RAJAR has invested in an on-going programme of development and innovation geared to maximising accuracy, accountability and quality of data. The digitisation of the medium has created new demands, and in response, the survey has been adapted to measure all individual listening platforms – online/apps, DTV set top receivers, and DAB Digital Radio as well as traditional analogue radio (AM/FM).
The radio industry listening survey was suspended in March 2020 as a direct result of the COVID 19 pandemic. The underlying sample recruitment method of placing diaries via face-to-face (F2F) field interviewers was withdrawn due to the imposition of social distancing rules, creating both a short-term issue but also a number of new research challenges as the pandemic continues to run its course.
Following the initial disruption, RAJAR and its research partners undertook a root and branch service review, including the assessment of all potential data-collection options. This reinforced how effective the current approach to audience measurement is when held up against the range of viable alternatives examined.
The plan to restart the service is framed around preserving as much continuity in the service as possible, making the necessary adaptations to resume quickly but also incorporating change that will improve the resilience and quality of the survey whilst providing a platform for long-term further development.
All aspects of the F2F interviewer recruitment procedures have been adapted to be both COVID compliant and more responsive to the varying interviewer and public attitudes to participating in an in-person survey post COVID.
RAJAR has also adapted the existing specification design to broaden our data sources and create a flexible methodology integrating 10,000 panellists alongside face-to-face recruited respondents. The panel comprises of 7,100 people completing RAJAR diaries as well as a further 2,900 providing data gathered passively.
The passive data is collected via MediaCell, an app running on a smartphone/tablet that identifies radio stations by matching exposure to a station’s audio output. This "audiomatching" process has been used extensively for measuring broadcast media for a number of years. This passively collected data is then processed to conform to the standard quarter-hour weekly diary format, consistent with the existing RAJAR data structure.
The combined active/passive panel and conventional F2F diary components are designed to complement each other as one single integrated sample and cannot be analysed separately. Each panellist contributes up to 3 diaries per quarter (i.e. one per month); however, weighting is applied at a person-level rather than a diary-level, so a panellist counts once in any given quarter regardless of how many diaries they have submitted. For reference, the survey participants in Q3 will break down as approximately 62% F2F, 26% "active" panel and 11% "passive" panel. There are panel members in every individual RAJAR station area.
As the challenges of the pandemic hopefully recede, and the potential for in-home recruitment improves, this data collection structure will be kept under review. Over time, we expect to phase out the active panel as the volume of F2F recruitment increases to enhance our targeting of survey participants. The plan is to introduce an additional 2100 individuals to the Mediacell panel in 2022.