Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Does the Audience HATE Advertising/Marketing?

We often ask this question in various forms as we do perceptual research and it usually comes up - THEY HATE IT. It's also a big point as we compete with Satellite and Internet stations that have no commercials or very few in the mix. But, marketing and commercials are everywhere. You can't even walk through supermarket and stare at the floor without seeing billboards for all kinds of products. Signage is everywhere, commercials pop up all the time on you computer, they are tucked into movies, and of course they are on our radio stations. Hopefully enough of them to pay the bills and make a decent buck in the end.

I recently ran across a local article on a couple of Notre Dame professors who have been tracking the public's sentiments towards marketing for around 25 years - since the late 80s. They devised a questionnaire and have been polling around 1,500 consumers by mail and tracking their sentiments towards all the marketing. The report is called the Index of Consumer Sentiment of Marketing - ICSM. Professors John Gaski and Michael Etzel have published the survey every year. It's sort of like the University of Michigan's Economic Consumer Index which is watched closely by Wall Street and the Government to track how positive or negative we feel about the economy - only this survey tracks only marketing.

Over the years the survey actually points to a 20% improvement in positive sentiments towards marketing. There have been some ups and downs. In the late 80s as Regan cut taxes the sentiment improved, but fell in the famous Black Friday in 88. Over the 1st Gulf War the sentiments declined a little, but as we got into the dot com boom the feelings towards marketing improved. The fear after 9/11 pulled up the negative side, but as we recovered it's been slowly growing more positive over the last few years. When we feel secure with our wallets marketing takes less of a negative spin.

What really pushes the negative button in their surveys are false claims, too many disclaimers, bad service whey you buy the product, and truly annoying content. While we are receiving more marketing messages from every direction the negatives come more from the content and delivery on the promises made than it does on the frequency.

In the end what really drives negatives in marketing is bad commercials.

You can read more about the ICSM here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Streaming and At Work Listening

Surely you've caught that the audience for streams from terrestrial radio stations is growing at a very healthy pace. Some studies suggest a 20% growth and that terrestrial stations are outpacing many of the Internet only streams. A lot of this growth is no doubt coming from At Work listening. Now every computer on every desk and in every shop can become a radio and tune in stations without any concerns for steel beams, other equipment and weak signals that just didn't penetrate lots of offices with our broadcast signals. Now you can tune in anyone you want on-line.

We also know the importance of at work listening. The quarter hours recorded here are 2nd only the large in-car listening levels we have for radio. It doesn't matter if you look at PPM or Diary data, at work listening is huge. It's also not just an 'AC' thing, built on having 1 radio over a group of people or in a setting where clients would stop in and where we wanted that 'soothing' AC safe music. Anyone can pop on some headphones or just keep the level comfortable and listen at their desk or shop to whatever they want. We've seen Classic Rock take huge advantage here, Country is also making in-roads, and even the Urban ACs are showing growth here. Oldies and the Jack/Adult stations also have exploited at work listening.

ONE PROBLEM. Now Arbitron has declared that the streams on the Internet are NOT SIMULCASTS. The reason lies in the AFTRA union which wants extra royalties and payments for commercials using their talent and we now block those spots from the Internet streams. Arbitron makes a case that if you were to use the data with Internet streams included to place your buy the estimates would be mis-leading as the Internet audience would not be hearing your commercial.

The REALITY IS THE CLIENT DOES have a very clear option to getting their commercial heard on both the broadcast and the stream - DON'T USE AFTRA TALENT. We have many very professional options for you to make your commercial with talent that will show up on both sides of the simulcast.

Arbitron gets most of it's revenue from the Radio Stations. Why not take our side on this? It would really help our industry stake a clear claim on the new media of Internet streaming that is getting ready to explode as wifi becomes stronger.

While I do respect AFTRA and feel that we need to do everything possible to build talent into our products and that AFTRA has clearly helped that cause - we also have to survive to employ AFTRA talent. Arbitron doen't get any revenue from AFTRA - why satisfy a customer that isn't yours. Just treat the web cast as a simulcast and give broadcasters full credit. Simple enough isn't it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Arbitron National Numbers - Rock is UP!!!

