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Smyth: ‘Radio’ Becoming Part of ‘Audio’ World

Greater Media executive says Nielsen’s Arbitron acquisition is a good thing

Greater Media Chairman/CEO Peter Smyth sees the Nielsen acquisition of Arbitron as a good thing. In his recurring column, The Corner Office, Smyth says it means “radio” is becoming part of a larger “audio” universe.

Advertisers have long wanted a more integrated snapshot of consumer behavior across all types of media. Nielsen has been working to solve the issue for TV, cable and video, and with the Arbitron acquisition, will now be able to add the average two hours a day that listeners spend with radio into their overall media consumption picture, according to the ratings company.

Nielsen hasn’t said much about the specifics of integrating Arbitron into its world, “but you can be assured that someday in the not-to-distant future, ratings will contain will contain online radio stations such as Pandora, Spotify and iTunes Radio as well as podcasts like Adam Carolla, Ricky Gervais and “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me” from NPR,” says Smyth.

“We can no longer come to work believing that our rivals are the stations down the street; now we will see the true scale of competitors for our audiences’ attention,” according to Smyth, who adds that traditional radio has been competing for some time now with Internet audio, “regardless of what Arbitron rules have said about the listening universe.”

He believes advertisers will soon see more data that will convince them of what radio executives have been saying for years, that radio is an effective, affordable, advertising medium.

Smyth hopes that getting more resources from Nielsen will help its “Nielsen Audio” division enlarge the Portable People Meter sample size and makeup. “While the people meter will continue to be the measurement instrument for the foreseeable future, that larger measured and integrated universe will allow us to see a more realistic picture of our listeners’ behavior,” according to Smyth. “I hope that the Nielsen staff will make it a high priority to provide advertisers and broadcasters with studies of comparative media effectiveness as quickly as possible.”