CLEAR CHANNEL EXPLORES MEASURING LISTENERS VIA SMART PHONES

CBS Radio, Cox Radio and Radio One Join in Test

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The battle over radio ratings is heating up. While Clear Channel is actively cooperating with Arbitron’s Portable People Meter system, which unveiled a deployment schedule last week, it’s also spearheading an experiment that uses smart phones to measure listening.

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The radio giant is the country’s largest group, with 1,200 stations, and will be joined by CBS Radio, Cox Radio and Radio One in testing the technology from media measurement firm The Media Audit/Ipsos. The test will take place in Houston. The four radio groups will encode their broadcast signals with an inaudible watermark that can be picked up by smart cell phones to report radio listening.

Pushing for passive measurement
Radio listening is currently measured by Arbitron using a paper diary system. But the industry has been pushing for a passive electronic measurement system because asking people to record their radio listening by hand often leads to an inaccurate picture of actual listening. Arbitron has introduced its own electronic passive measurement device in the PPM, a small pager-like device that its sample wears. The device, like Media Audit/Ipsos’ smart phones, picks up encoded radio signals.

The Media Audit/Ipsos test is part of Clear Channel’s exploration of an electronic measurement system that it announced last summer through a request for proposal for a new system. Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan called his company’s move to look at media measurement firms besides Arbitron a “catalyst to get results more accurately, reliably and consistently.” At the time he described the PPM deployment to Ad Age as “the longest birthing ever.”

Last week Arbitron announced it will deploy its portable people meter in Houston in July and plans to roll it out to the top 10 U.S. markets by 2008.

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