For the first time in around 18 months we are seeing Rock's shares improving in the national format breakouts from Arbitron. These are the numbers from the continuous markets (up to roughly #100) and the shares have improved from the all time lows of 7.3 (Fall 06) and 7.2 (Winter 07) to a 7.9 in the Spring 07 analysis. Active Rock was flat at a 1.9, AOR was up to a 1.9 (from a 1.6) and Classic Rock went 3.9 to 4.1 (Winter 07 to Spring 07.

For some reason Alternative has it's own format group with AAA and it was down 3.6 to 3.4 Winter to Spring. Actually we should lobby to have alternative join in on the rock subgroup here. Hispanic has a summary of all hispanic formats even though there are 11 varations. And HC has 5 different formats.

Hopefully we can expect to see these shares improve as more markets come on-line for PPM. Realize that only Philly was into PPM for these shares and we will have Houston to add in Summer and Fall. Next Winter and Spring will also showcase opportunities from New York and other markets rolling into PPM numbers and we should see rock shares improving. What would really push up the shares would be a decent return from the 18-44 Male population - it keep declining more and more with every month. Soon there will be NO ONE.

When you look at the growth of the new Clear Channel Rock station in Philly WRFF which has risen to nearly a million cume in just 3 months. With PPM we clearly see the results of a format flip RIGHT AWAY. Now Philly will likely be over 3 million combined cume for the rocks stations as WYSP converts from talk to Rock.

From 2 Rock stations to 4 in 1 summer in Philly.
Will this trend continue in PPM markets? Bet on it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

PPM or Diary - It's Time to Charge Up The Audience

#5 in our series on the realities of PPM and the diary wraps up the week with an overview that applies to both data collection systems.

No matter which system you are facing there is one constant that stands out - Charge up your audience. To get them to pay attention to your station and either recall it in the diary or to tune in more with the trusty PPM attached to their belts, or in their purse, you have to motivate them.

While the little nuances of the music mix, contests, positioning, clock placement and all the other little rules we've applied to programming may be important you have to 'move the meter.' In a world with new media innovations popping up nearly every week radio still has the resources to win by a mile. No media is more convenient, omni present and universally used as radio. PPM shows it's reach is a lot wider and stronger than we had thought from decades of diary studies. In some cases it's triple when we look at PPM cume.

The audience also listens to more stations to more stations - around 50% more than we saw in diary data. The reality of these numbers is they don't listen to all these stations as much as the one on the top of their list which drives down the TSL. Imagine you grew up an only child, mom and dad had all the time just for you - move over to a family with 5 kids and obviously mon and dad can't be at every ball game.

The way to win in either environment is to charge up your audience. We need to start making an impact with them and just lining up the most obvious good testing songs over and over, hard drived with a few cute sweepers in between making unbelievable claims probably isn't going to do it. They can do that, without the cute sweepers, on an Ipod.

Charging up your personalities, creating a real community social network with your P1 and P2 audience, looking for music that's exciting, fresh and surprising to your target audience, and being completely plugged in with the lifestyle of your target audience are the keys to winning. It takes a plan, imagination, a big effort, and talent. It also takes people to make it happen, most of the assets mentioned here don't come from a keyboard and an Internet connection.

As you get rolling into the Fall book step back for a few minutes and take a look - have you charged up your audience? We are leaning a lot from PPM that is telling us what actually happens on the other side of the speakers, not just what the audience recalls in a diary world. It is showing us that some of the realities from the diaries we thought were true about the audience are false.

PPM is also showing us that the diary is missing a lot of what is going on with the listener. While those in the diary world will have to live with the shortfalls. The hassle of changing the sample every week in a world where the database we use for building the sample is shrinking quickly from cell phones and non-participation. The audience is also hassled by the diary, writing things down in today's world in a log seams like commuting in a horse and buggy.

