IrelandMoves are under way to expand the Joint National Radio Listenership Research (JNLR) and provide advertisers with a more realistic breakdown of Ireland’s audio market. With on-demand brands like YouTube and iTunes ‘intruding’ into the traditional mediascape – which up to recently was the sole preserve of radio – station owners like Communicorp, RTE and UTV are anxious to fill the audience information gaps demanded by advertisers.

Speaking at the first Communicorp One breakfast briefing for agencies in the Smock Alley Theatre, Today FM chief executive Peter McPartlin said when it comes to tracking on-demand music, station owners are singing off the same hymn sheet. “But it must be done gradually,” McPartlin insisted. “JNLR is a fantastic piece of research. Having said that, there’s an acceptance the game has moved on and a willingness to include other audio.”

JNLR research agency Ipsos mrbi has been testing ideas. Podcasting trends are tracked but not to the extent industry interests would like. For instance, Today FM increased its podcasts last year and averaged 240,000 a month, which was not reflected in JNLR reports. “But as it is, JNLR is the only way we can make money – it’s the industry currency, without which we’d all be goosed,” Mr McPartlin said.

A former agency director, McPartlin said there’s a perception that conventional radio has lost its way, which is wrong. Truth is the first casualty of war and the obsession with JNLR feeds a frenzy of PR four times a year where no one seems to lose and there’s more pointed arrows than at General Custer’s last stand.

In a top line study of listeners, 89pc of Today FM listeners said they do most listening through FM radio, compared to 85pc of Newstalk and 75pc to music station TXFM respectively. YouTube is still the most popular choice for sourcing on-demand music, followed by iTunes, Spotify and Shazam. Playback listening continues to grow and US crime podcast Serial has sparked a trend of ‘binge-listening’.

Guest speaker Judith Spilsbury from the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) in the UK began her talk with a quote from David Bowie: “The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years. Music itself is going to become like running water.” By that, Spilsbury meant music is everywhere. But given the water charges in Ireland soon, her analogy was about as sound as her accident-prone AV show.

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By Expat