A few weeks back I posted a piece about how audience measurement issues were affecting the development of the TV Everywhere initiative being rolled out by the cable industry. As this piece indicates, similar issues are affecting online music streaming services such as Pandora.
Pandora CEO Tim Westergreen asserts that it is the lack of a “common currency” in the audio media space that is contributing to the company attracting a share of the pie of audio advertising dollars that is well below the company’s estimated 4% share of the overall music audience.
What is particularly interesting is Westergreen’s emphasis on the need for a common currency that allows for cross-platform comparisons and aggregation of audio/music listenership across the full range of relevant platforms, including computers, mobile devices, satellite radio, and terrestrial radio. As the TV Everywhere discussion highlighted, though, there are often a variety of reasons why certain stakeholders would resist a common currency, particularly if the CPMs that can be obtained on some platforms are significantly higher than the CPMs that can be obtained on other platforms.
And, as we typically see in the realm of audience measurement, the demand for the expansion or improvement of measurement systems and/or new currencies needs to be fairly widespread across the relevant stakeholders (particularly the largest stakeholders, who pay most of the freight when it comes to audience measurement services). This is in fact one of the key ways in which incumbents are able to slow the development of new media technologies, services, and platforms — by resisting the development (and by resist I mean by refusing to cover the costs) of measurement systems that could provide a more level playing field between old and new media platforms. As I discuss in Audience Evolution, we’ve seen this pattern in radio; we’ve seen it in television; and we’re starting to see it online as well.