Have you heard the term "Wireless Substitution?" It's the technical way of referring to the act of dropping one's landline and going totally wireless. In radio jargon, we know at as "Cell Phone Only."
A new study by Telephia now breaks down the percent of "wireless substitution" in the Top 20 markets - and there are surprises. While you might think that a tech savvy market like San Francisco would be near the top of the list, it turns out they're at the bottom (with just 5.5% wireless-only).
Instead, it's Detroit leading the way (19%), followed by Minneapolis/St. Paul (15.2%), and Tampa (15.1%). Those of you who are working in the Top 20 will be especially interested in checking out where your city ranks.
But the bigger story here is not individual market percentages for "Cell Phone Only," but the rate of speed at which this phenomenon is occurring. Like so many other technical movements - iPods, MySpace, YouTube - things are happening fast. If you thought satellite radio was going to be the bane of radio's existence, it's more than clear that other innovations are catching on at a much higher clip, changing the way we entertain ourselves and communicate with one another.
For radio, this Telephia study is a reminder that the Arbitron world (and the research that stations continue to pay thousands of dollars for) continues to miss ample chunks of the American public. Our technologies and methodologies just can't keep up with changing media and communication habits.
While PPM will indeed change the way radio programmers, managers, and sellers interface with the audience and buyers, it will also include these "Cell Phone Onlies" as part of the panels. And that can only lead to better research.