Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cell Phones - Research and the Elections

As we wade through the endless stream of political spots on every media with all their accusations there is another story behind this fall election in the U.S. that could be a major factor.  The telephone based polls that candidates and the media has used to track the public since the 40s could end up being very mis-leading.

Nearly every analysis of the polls shows a Republican leaning wave moving the House and maybe even the Senate to a Republican lean.  But, those polls are mostly done on by calling land line households since reaching out to cell phone users for research is costly and difficult. The national polls are more likely to use cell phone households, but on the local and state level it's still pretty costly and not used that much.  Much of the polling data being analyzed for this mid-term election could be off the mark.

In radio we know the cell phone only households and their effect on research.  For years we've struggled with incomplete data in the under 40 age cells and watched our samples decay.  Arbitron and Nielsen have both retooled their sample systems and now do a better job including cell phone households.  Still, we struggle with not enough cell phone sample, but at least we have a little more accuracy.

The Pew Center has reviewed the cell phone only households for the political polls and released the following data:

You can see that the Cell Phone only households are more likely to lean Democratic changing the pools by around 2 percent.   When you factor in that most research has a 3-5% variance and then add the 2% Democratic lean many of the Republican margins could suddenly be a lot closer than expected.

Could we see an election here where polling is suddenly in question?  Much like the famous Dewey - Truman election in the late 40s where polling predicted Dewey would win.  Back then phones were not in all households and when the non-phone households voted the polls were suddenly skewed.

We have relied on phone based research for nearly all our data on the audience over the years.  This fall we may see in a big way that the phone is flawed.  Cell phones, VOIP, Skype and so many other ways of personal communication have made the land line a thing of the past.  We - and the politicians - can't rely on it anymore for data on the audience.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Summary on Millennials

In our series in Millennials (or Generation Y) we have to realize the impact this generation will have over the next 10-20 years as they all hit the 25-54 demo.  This generation is larger than the Boomers and look at the impact that generation had from the late 60s through the mid-90s.  The Boomers were a lot bigger than the 'silent generation' or the World War II babies so their impact was magnified.  But, the Millennials are still a bigger group and they also have a revolutionary quality like the Boomers.

Boomers saw mass communication and world travel become common place.   Television, Radio, Telephones, Interstate roadways and jet travel made the whole world accessible.  Boomers also went to college more and had higher levels of education.

When you look at the Millennials they have a huge revolution in communication that dwarfs the old analog media.  They can  travel the world on their laptops, communicate with anyone they want in a variety of ways from email to text to voice to video to chats to social media.  The combination of their population size and the huge leap in communication technology is already pushing us into a revolution moving at the speed of Moore's Law (the speed of computer processing doubles every 2 years). They are also well educated with high levels of post High School activity.

Radio can't keep brushing this generation aside.  If you worked on FM radio in the late 70s and early 80s you probably got a preview of the times we are in now.   In the mid 70s the peak of the Boomer generation was in their early 20s and just starting to fill up the 25-34 demo.  Most marketers considered this generation long hair youth at the time and really not much of a market outside of fashion, music, beer, electronic equip and maybe cheap cars.

Through the 80s the Boomers completely overtook the 25-54 demo and turned marketing upside down.  I can remember being at a rock station and watching agency after agency turn us down even though we were starting to climb up the top 3 in 25-54 adults.  We knew it was only a matter of time till they would have to look at our audience - no matter how different they may have been.

Right now the oldest Mellinnials are turning 30 - in 5 years they will enter the 35-44 demo and completely take over 18 to 34s.  And they will be the biggest generation we've seen yet in the U.S.  The challenge we face is getting them to dial into our media and brands.  We all can see the vehicles, but getting them started seems to elude us.  It can't anymore.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tips For Reaching Millennials

Since we are on a roll with celebrating the news that the Millennial Generation or Gen Y will pass the Boomers in  population figures when the Census is published in the U.S. in a few months I ran across an article by Thomas Pardee in Ad Age.   Mr. Pardee is one of Ad Age's regular writers and you can read his analysis of the generation here

