Pandora Internet Radio doubled its younger listeners in Atlanta over the past year, according to data compiled by Edison Research on behalf of the company.
In any given 15-minute period, the data suggests,, one percent of 18 to 34 year olds were using Pandora from 6 a.m. to midnight. That’s up from 0.5 percent in January, 2011.
This aggregate 1.0 rating suggests a comparable total audience in that demographic to that of V-103, Atlanta’s No. 1 station.
But is this a fair comparison?
Arbitron, which measures traditional AM/FM radio listening (along with individual station online listening), said this is not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison. Pandora’s information is effectively self reported. Arbitron is an outside firm that is not owned or operated by any radio company.
In a paper Arbitron released last year, it also questions the self-reported demographic data compiled by Internet radio companies as well as the reliability of the data itself.while touting its own people meter methodology as more accurate.
Still, Pandora is the most popular on-line source for music listening that is somewhat like radio, according to another study by Triton Digital. (Pandora will create a “radio station” just for you based on one song or artist, and you can refine the playlist as you go along. And while you can skip a certain number of songs per hour, you cannot request specific songs. )
Pandora is well ahead of “I Heart Radio,” a compilation of hundreds of Clear Channel Radio stations including local ones such as WGST-AM, 94.9/The Bull and Project 9-6-1. It also includes a Pandora-like custom station option, which is free at least until April.
Another measure: 23.2 percent of 18 to 34 year olds in Atlanta gave Pandora at least five minutes of its time in a given week, the Edison survey said. That’s up from 13.4 percent a year earlier. Of the 11 markets measured, San Francisco had the highest “cume” of 27.8 percent.
You can read Pandora’s press release here.
Jon Sinton, an Atlanta radio consultant who helped start Air America nearly a decade ago, read this item and told me his thoughts:
I’ve worked with Edison through the years and they are top drawer researchers. I think it is unfair to characterize their Pandora numbers “self-reported.” They represent an important intermediary between the company and listeners, and in my judgment, would not release numbers they didn’t generate independently.
Finally, I don’t blame Arbitron for trying to muddy the waters, but Internet radio metrics are empirically sound measures of session starts and length. It remains true, however, that the smartest passive ratings technology isn’t inside the user’s head, therefore neither Arbitron nor any of its online competitors can tell us more than whether the radio/computer/mobile device was on, and what it was tuned to, not if anyone was paying any attention to it!
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk