From Mary Beth Garber
EVP/Radio Analysis and Insights
Katz Radio Group
Dear Alex Pham (reporter for the Los Angeles Times):
You need to go back to your source because they misled you.
In http://lat.ms/IHEhDR you state that The Media Audit did a survey of 54,000 people in Los Angeles in October to establish the number of people 18+ many radio station and the music list service Pandora garnered in a week.
Quite simply, that isnít true.
The Media Audit did, indeed, do a phone poll of 54,000 people Ė across 611 markets, between June 2011 and February 2012, to determine overall internet radio listening. That had nothing to do with the data you published. The Media Audit did a separate phone poll for Los Angeles, of about 1500 people, to produce the September/October 2011 data to which you refer. Since it is a phone poll, it reflects self-reported data ("what I say I did", not necessarily "what I did"). The sample is so small that they are unable to break the data down more finitely than estimated total number of users in a week.
That is why advertisers and their agencies, while they appreciate broad stroke opinion information from sources like The Media Audit, use Arbitron Inc ratings to determine where to place their radio advertising dollars. Arbitronís data is gathered from a panel that replicates the makeup of a given market and it uses an electronic devise to monitor what people actually hear as opposed to what they say they heard. Arbitronís ratings for Los Angeles for October 2010 show that KIIS-FM reached more than 2.9 million adults 18+ each week, double that of The Media Auditís estimates. There are no Arbitron ratings for Pandora.
The biggest fallacy of The Media Audit data is that they compared the combined individual streams of Pandora to those of targeted, single format focused, locally programmed individual radio stations. The idea that a combination of individual hip hop, classical, rock, contemporary hits, classic hits, odd mixes or comedy playlists with no local or personal connections could ever deliver the same audience advertising environment as one single, focused local radio station is absurd. To come even remotely closer to an apples to apples comparison, The Media Audit should compare Pandoraís numbers to a station group in a given market, say Cumulus, CBS or Clear Channel. For example, in the Los Angeles market these three groups deliver over 9 million different adults 18+. Itís silly that The Media Audit didnít make that comparison.
Pandora also claims to sell virtually all its advertisers targeted campaigns using geographic, sex, age and/or music genre refinements, rending those purported Media Audit ratings even more invalid.
Of course, those advertisers take a huge leap of faith if they rely on the data Pandoraís registered users reported to target their ad campaigns. A new study by Jarain http://bit.ly/JsX4BI shows that 88% of consumers admit to giving false or incomplete information when they register for anything online.
Pandora also has to watch its back and its backyard. iHeartRadio has cut into their "suggested playlist" monopoly and now there is word that Spotify is getting set to create its own version of Pandoraí s playlist service in addition to its "create your own" service. No wonder Pandora is pulling up unpublished ratings from Fall of 2011 to try to package themselves as something they clearly are not Ė a community connected local radio station.