The End Of Measurement As We Know It?

Andrew Green


In 1930, Archibald M. Crossley persuaded a group of radio advertisers to sponsor a revolutionary new research technique: a sample-based system of telephone interviews to measure, on a continuous basis, people's recall of their home radio listening behavior. Crossley had already tested the technique for Eastman Kodak a year previously and had generated wider interest.

With such a service, advertisers could finally get some idea of the value they were receiving in return for their investment in the fledgling medium which circulation returns had long provided in the print arena.

According to Hugh Malcolm Beville Jr., since this first syndicated broadcast research survey 72 years ago (readership surveys had been pioneered several years earlier in England), the general principles of the ratings survey field had changed little: (1)

  1. 'Services are owned and operated by private entrepreneurs.
  2. They are syndicated to as many users as possible in order to spread costs.
  3. They use sampling procedures, whatever technique is used to collect audience data...'