The real key to the article is his wrap up

5 tips for marketing to millennials

Be fast
For millennials, there's nothing worth saying that can't be said in 140 characters or less. It's not that they can't handle long-form pitches, they just know you can do better. So do better.
Be clever
As Nick Shore, head of research for MTV, said, "Smart and funny is the new rock 'n' roll." Millennials are set to be the most-educated generation on record, with the largest social-media platform (Facebook) having been famously born on a college campus. "With their roots in college culture, it's no wonder eloquence and timing are more prized than ever for this generation. Err on the side of overestimating the millennial -- as the Old Spice campaign shows -- and sometimes they'll surprise you.
Be transparent
Millennials may be arrogant and entitled, but they're not stupid, and they know media exists to sell them things. So rather than pretending your branded beverage isn't conspicuously placed in a TV character's hand to entice them, look for new ways to make it funny. It will ring true with them, and they'll appreciate the honesty. (Need a cue? Look no further than the deliciously self-referential "30 Rock.")
Don't "technologize" everything
By their own definition, millennials are in part defined by their use of and reliance on technology. But marketers should resist the urge to attempt to "speak their language" -- Gen Yers can smell those ploys a mile away. Remember, millennials are digital natives -- they don't use technology; they live it, and they do so subconsciously.
Give them a reason to talk about you
Millennials don't like ads, but they don't mind marketing that's non-invasive, non-interruptive and that adds something to their experience, either online or off. Whether it's a fun and timely iPhone app, a targeted high-profile event or a personalized viral-video campaign, if you want your message to resonate with millennials, give them something to talk about. And if we know the first thing about millennials, talk they will.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gen Y/Millennials - A Few Key Facts

 The last few blogs (below) have noted the size of the Gen Y/Millennials, which are now a bigger generation than the Boomers, and Radio Programmings struggle to reach this emerging force.   If we want to reach them we probably need to learn a lot more about them.  While there are plenty of articles in Ad Age and other sites on their consumer behavior one of the more in depth pieces on them came from the Pew Research Center in February 2010. Read the Pew Study here.

The Pew Study covers a lot of interesting traits for this generation in comparison to Gen X, Boomers, and the Silent Generation but a lot of the facts track their religious, political and family values sides.  While they are important traits they probably don't help us programmers get a handle on their entertainment desires.   

I pulled a few of charts that bring out some broad areas we may learn from: 
  • They are more diverse:  

  • They are less likely to be Married than the other generations in the 20s:

  • What do THEY think makes them unique?:
This is a very interesting comparison.  While we would expect that they would have Technology Use at the top and in greater numbers than Gen X the #2 unique trait is Music Pop Culture.  None of the other generations cite this trait.  Radio could play a HUGE role if we chose to dive in with them.   

  • And Just For FUN - How many of them have Tattoos:

There is a lot more to learn from the study.  For the most part they are more liberal and actually more family oriented in their values than their marriage stats would indicate - guess they are just being fussy with partners and that's probably due many of them coming from split households.

They are an interesting group that is clearly plugged into the new media and technology as a full fabric of their lives.  Their ability to communicate is very strong in their technology usage.  Communication is key to nearly all generations.   For the Boomers the 4 big communication factors were - Television, Telephones becoming commonplace in the 50s, the advent of world air travel, and radio providing a fairly common music backdrop.

Obviously radio will need to weave itself into their tech world and the new tools of communication.  But, we also have to learn who are are communicating with.    We have a ways to go here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Edison Research's Youth Study 2010

The crack team at Edison Research just released a great study of 12-24s at the NAB and online (read it here).

The study showcases the differences from 2000 to 2010 in the younger audience on a number of fronts.  We can see that they still have an interest in radio, but the wealth of new media and the smart phone world are more and more appealing to our potential future audience every day.  It's killing a lot of TSL for terrestrial radio and you can also see that the lack of interest our industry seems to have for this younger audience is damaging the future.

In the last post on this blog we broke down the population numbers that will likely become fact when the census hits in a few months.  The 15-30 year old age group will be bigger than the boomers we've relied on for audience and revenue for 30 years will be a fading demo.

While the study points out a number of great suggestions on addressing the 12-24 side of the younger demo we also need to look at the 22-34s that were also included in the Edison study.  Perhaps Edison will release more data on this group but the 1 chart they included on the types of stations they listened to back in 2000 and what they claim to listen to now:

The growth of Top 40/Hits is pretty obvious given the strength of the format and the music for the last 18 months.  Country is also on the rise with the youth movement in the format.  Other gainers include Christian, Classic Rock and even Classical.  The big losers are all forms of Rock, Rap/Hip Hop and R&B.   Also note that there are 9 shares missing in the 2010 data - that is probably due to the lower listening numbers to all radio in the decade.

When you look at the movement over the last decade in both Alternative and Hard/Active Rock to a lot more older songs in the mix and a lot less current music you probably have answered the 'why' question.   Rock formats clearly have a big challenge ahead with the under 34 audience.  It may be harder to find new music with the record companies struggling, but it's out there and somehow rock programmers need to find it.