Everybody's got an opinion on ratings these days


Everybody’s got an opinion on ratings these days. Here’s a long one from veteran broker Frank Boyle.

With all due respect to the learned Radio Group Heads & Ad Agency Media VP’s who keep criticizing ARB & PPM — they have no one to blame except themselves. Since 1996 the radio/ad industry has successfully painted themselves into 6a corner — with only one national radio research outfit. Add to that pattern — there are really only two major radio reps. That’s the undeniable result of the quarterly demands for increased EBITDA/BCF & revenues.

What with bulk of very profitable radio stations — one’d think that they’d protect themselves with at least two truly national radio research firms — a la Mediastat/ Pulse/ Hooper / Nielsen/ of earlier times? Selfishly from an old salesguy’s point of view — if you didn’t look good in one — you might look better with another methodology.

Most all station execs I hear from continue to complain about ARB’s consistent escalating rate raises. Hey, if you were a monopoly  — wouldn’t you do the same thing? Like the old days with Ma Bell — you complained to them — they said" Well, go to our competitors".

Risking sounding like an old fart, in the 40’s -50’s -60’s -70’s, there were always at least three national radio research companies — each with different methodology. And , there were 50% fewer radio stations — and you could only own  — 7 or 14 or 21 total stations — never more than an AM/FM in any one market.

Reportedly 40% of the stations couldn’t make debt service but somehow contributed to funding 3 different national radio research services. Ad Agencies loved the math — hey, they got it all free. There were virtually no Public Pure Radio companies on Wall St..

When I opened the Eastman Office in Detroit in 1959 — there were 36 national radio sales rep companies. Now there are two. Results of 9Clients successfully forcing reps into cut commissions that were 15% for 40 years — and adding sales people/services and offices. You showed ’em, right — who were they to enjoy those exorbitant commissions? You got ’em right out of the business-that’ll teach those greedy rep SOB’s.

Now you’ve got a chance to be repped a company owned by your biggest local competitor. Bob Eastman, John Blair, Ed Petry, Dick Buckley would turn over in their graves, at such a prediction.

American ad agencies are the biggest cheapskates. They pay zero for radio research, I’m told, and complain the loudest that it doesn’t get research that’s accountable. Wow — almost brings tear to your eyes.

Canada, Australia and many foreign lands do it right, in my prejudicial opinion. Their radio research is funded by stations, agencies and advertisers. Not too many freebies.

In conclusion — until there is similar two or three part funding of at least two truly national radio research firms with different methodologies — the industry’s complaints will skyrocket in reverse to their satisfaction with ARB’s ‘gotcha’s." Radio has to grit its teeth to grudgingly and significantly reduce its historic 30% to 60% BCF to secure credible and accountable research.

Let’s say that I’m flat ass wrong — what’s your happy alternative — RPM = Robot Personal Meters?

Frank Boyle
Station Broker