In the end it comes back to THE PRODUCT. Be compelling, exciting and entertaining - charge it up and it doesn't matter if it's meters or diaries you are a lot more likely to WIN. Get out from behind the computer and tweaking selector and focus on what really charges up the audience.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are Our Clocks Kookie??

#4 - In our realities that apply to both PPM and Diary markets let's take a look at our clocks.

Back in the late 70s clocks began to evolve into a pattern that was supposed to extend TSL. A very skilled programmer of the day (Buzz Bennet I'm pretty sure) studied the whole Arbitron system of recording the listening and determined that because of the organization of the diary pages and the way they granted you a quarter hour by rounding up the listening that if you waited till :17 or :20 and that was properly recorded in the diary you would get credit for 2 quarter hours. Ever since in most hours outside of morning drive we typically sweep music from :55 all the way to :17 or :20. We also take the next break (if we have 3) around :37 to insure we get a full quarter hour in the 3rd segment of the hour and the last break is usually closer to :52 or :53 ideally to cover the last segment.

While the rule is right as you look at the diary layout and the rules for crediting that grants you a full 1/4 hour after 7 minutes 2 realities stand out:
  • Not everyone is walking around with an atomic clock in front of them while entering the data. Do they really know the 'exact time' when they scribble it down?
  • Most diaries are not filled out while actually listening - but are often filled out at the end of the day or maybe on Thursday morning for the whole week.

But, we sort of pushed those realities aside and nearly everyone adapted the formula. It probably did work to a certain extent as nearly everyone still breaks pretty close to this formula and we all may have extended TSL as you punched away you often find commercials on many stations in unison. The listeners probably think it's a govt. plot.

With PPM we have real data coming in and it's all controlled by an internal clock that's probably pretty accurate. When Arbitron breaks out he PPM data the listening is nearly equal in each of the quarter hours. From :53-:08 26% - :08-:23 24% - :23-38 25% and :38-:53 25%.

Did we gain anything from all these years of setting the clocks on the Buzz standard? I bet not. I bet some brave programmer will start breaking around :10 and be able to sweep either :20 or :55 and be the only station on the planet playing music there. Don't know that anyone in a PPM market has tried - but it could happen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

#3 - TSL Realities for PPM and Diaries

In part 3 of the PPM realities we can all learn from we take a look at TSL.

#3 – Extending TSL: While the TSL is lower in PPM and higher in the diary the challenge is always the same – get more! The longer they listen the higher the ratings go. The difference in PPM and Diary TSL mostly comes from the higher number of stations the sample is listening to in the PPM world. The average diary in Houston had 2.6 stations listed while the average PPM device recorded 4.4. In Philly diaries came in with 3.6 and PPMs recorded 6.6.

Capturing more stations on the PPM will lower the average for the number of quarter hours (or TSL) spent with each one. You also lose a lot of those super heavy diaries – you know the ones with 75 or more quarter hours. In fact the decay starts with PPM at around 25 quarter hours. PPM meters don’t rely on recall and don’t get lazy and they don’t wait till Thursday morning to jot down a few stations.

If you live in the diary world you will still have to live with those super heavy listening diaries and with sample weighting they can cause the number to bounce a lot. We’ve all seen a young male who logged tons of listening to a soft AC station push their numbers way up with weighting. The next book the numbers fall apart for the AC as they ‘didn’t win the statistical sample lottery again.’

What we can really learn here is that ‘real gains’ in TSL are what we need to focus on. They come from:

Not getting off track musically. You can call it ‘playing the hits’ but a boring turnover of the same 20 high testing songs can be very damaging to TSL. It’s more about living up to the expectations that the audience has and also leading them to new worlds within their musical expectations.

It’s more about a few minutes. How many times do we launch a big campaign for 20 in a row and think they will listen for the whole 90 minutes? No problem I’ll just sit here in the driveway for another ½ hour till you’re done with song 20. Or we set up a contest with a magic song they have to hear and expect them to listen all day and be the 55th caller. Setting realistic expectations is the better way. How about a billboard within a sweep of music that sets up a big song coming in a few minutes? Building more music campaigns more on ‘overall images’ (hour after hour WACD delivers the most Classic Rock in the valley – listen and prove it to your self) – instead of 10 in a row.

