Ando Media, the sole provider of Internet radio ratings, changed the metrics it reports in its Webcast Metrics service beginning with the September monthly report. The new metrics are based on average minute session counts, a marked departure from the more familiar radio ratings based on a five-minute qualifier.
The three new metrics are: Average Active Sessions (AAS), the average number of streams of one minute or more active within a time period; Session Starts (SS), the number of streams of one minute or more started within a time period; and Average Time Spent Listening (ATSL), the average number of hours for each session lasting more than one minute. Metrics are provided for two dayparts, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., Monday to Sunday.
“Terrestrial radio AQH [average quarter hour] and Cume measurements are not the best metrics for measuring today’s audience delivered via a digital channel and do not accurately pertain to online audio,” said Robert Maccini, CEO for Ando.
Although Ando said it made the decision to change the metrics after meeting with publishers and agencies, many in the business were blindsided by Friday’s (Nov. 6) announcement.
According to several sources, not a single agency or advertiser was involved in the meetings that began five months ago and at least one major Internet radio provider was not involved in the decision.
“I’m horrified,” said Priscilla Fladger, network radio supervisor for Mullen. “We are trying to advance this industry and they [Ando] reversed it by 10 years. It’s like 1999 again.”
While Ando worked hard to get away from the legacy of traditional radio, the new metrics may have gone too far, making it difficult for buyers, most of whom buy both traditional and online radio together, to reconcile total reach in a multiplatform campaign.
The two new session metrics do not account for duplicate listeners, providing no accurate measure of how many unique listeners there are to an Internet radio station. “This measures a machine, not an individual,” said an Internet radio provider who requested anonymity.
“An impression is not an impression; it has to be accurate,” Fladger said.
Many also have a problem with the Session Starts metric because it too, doesn’t screen out duplicate listeners. Many publishers use a time out function on sites, thus forcing individuals to relaunch sessions. That could open the door to gaming the measurement stats.
“To be embraced by the market, whoever ends up measuring [Internet radio] will need to be objective, and will need to provide metrics that have been blessed by the media buying and planning community,” said Eyal Goldwerger, CEO of TargetSpot, the largest online audio network.
In addition to changes in its metrics, Ando Media’s September report included first-time session counts for Pandora, which debuted in the No. 2 spot following No. 1-ranked CBS Radio service.
Ando Media was acquired by Triton Media Group in September.