Monday, January 14, 2008

Radio Ratings Part 1: Hooperrating

In the 1940s it was about the Hoopers and the C.A.B. system (also called "Crossley". Those were the ratings reports of the C. E. Hooper Company and Cooperative Analysis of Broadcasting Company. There was no Nielsen. There was no Arbitron. There was only Claude Ernest Hooper and Archbald M. Crossley. Let's talk about the Hoopers....

Hooper was born in Ohio, but went to college at Amherst. He followed that up with a brief tour of duty and then went to Harvard earning an MBA in 1923. He sold advertising for the Harvard Business Review and then went on to work for Scribners. he became familiar with the market research available for print media, but in his mind it made the lack of such data in broadcast media all the more glaring. More here.

Hooper started his own advertising agency called Clark-Hooper where he met George Gallup. Yes that Gallup. He was further exposed to methodology and marketing data. Gallup helped them design and execute their first survey. In 1938 Hooper and Clark split the company in half. Mr. Montgomery Clark took their print research division with him leaving Hooper with radio. They dissolved Clark-Hooper and founded the the C. E. Hooper Company was founded. Hooper hired 120 Hooper field people in 32 key cities to do phone surveys. They managed approximately 3,000 calls per hour during the broadcast they were surveying. That feat is probably impossible today after the advent of the "do-no call list." They asked only four questions:
1. Were you listening to your radio just now?
2. What program did you listen to?

3. Over what station do you listen?

4. What advertiser puts on that program?

The resulting data was very basic. He treated the total results as a random sample and produced a "hooperating" A hooperrating of 10 meant that 1 in 10 households was listening to the program. Seems simple compared to the complex breakdowns we use today: TSL, Cume, dayparts, racial demographics, age brackets... It almost seems naive. But at the time the information was revolutionary. If one program had more listeners than another then the networks had a basis to charge more for spots.Hooper hated CAB. He attacked them continually, even hiring a Columbia professor to do a study critical of their methods. But it worked. In 1946 CAB was in such dire straights that Hooper was able to buy them out becoming the total dominator of the ratings industry. In the late 40s Hooper made some big moves on TV ratings as well, but really lost that battle to Nielsen. In February of 1950, he sold out to ACNielsen for $600,000. More here.