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Huge Dataset Makes Everything Possible, Statistics Not So Much

For the radio people growth is seen as coming from podcasts, smart speakers like Amazonís Alexa and mobile internet, anything that might appeal to ďad friendlyĒ young people. Out is the kitchen radio (whatís a kitchen?) and the automobile (whatís a car?), all so last century. There is so much to learn.

kitchen radioThe much anticipated new German radio ratings - known as MA Audio 2018 - appeared this week, boldly going where no other radio measurement service has gone before. The Media-Analyse (MA) now - and presumably again later this year - measures audio, combining the traditional interview-based radio survey with data on online audio channels, streaming music services and every possible variation. Direct comparisons with previous surveys are virtually impossible.

Top line data shows lots of Germans tuning in their favorite stations and channels, 94.9% of persons 14 years and older, slightly more men than women. A shade fewer - 93.7% - are choosing traditional broadcast radio. Younger people in Germany, without surprise, prefer streaming.

National rankings compared with last year’s radio audience estimates changed very little. The NRW network of 37 local stations in North Rhine - Westphalia remains on top, followed by Bavarian public radio’s Bayern 1, then Bavarian private channel Antenna Bayern. The top three maintained one million plus listeners. Next, in order, were WDR 2, SWR 3, EinsLive, NDR 2, Bayern 3, Hit Radio FFH and SWR 4 BW to round out the top ten.

Further down the list was Klassik Radio, 16th, which grew by about 50% nationally. It is a light-classical music channel with FM reach in several Federal States, DAB+ across the country and, of course, the satellite. It also can be found on FM in Austria.

Away from the main pages of the data release were the non-commercial, mostly public radio channels. The MA radio audience listening reports, let there be no doubt, are designed for advertising people and media buyers. National public channel Deutschlandfunk (DLF), available across all analogue and digital channels, would have placed in the top five had commercial and non-commercial channels been combined. Indeed, the top 20 would change drastically with non-commercial channels added.

"Radio has emancipated itself from traditional receivers and has become basically ubiquitous, especially in terms of individual use,” said German media theorist Norbert Bolz, quoted by (March 28). “At the same time the radio genre retains a tremendous advantage that nothing else can compensate for and the reason it remains unrivaled: You are literally surrounded by it.” Alexa, what day is it?

Streaming music service Spotify, thus, appeared for the first time side-by-side traditional radio channels. Across most of the 16 Federal States Spotify ranked in the lower half of the top 20. Where the streaming service attracts more - or less - listeners competition appears to be a factor, suggested analyst Jens Schroeder (March 28). There are essentially two broadcasters in North Rhine - Westphalia, public broadcaster WDR and private regional network NRW; Spotify ranked 9th (Monday-Sunday). By contrast, in Berlin “with a large number of traditional broadcasters playing a role” Spotify ranked 21st. Only Spotify’s premium (paid) service was measured, leaving to the imagination numbers for the free service.

This century’s media buyers want the same from radio ad sellers as they get anywhere else: big data. Of course, audio ads can be personally addressed with micro-targeted messages. But the MA 2018 Audio/I data file is huge, overwhelming the non-bot number crunchers. “The spate of press releases (from broadcasters and sales-houses) are no more than jubilation notes on listener gains among 30 to 40 year old lawn mower owners,” wrote advertising news portal (March 28).

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