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Nielsen’s Hasker: Measurement Is About Growth

Radio must learn about its younger listeners, advises audience research firm

The recession is the new normal. What you know about your listener needs to change and fragmentation of the audience makes reaching your target listener tricky, but not impossible.

Those are the overall points made by Nielsen President of Global Product Leadership Steve Hasker today in Baltimore.

Speaking to attendees of the Nielsen Audio Client Conference and Jacobs Media Summit, Hasker gave those who interpret audience data for their stations a glimpse into how Nielsen views what it hopes to give its clients so they can make money. It’s the first time a Nielsen executive is speaking publicly about that in front of radio executives since the company acquired Arbitron.

Calling the current economy “the new normal,” Hasker says the recession is business as usual and that means “as you think about your business going forward, don’t expect rapid change.”

“Don’t expect a nice glide path into growth,” he said, as he believes economic recovery will be “a bumpy process.”

While Nielsen is noticing more fragmentation of the audience as Americans tune to radio, TV, online and mobile, that doesn’t mean radio and TV are doomed, he said. He actually called that “utter BS,” and acknowledged that while having more media choices makes radio’s path more difficult path to navigate, fragmentation actually means consumers are consuming more content.

The average American consumes almost 60 house of content each week across radio, TV, online and mobile, Nielsen says.

However you need to basically relearn the habits of young listeners, Hasker said, because youth behave differently from their elders in two ways: they are very active on social media and care more about their own content than what they hear from an advertiser. They are also more influenced by their friends than is the rest of the audience.

“Social media creates a scale of influence that we didn’t have growing up,” he said.

Summing up, he said measurement is about growth. To measure streaming, Nielsen plans to keep its audience measurement panels and has added partnerships with Facebook and Experian, which adds things like income data to the mix.

“As owners of the world’s best audio content, you have the chance to get more money, not less. Write letters to newspapers” when they print something like “radio is dead,” he advised. He believes partnerships can unlock opportunity for radio stations.