Audiradio, in charge of measuring radio audiences in Italy, will measure “Total Audience”: Interview with President Antonio Martusciello

Audiradio is the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in Italy that, beginning January 2025 will replace TER. So many questions arise: will the JIT structure really benefit the radio industry? Will the new methodology provide audience data consistent with TER, or should we expect another disruption? What will change with an assessment that considers all modes of consumption? And what is the role of the legendary SDK? To learn more, FM-world interviewed the president of Audiradio, Antonio Martusciello.

Antonio Martusciello

Born in Naples in 1962 and graduated in Public Administration, he has always worked in the field of media and communication. From 2010 to 2020, Martusciello was Commissioner of Agcom.

He is the author of numerous articles and scientific contributions on communication: in February 2019, he published the essay “The Chaos of Information” (La Dante Alighieri publisher). In September 2019, he published the essay “The Network: Manipulation or Pluralism” (Armando publisher). In 2020, he authored a study for IULM titled “The Evolution of Political Communication from Traditional Models to New Formats in the New Digital Context,” while in 2021, he published “The Audience Measurement and Its Impact on Public Opinion Formation.”

Martusciello is a professor of “Media Law” at Luiss Rome and, since December 2022, President of the Supervisory Body of Tim’s access network. He was appointed President of Audiradio in April 2024.

The Interview

FM-World (Marco H. Barsotti): We read that ambitions of the new Audiradio are significant: measuring every device, introducing the “total audience,” the idea of shifting the focus from measuring individual stations to a “user-centric” approach. How much of this can we expect from the publication of your first surveys, and how much will take more time?

Antonio Martusciello: The new Audiradio survey will start on January 1, 2025, and to be ready for this appointment, our goal is to adopt the Request for Proposal (RFP) as soon as possible.

We are indeed working diligently in this direction. The company has just been established, but in these days a technical analysis is already underway to prepare the RFP, necessary for choosing the institutes that will conduct the survey.

A Mixed Survey

It will be a “mixed” survey, both quantitative and census-based, through the SDK, a tool that already represents a significant step forward compared to a purely declarative model.

This “hybrid” survey will better capture the increasingly pronounced trend of multi-device and multi-platform radio listening.

Listening will be measured on all devices, across all distribution platforms, and in all modes of consumption (live and on-demand). After all, today the potential audience pool expands significantly, not only thanks to technology but also due to structural changes in content consumption behaviors. In this sense, we will be called upon to choose and define the most appropriate methodologies and technologies to conduct these surveys, considering their economic sustainability. Our goal is to make radio audience research increasingly in step with market evolution.

As for timing, it is premature to estimate today; however, I believe that the commitment and intense teamwork from these early days of activity constitute an excellent start to achieving that result, which I am sure we will be able to concretely realize with timeliness and determination.

The European Context

FM-World: In the past, we have analyzed measurement systems used in other countries considered (at least at the time) more advanced: Netherlands, UK, etc… The question is whether Audiradio and its European counterparts work together in some way (formally or even just technically) to have what is fashionable to call “uniform currency” at the European level, which I imagine would be or would be appreciated by multinational investors.

A.M.: Audiradio was born on April 22 this year and is taking its first steps in organizing a survey that will see, after many years, radio broadcasters and the market working together again. It is clear that it will be in both parties’ interest to also engage technically with European experiences.

If we look at reports such as the Radio Audience Measurement by EGTA (Association of television and radio sales houses) and EMRO (European Media Research Organization), even today, at the European level, declarative methodologies are still the most commonly used, while passive systems are still being experimented with.

European Media Freedom Act

Then there is the recognition of the centrality of audience measurement systems in the complex ecosystem of digital media, which falls within the scope of the new TUSMA regulations and is attested by the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) regulation. This provides for greater transparency and comparability of the methodologies used in measurements, as well as the reference to shared standards and techniques, possibly within JIC.

The JIC and Listeners

FM-World: The advantages of the JIC structure for market operators, who are all represented, are clear. I wondered if any association of public representatives could bring additional value to your organization.

A.M.: The JIC, in the model approved by Agcom, constitutes the prevalent form of entities dealing with audience measurement and already indirectly represents the interests of listeners. This is because the system is based on what we might call a sort of “convention” between publishers and the market. In this scenario, it is the market that performs a function of guaranteeing the correct allocation of advertising where the highest audience ratings are recorded.

The SDK Issue

FM-World: Let’s move on to a point considered essential, the famous SDK. In many interviews and articles, it has been discussed, giving the impression that it is a ready-made system that you will use. But as we know, “SDK” is instead a Nielsen toolkit that allows app developers to record user behaviors and send them to Nielsen.

This implies – I believe – modifying client applications to integrate SDK libraries and activate their functionalities, potentially providing a type of reporting worthy of Google Analytics.

Two questions: first, if it is a completed process (and if so, with which operators), or if it is in progress or activation phase.

A.M.: The SDK (Software Development Kit) system is an analytical marker already used in audience measurement systems, which provides census data on the volume of online content consumption distributed through different platforms.

The system, therefore, allows for integrating measurement tools into digital content regardless of the device used for content consumption.

As I mentioned, the RFP is under analysis, and Audiradio will be called upon to make a choice on defining the most appropriate methodologies and technologies to conduct the aforementioned census surveys.

Transparency and Certification

FM-World: Second question about SDK. Since by definition what is created through SDK is an invasive system: will the libraries be embedded only in the clients of your sample or will they be included in the general tools used for listening by the general public?

A.M.: The RFP – as I mentioned – is still under analysis and I find it quite premature to define these aspects.

What I can say, however, is that transparency in the measurement processes and the guarantee of an objective, third-party-certified system are indispensable elements to ensure the credibility and reliability of the data collected.



FM-World: Last question, when  the transition from the old researches (Audiradio and GFK Eurisko) to TER took place there was a discontinuity in the data regarding the top positions, which saw for the first time Rai Radio 1 lose a historical record that it had held since forever.

It could have been a change in listeners’ tastes during that gap, but it could also have been the result of the change in sample and methodology.

  Will the data collected and presented by Audiradio be comparable to TER data or should we expect new discontinuities (or perhaps non-comparable universes?)

A.M.: TER had the advantage of continuously providing radio audience data during the period following the liquidation of the first Audiradio. The greatest criticality of TER, which led to the need for its evolution, was the MOC model, no longer compliance, as indicated by AGCom. In this regard, I would like to remind you that the TUSMA, in art. 71 paragraph 5, letter. b), provided “(…) that the surveys of the audience and readership rates of the various means of communication, on any distribution and diffusion platform, conform to criteria of methodological correctness, transparency, verifiability and certification by independent entities and are carried out by bodies with maximum representativeness of the entire reference sector (…)”.

Similarly, the EMFA, in art. 24, in particular, requires that suppliers of audience measurement systems guarantee a survey and a methodology that respects the principles of transparency, impartiality, inclusiveness, proportionality, non-discrimination, comparability and verifiability.

Today, the JIC that was formed highlights the centrality of the publishers’ front, representatives of radio pluralism in all its components (national and local, private and public). The entry of the market (UPA and UNA) marks the expansion of the corporate structure and makes it representative of the entire reference sector. A union that allows – once again – the concrete implementation of the principle of correctness of audience survey, already typical of TER’s experience.

… or continuity?

As I explained before, the need for innovation led to the choice of a new format, that of hybrid research based on a combination of sampling and census.

Our objective, therefore, is not continuity or discontinuity with the TER data, but research that, starting from the experience gained, is able to grasp the degree of innovation of the radio market. (M.H.B. for FM-World)