BRC RAM opens up the world of radio to broadcasters and advertisers

By Clare O’Neil, BRC CEO

Following an open tender process, the BRC appointed TNS as its research company to run the BRC RAM (radio audience measurement) programme. From the outset, and during the set-up phase, the BRC and TNS worked together with a single purpose: to design, build, and test a bespoke radio survey which will capably and transparently deliver fresh data for the broadcasting, advertising, and marketing industries.

To this end a new format has been established and months of intensive work have gone into ensuring that the new measurement instruments are effective and capable, all of which has culminated in the new BRC RAM.

The BRC will release transparent, stand-alone radio audience survey data four times a year based on six months’ worth of data collection, which began from 7 January, 2016.

So, what’s new?

The BRC’s fresh and honest approach has signalled a new era in radio audience measurement for South Africa, seeking to accommodate the unique and (more importantly) diverse South African market, while raising the bar on how the needs of the radio broadcasters and advertisers will be met.

To achieve this an improved survey was required, one that is multiplatform, intuitive, and respondent-friendly across all walks of South African life. As such this new tool collects the most accurate data across different geographies and locations, across different languages, and across different socio-economic landscapes.

Essentially, the new survey tool consists of two elements:

  1. A placement interview: to collect information about each individual in the household, as well as about the household itself.
  2. A radio diary: To collect radio listening for all Commercial and Community South African radio stations and to ensure accuracy and transparency only those diaries which have been properly completed are included.

A fresh take on sampling

Nothing mires a survey quite like outdated sampling, which is why a rigorous sampling approach was demanded in order to deliver a fresh sampling frame.

The sampling approach therefore includes:

  • An increased survey sample: 30 000 households (which is a 20% increase from the standard 25 000), achieving a 9% overall improvement in precision.
  • Improved interview scope: employing comprehensive interviewer training to ready interviewers for fieldwork. Further, interviews are conducted continuously 50 weeks of the year in all area types and provinces, thereby covering all periods in a year and ensuring consistent and stable
  • ‘Household flooding’: placing diaries with every individual in each household over the age of 15, which amounts to around 70 000 individual diaries a year.
  • Widespread measurement: using IHS, who delivered the master sample frame and provide annual population updates, including latest boundary information, adds further dimension to the quality of the sampling and weighting, and therefore, the data itself, especially given the fluid migration patterns (both rural-urban and intra-urban) in South Africa.

All new measures for the better

BRC RAM is a brand new currency with new measures, each of which is part and parcel of the BRC’s vision to deliver the most comprehensive, transparent radio audience survey.

These measures include:

  • Quality assurance: the highest priority for the survey is to ensure that every element of the programme is transparent.
  • Improved accuracy: the diary was thoroughly tested and will deliver greater accuracy in terms of station listening, especially as respondents are able to enter up to three stations in any quarter hour and record shorter periods of listening.
  • Improved design: the diary is well designed, carries clear instructions for completion (making it easy to use), and personalised so all the stations that individuals listen to are pre-listed.
  • Innovative: for the first time, the locations of listening, as well as each device used per occasion, will be collected.

From the ease of use and comprehensive transparency measures to the new reach and rigour, the new approach of the BRC RAM survey has opened up a door to worlds hitherto unexplored, providing broadcasters, advertisers and marketers with the information that they need to chart their way forward in a constantly changing broadcasting environment.

All signs point to the exciting times ahead for broadcasters and advertisers alike in the radio industry.

The launch of the ALL NEW BRC RAM dataset (January – June 2016) is scheduled for 25 August, 2016.