It’s Time To Drop Arbitron

Here’s why…

Are you one of those concerned by the current PRISM national security case?

I wonder if those who become apoplectic at Big Brother government worry about the same level of knowledge of our activities and locations by companies such as Facebook and Google? Especially with last Friday’s security issue announcement — the latest — by Facebook.

Since last fall, Facebook has also been able to collect data on users’ online lives beyond its borders automatically; in certain apps or websites, when users listen to a song or read a news article, the information is passed along to Facebook, even if no one clicks ‘Like.’ Within the feature‘s first five months, Facebook catalogued more than five billion instances of people listening to songs online.” 

The quote is from the MIT Technology Review and you can read the entire article HERE.

I’m not big on either paranoia or conspiracy theories. If the government wants to listen to my phone calls or read my emails, I’ll be happy to transcribe them, for a fee. Hey, it’ll be cheaper than what they were paying that high school drop-out who sold them to The Guardian.

It led me to think that the only big data in Radio lies within the Arbitron vaults, and — typically — even though individual radio stations pay an absolute fortune to get their tiny sliver of that immense data trove for their market, radio as a whole can make very little use of the big picture it pays to collect.

Isn’t it time to dump Arbitron?

Does Apple pay some outside company exorbitant sums of money to track how many songs and apps it sells on iTunes?

Does Google pay an outside entity millions of dollars to make certain it is accurately measuring click-throughs?

I don’t think so.

So why can’t the NAB and the RAB combine forces and create a new ratings service that all commercial and public radio station fees support?

No station can opt out. The goal would be collecting bigger data than we now collect, with the aim of better serving the advertisers who support our business, but the insights we would learn from listeners would help make the product better in every format and every city.

It would be a lot more affordable, and a lot more reliable. I don’t know a market in America that hasn’t gotten whacked severely by a panel change.

Radio keeps paying more for less.

We can’t even sell the “Holiday” monthly, when every major market has at least one station with a cume that approaches — or exceeds — that of local TV, because Arbitron labels is as “special” and unworthy of the pricing it deserves.

TV would never allow Nielsen to screw it like that.

Arbiton shouldn’t be able to stand there holding a gun to our head month after month, saying “Pay more or else” as they have for the past 35+ years, but we have to be the ones to stand up and stop it.