Broadcast radio is a one to many scenario. Everyone hears the same music or talk, and in between, everyone is bombarded with the same commercials. On broadcast radio it doesn’t matter if the advertiser wanted to target males aged 18-24…every Tom, Dick, Harry and Mary hears those same ads. So what does the advertiser get? A rough guess as to how many of those listeners were actually in the desired demographic, which is topped off with another guess at how many actually heard the ad.
Why all the guesses? Because broadcast radio is measured by panels and surveys. It’s the only way to measure broadcast, but at its heart, it’s a statistical representation of the number of listeners and their demographic.
We don’t have to guess in the online streaming audio world. One-to-many exists here as well, but there are some significant differences. First, through “census based” measurement, we can be extremely precise as to the number of listeners at any time. Second, we’re not limited to the broadcast range of a radio tower because online streaming audio can be listened to anywhere.
From an advertising perspective, I could still use the one-to-many scenario with online streaming audio and send the same ad to every listener, and those listeners could be anywhere. This works great for a national account (they’re actually getting more exposure than broadcast radio can offer…no tower range to worry about). The local accounts are where the second difference comes into play. I can also send geo-specific ads to any of my listeners based on where they are when they’re listening to my station! Sure, it’s still one-to-many, but now the “many” have been targeted and counted.
If you’re Pandora or Slacker, you’re also collecting registration data consisting of gender, year of birth and zip code. Now I can send a local ad to all the men, aged 18-24, in Orange County, CA, while sending a different ad to the same demographic group in Los Angeles County! And while we’re at it, let’s send both groups our national ad…wow…the best of all worlds brought to you through census based measurement.
Here’s the final thought: want to know how many listeners we had, how many were men between 18 and 24, and how many lived in Orange County or LA? We can tell you…no guesses!