TAM Media Research’s radio research initiative Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) released on October 31, 2007. The better half of November 1, 2007 was spent on radio stations issuing press releases on being the ‘No. 1’ player in a market, or ‘the best reached’ radio channel, or the ‘stickiest’ station. Industry leaders, however, are clear that this flexibility of looking at data that allows such claims is also a big advantage for this research.
Looking at some of the claims based on RAM, a Red FM press statement stated, “Red FM is the undisputed No. 1 radio station of Mumbai! Upsets the competition with fantastic results in 5 out of 5 weeks in the first ever RAM results released for week 38 to 42 (September 16-October 20). In an industry research conducted by Nielsen Media Research in collaboration with IMRB International, using the worldover adopted Diary Method of media research, RAM declares Red FM as the No. 1 radio station in all five weeks in Mumbai.”
A Radio City press note stated, “The verdict is right here! RAM, India’s authentic radio industry study, ranks Radio City 91.1 FM as No. 1 in listenership in Mumbai and coming in a close second in Delhi across SECs in the age group 25-44 years, across all key parameters. This much awaited comprehensive study reinforces Radio City’s supremacy in Target Audience Rating Point (TARP), which is set to be the definitive and accurate measurement for media buys in radio.”
The official communiqué from Big FM said, “Big 92.7 FM has come up with triumph in the Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) findings. Within just one year of launch, Big 92.7 FM living true to its name, has made a big impact in the radio industry! Big 92.7 FM has clearly proved to be the No. 1 choice across all target groups, delivering higher reach than any of its competitors in the metros of Mumbai and Bangalore. The latest RAM data (week ending October 20, 2007), Big 92.7 FM delivers ‘reach’ of over 1.1 crore listeners cumulatively in the three metros – Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. In addition to leadership in Mumbai and Bangalore, the station in Delhi in just three months of introducing the unique Top 100 Chartbuster format, has witnessed No. 2 status on weekly reach among the Delhi youth, namely SEC ABC, 12-34 yrs listeners.”
The media release from Fever FM said, “With regard to the RAM release, most of the broadcasters have been referring to the reach figures, which indicates the number of people who have ever tuned in to a radio station within a particular week. This might be true even if they have merely listened to the station for a couple of songs. However, if one was to look at it from an advertiser’s perspective, it is more important to look at the time spent listening to the station, which indicates the probability of the listeners catching a commercial on air. Fever 104 FM clearly jumps to the No. 2 slot, ahead of stations that perhaps get a lot of trial. What this means is that a significant number of Fever 104 listeners stay with the station for a longer period of time, significant enough to swing Fever into the No. 2 slot in Delhi.”
RAM officials categorically stated that they wouldn’t release any numbers to the media. Most of the data that is in the public domain are the numbers that the stations that have access to the data choose to release. Giving a media agency professional’s point of view, Divya Radhakrishnan, Vice-President, TME, said, “This is typical of any data that would allow you the flexibility of in-depth information. We see this in television all the time. However, you look at the data, see the trends that you get over a period of time, and then take it forward.”
Lodestar Universal COO, Nandini Dias, said, “Media professionals are equipped to look at the data in various ways and they know what are the specifics or parameters that they want when they are taking a media decision. In that sense, being able to slice the data in various ways doesn’t harm media planners and buyers, but it helps the station in its perception building, which is fine.”
A similar observation was made by Radio City CEO, Apurva Purohit, in an earlier interview, when she said that the whole point about RAM was to be able to look at the market in many different ways. Purohit had said, “Research is very important for any medium and for any media vehicle, whether for its selling or for its strategies such as content and marketing. The need and promise of every station is different and they can see and communicate that better when research allows them the flexibility to do so.”
Kirti Vasan, Business Head, HT Music (Fever FM), also agreed that the data gave one the flexibility to look at various combination. He, however, also cautioned about the manner in which data should be seen so that misleading impression was not given. When questioned on RAM findings, he said, “The broad trend that is emerging clearly is that there is no distinct advantage that any of the old radio players have in listenership.”
With data being tracked every week, and fluctuations in rankings and shares coming with that, the radio medium sure has become much more competitive with many ‘No. 1s’.
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