Is any­body lis­ten­ing?

The UAE is fi­nally get­ting a ra­dio au­dit, mean­ing ad­ver­tis­ers and broad­cast­ers alike can tell who’s tun­ing in – and tar­get them bet­ter.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - By Austyn Al­li­son

A ra­dio-au­dit­ing pro­gramme has been launched in the UAE, and will go live in the sec­ond half of 2017.

In mid-April, an es­tab­lish­ment sur­vey was be­gun, polling 18,000 peo­ple to un­der­stand the de­mo­graphic break­down of the mar­ket and help guide how a sam­ple should later be set up.

That sam­ple will be “in the high 2000s,” says Steve Smith, the out­go­ing chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Dubai broad­caster Ara­bian Ra­dio Net­work (ARN). “There will be four sur­veys a year. This is the beauty of it: it will be deeper than any data that is avail­able in the mar­ket right now. It will be seg­mented more clearly on un­der­stand­ing the broad eth­nic com­mu­nity here.” This means that me­dia buy­ers will be able to pur­chase slots tar­get­ing much more spe­cific groups, ac­cord­ing to na­tion­al­ity, age, gen­der, and specifics such as whether they plan to travel in the next six months.

Broad­cast­ers from across the Emi­rates, ma­jor clients and agen­cies came to­gether to help steer the ini­tia­tive. Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers ran the ten­der process, which be­gan in De­cem­ber, and has ap­pointed Nielsen to con­duct the es­tab­lish­ment sur­vey and the on­go­ing ra­dio mea­sure­ment sur­vey. PWC will in­de­pen­dently au­dit the re­sults.

The re­sults will not just ben­e­fit me­dia buy­ers look­ing for bet­ter tar­get­ing, says Smith. “Ra­dio au­di­ence mea­sure­ment is not just for com­mer­cial return, though it’s a mas­sive com­po­nent of it. It also en­ables us to pro­gramme a whole lot bet­ter.”

For ex­am­ple, he said: “I may have an an­nouncer who is do­ing evenings on Al Ara­biya at the moment, who we’re not aware has a huge fol­low- ing. We don’t know. We can see it through a so­cial con­nec­tion, but now you’ve got real data, and that’s the term I want to use: it’s real.”

Smith es­ti­mates ra­dio takes 3 per cent at best of ad­ver­tis­ing spend in the UAE. How­ever, he pre­dicts that this could rise to as much as 7 per cent within a year off the back of the au­dit’s abil­ity to demon­strate how many lis­ten­ers ads and pro­gram­ming are reach­ing, and who those lis­ten­ers are.

Smith stood down as COO of ARN last week, to be re­placed by fel­low Aus­tralian Greg Wor­thing­ton. The ra­dio au­dit and the launch of Un­lockd (see page 6) are the lat­est de­vel­op­ments he has helped bring to the UAE’s ra­dio mar­ket and to ARN, which was home to eight brands when he ar­rived eight and a half years ago and now boasts 20.

Pro­gram­ming aid: the au­dit will help broad­cast­ers know who is lis­ten­ing and when

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