RAJAR figures for Q2 2013 are released next week (but does anyone really care?)

Now, I really wanted to start this blog with the headline… Radio goes Gaga for the Royal Baby but in all truth I couldn’t bring myself to write about the constant coverage of the birth (even if I am particularly proud of the headline). Instead I thought I’d take a look forward to next week’s RAJAR figures and also try to answer the question I sometimes get asked… RAJAR, does anyone really care?

To start, a quick bit of background… RAJAR, RAdio Joint Audience Research, has been measuring radio listening in the UK since 1992 and currently records data for around 310 individual Commercial and BBC radio stations. The research is carried out through the use of a weekly diary system, available in both physical and digital versions, with an annual sample of around 110,000 respondents aged 15+. This research provides us with all the listening figures, including the data which allows stations to measure their performance and commercial stations to sell their advertising space.

I don’t think there are many people in the radio industry, maybe the micro stations aside, who would say RAJAR is not needed. For the commercial stations it is the currency that they trade off and for the BBC stations it is the way they show their worth to the license-fee payers and government. But, whilst there is little doubt we need RAJAR the fanfare that used to greet its quarterly release seems to have died off somewhat in the last few years. It’s with fear of sounding like an old git when I say… “I remember when people used to gather around the bosses desk to hear how the radio station had performed” and “when Andy Carter, formerly of GCAP (now Global Radio), used to visit agencies to provide everyone with an industry overview RAJAR presentation”. These were times when people used to get excited about results day and even throw parties to celebrate. Where as for the last couple of years the figures seem to be welcomed with a celebratory coffee rather than a bottle of champagne – especially within the commercial radio sector anyway.

So, to answer the question – RAJAR, does anyone really care? Well; the presenters and DJ’s still care, the BBC cares and ultimately the commercial stations still care, because it defines how much money they will be receiving from their on-air advertising space and allows them to shout about how brilliant they are. But when you speak to the advertisers and agencies, it’s the people there that quite frankly don’t give a damn. Yes, an advertiser wants to know that there is a robust survey behind the station’s figures and they want to buy a campaign against those strong figures. But no, they’re not going to be so excited they can’t sleep next Wednesday evening as they wait for the latest data release. This could be because most figures remain relatively static quarter on quarter, or because other media metrics have less of a fanfare, or maybe because it feels like every single station is telling you they’re number one.

So, do I care about RAJAR? Yes I do, perhaps it’s because I’m a bit of a radio geek but I still look forward to the figures coming out; to seeing who’s up and who’s down, to seeing who’s number one overall and who’s found a random niche that they rule. So here’s a look forward to what could happen next week…
– Dave & Lisa on Capital London to retain their number one commercial radio breakfast show spot in London
– Digital Radio to increase in reach and share
– Absolute Radio Network to show improved results
– Magic and Capital to battle it out for the number one spot in London
– And, Planet Rock to break the 900,000 listener mark for the first time in 12 months.

So, are you looking forward to RAJAR?

Simon Pearce is the Client Insight Director at audio and radio advertising specialist RadioWorks

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