Talent really matters. Compelling personalities and creative imaging between the songs no only attracts cume it also holds them. But, watch how much you use the talent and imaging. We’ve made the mistakes of too much talk from the DJs in the past and we’ve also made the mistake of pounding the audience down with sweeper after sweeper which soon becomes seen as hype. Entertain them and don’t waste their time.

The measurement systems may be different, but the tools are the same. Like a great meal – don’t under cook it and don’t over cook it. Assemble with care.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

At Work Listening - Even More Important!!!

In part 2 of our look at the realities from PPM that apply to everyone (PPM or Diary). In a recent FMQB article from Arbitron's Gary Marince he observes:

"In PPM, employed male listening is higher than female listening . . . employed males appear to have the most listening to radio. This helps explain why great Rock stations enjoy healthy ratings in PPM."

Even in the diary books we usually see the Classic Rock is #2 in At Work listening and all forms of rock do better than many expect at work. With the PPM Meter automatically recording listening, instead of relying on recall Gary feels we are seeing even more TSL from at work in PPM than we see in the diary- and he has all the data at his finger tips.

If you've ever looked at the diaries it's easy to see At Work listening with that entry at the top of the page and a squiggly line all the way down to 5p racking up 25-30 quarter hours in 1 day. It isn't quite as dramatic in the PPM as we all know that few sit by the radio all day. But, the reality is that Men work and they do listen to radio on the job. You can hassle with your MP3 or hunt for off beat Internet stations or fiddle with the satellite receiver at your desk - or just tune in the rock station we all know in the market and keep it on in the background. In the end terrestrial radio is still easier to use and more familiar.

How much effort are you putting into at work listening? 20 years ago when we began to really focus on at work there were telemarketing programs, big contests, donut remotes, and a fair amount of imaging spent on at work. Monitoring around as I travel - you don't hear as much of an effort anymore. In some markets mid-days is a daypart where we most often 'hard drive' it with the PD, VT talent or a production person doing the shift. There are some contests, but is that really the big draw? Is it more likely that the un-employed person, or very un-busy person at work - is hanging around waiting for the code word of the day?

The wiser choice might be to focus the show on the at work listener. Make sure the mid-day talent is live and interacting with the at work listener. Take a few calls, have a few features that stand out musically, but most of all make sure the talent has a vision of listener in an at work environment. The imaging should also take on an at work lean - look for drops that lean on the at work experience, copy that relates to at work moments and make sure to brand yourself as the at work station.

AC is really the last format that really works at getting at work listening. But, even there we see less effort than we saw 10-15 years ago when it was at its peak. In both the diary world (where you have that squiggly line) and in the PPM reality where you are more likely to have a longer TSL than the average 2:50 hours per week from at work listening and boost your TSL.

Monday, September 10, 2007

5 Realities From PPM That Apply to EVERYONE

We are learning more and more about PPM and the audience's actual behavior, rather than their recall of what they did, with the early data from Houston and Philly. While PPM may be a long ways from impacting your market, or it may never come, but there are some 'real world' lessons to learn. This week I'll take a look at 5 Realities From PPM - covering 1 each day.

#1 - You Reach A lot More Than You Thought: We've see nearly everyone's cume jump a lot in comparing the diary numbers to the PPM realities in both Houston and Philly. Cume numbers are twice as big in PPM and in some cases nearly 3 times the size. Your station reaches a lot more of the market's audience then we ever thought. Holding on to that listening and turning that cume into P1s is the ultimate challenge for programmers.

One thought for everyone - PPM market or stuck with Diaries forever: You're on air marketing, imaging, and promotions reaches a lot more of the market than you thought. How many times have we all felt that we didn't have enough outside marketing to grow the station? No billboards, TV or direct marketing for long stretches.

