07/29

The NAB has hurt my feelings

Evidently the NAB didn’t like my survey about behaviors among folks who have mobile phones and may also have FM built-in, whether they use it or not (and most don’t).

Let’s dig into their official late Friday response:

While Mark Ramsey argues there is little consumer demand for incorporating radio receivers on cell phones, he bases his glass-half-empty conclusions on a poorly designed survey to fit his own pre-conceived negative opinion.

I don’t know, does the question “does your phone have FM radio built-in?” sound poorly designed to you?

What about the question “Do you use FM radio on your phone nearly every day, a few times a week, once in a while, or almost never?”  Does that one sound poorly designed to you, too?

Should I have used more flair?  Should I have asked “is that your final answer?”

Those questions strike me as pretty specific and direct.  Then again I’ve only been writing and interpreting research for 25 years which is 25 years longer than the NAB.

In fact, my piece was quite even-handed, or as even-handed as the answers allowed.  As for my pre-conceived negative opinion, I’m sure glad the NAB lacks a pre-conceived positive one!

Predispositions aside, I make my living by playing the hand consumers deal us, not the one we wish to be true.

More from NAB:

Ramsey’s survey trumpets the claim that 57% of those people with FM chips on their cell phone almost never used them. Even if the survey was given credibility, that still suggests 43% of folks with radio-enabled cellphones actually enjoy that feature.

No it does not, Mr. NAB research interpreter-extraordinaire.

I don’t ask about “enjoyment” at all, in fact.  Put those glasses on when you read the pie charts. 24% of the folks who have FM built-in said they use the feature “once in a while,” 14% said “a few times a week,” and 5% said “nearly every day.”  If you want to view that as a pretty picture, have at it.

And besides, are you denying my survey credibility or granting it credibility? Please decide!

His conclusions about consumers’ satisfaction are hard to take seriously, however, as he bases his claims on 164 responses taken from an already small sample of 1,346 people surveyed. No reputable polling firm would consider this a legitimate cross-sampling of the U.S. population.

Really, is that sample small?  I’ll remember that when my ratings fluctuate madly due to one or two PPM panelists.

When a true examination of people’s attitudes towards radio-capable cellphones is conducted, the facts are simple: the more that Americans hear about the benefits of listening to radio on mobile devices, the more they want the service.

Ah, “attitudes.”  Yes, those are much more accurate than “behavior.”  Just ask your teenager if his attitude is that he is going to clean his room today.  It’s much better than checking to see if he actually did it.

Just last year, for example, NAB commissioned a Harris poll of 2,587 people and found that only 8% of Americans had radio capability on cellphones. A whopping 73% of poll respondents, however, said it was important to have a radio built into their cell phone.

So important that they don’t generally buy the cell phones that have radio built in. And don’t tend to use it when they do.

Every week, more than 260 million Americans tune in to free and local radio, and that number is growing. With this many fans of broadcast radio, they should at least be given the option of listening to local news, weather, sports and entertainment on their cell phone and have a chance to stay connected to their community.

Or…they should get whatever they want.  And the great industry called radio should give it to them – however they want it.  For the benefit of our industry, our clients, and our consumers.

This is really quite silly, NAB.

Here’s an idea:  Rather than obsess on any single issue, enable and facilitate the growth of radio and what radio represents across platforms.  Help us increase our mind-share with our audiences.  Help us gain relevance in more areas of their lives.  Help to make us better and help to make our audiences happier.  Help us meet the needs of our advertisers and our consumers in new ways.

There’s nothing wrong with building FM into mobile phones.  Go ahead, build ’em!  As I said in my piece, some new listening is obviously better than none.  I would be a fool to think otherwise (and before you ask, I’m no fool). What’s wrong is if we view that as the answer rather than a small part of the answer to the challenges and opportunities facing radio.

Building for that future on the audience’s terms.  Helping radio to create and leverage new opportunities in a fast-transforming media world.  That’s my mission.  And it’s the mission of every single one of my friends and clients in this industry.

I think it should be yours. too.

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