage schedules, there is the need for systems and software that makes the posting process manageable. My understanding of how DDS operates is that radio is not as strong as their television product from a posting standpoint. They will, I’m sure, be required to address that.”

Crawford adds, “It is unfortunate that it has taken so long for the radio industry to understand that is a part of doing business. We’ve been doing this in television for years and years, and for the radio industry to think that we weren’t going to do it in radio was naïve.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The criteria issue may become a big sticking point. What the RAB and coalition wants may not be congruent with what the agencies and clients will accept. Some of those issues concern makegoods. Agencies will not accept makegoods for discreps on any one of their sister stations. They want makegoods on the station(s) they bought in the daypart(s) they bought.