Do you really need to use other media to grow your audience? Looking at the high cume numbers we see in the PPM data suggest that you probably already reach a lot more than you thought. Look at the cume for The Buzz or Arrow (the Alternative and Classic Rock in Houston) - the Buzz is over 1 million and Arrow is close to 900,000 in most montly reports. This is in a market of just under 5 million. These stations already reach 20% of the whole market. When you consider that they are targeted stations that are not designed to reach everyone they already reach a lot more 'real potential target listeners' for their music mix and stationality than you could probably get from a billboard on the interstate. How many people will 'cume' the billboard that are very unlikely to become P1 or P2 listeners? Probably not a lot and when you consider how much the board costs!!!

The answer for programmers here is to MARKET TO YOUR CUME ON YOUR AIR. Use your imaging, personalities, and promotions to keep the excitement up. Stay top of mind more often with your cume and more may become P1s or P2s. Crank it up on the air and make it memorable or actionable with the audience. Don't just go for 'small ball' all the time - hit it out of the park and do it as much as possible. "If we only had some marketing dollars" - shouldn't be the issue. Did we capitalize on the potential between the music and with our personalities? You probably don't need to spend lots of money to reach an audience you are already talking to, unless you are a brand new product or have made improvements that are so dramatic that a whole new audience needs to tune in and hear them.

Yes exposing the product all over the place can help - but the first steps to gaining more audience is to charge up the audience you have. Entertain them and keep them excited and entertained every quarter hour.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Land Lines vs Cell Phones

Since I live by Notre Dame we get lots of local news on things going on at the campus. Let's not talk about the painful football situation, but something almost as painful. Of the 7000 students that live in the dorms they just released the figure for the number of students that requested to have their land line telephone jacks in the rooms turned on. THE NUMBER - 18!!!!!!!! We don't even need too translate that into a percentage - it's so small why bother. Of course the students use their cell phones and have no need for land lines.

How will Arbitron contact them to fill out a diary? How will we research their music tastes? How will Hillary do any polling on them for the election? They won't. Will these people get a land line when they leave school - why? And if they did why answer it?

We need a new way to gather samples. Gathering them in the mail, via email, social networks, IM them, or maybe we can text them. Up until now Arbitron and most researchers are reluctant to bring in another sample base to the mix. When you have 2-3 different ways of gathering sample it does change the universe you are working with and all the probability and stat formulas we work with suddenly become very confusing and complex. But, we need to find a way. Running around with data that only talks to the last people left with a land line - the baby boomers and seniors is not telling us the real picture. It's going to be up to us to keep the pressure on the people doing our research to seek out new ways of building the sample.

We need to talk to the audience.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Movie Industry A Model for Radio?

Now that Labor Day has passed the movie industry can tally up the numbers on a record summer and get ready to announce a record year. Over 4 Billion dollars were earned this year by an industry that has been facing even more challenges than radio or records. Think about it. For Movie theatres we've been able to watch the movies at home for over 25 years on tape, DVD, cable, On-demand and very soon we'll be able to download them. Normally you'd bet that this would KILL the old fashioned theatre. But it clearly hasn't.

The secret - great content. Instead of cutting back on the quality of movies for the most part they have invested a lot more into the quality of the films, the stories, and the performances. Instead of running away from new technology they have tried to embrace it with constant innovations in sound, digital effects, new forms of animation, and now are setting on total digital projection/distribution systems. They have embraced new distribution systems on every level even though it may cost the theatres it doesn't seem to matter. The key is great product.

They still face lots of problems. Piracy is huge and with the internet you can often find copies of films as they open. Theatres have huge competition with bigger TVs, sharper DVDs, and digital delivery is very close which will soon expand that 50 inch plasma's reach. We even have a big trend to setting up home theatres complete with popcorn machines in our homes.

Yet the magic of the movie theatre seems to live on. Just remember the KEY to all this success is CONTENT. While developing in movie product placement, selling DVDs, and protecting the rights has all helped - the investment in the products is what fuels the success.

Check out this You Tube video on the steps Movies have taken to greet the future - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uqfrp7JPr0