Expedition: Higher Shares
April 10, 2012
In the world of mountain climbing there is a condition called "summit fever," where people lose sight of everything else, including personal safety, in an attempt to get to the top.
Experienced climbers know better. They don't expect to reach the summit in a single day and understand that getting there requires careful planning.
It's no different for stations looking to move to the top of the market. Being solely focused on reaching #1 without clear and measurable goals for ratings performance could lead your expedition off-course.
An effective climb to the top requires not only knowing what you ultimately want to achieve, but also setting realistic and quantifiable goals along the way.
In today's article I'll be your Sherpa; providing insight and guidance on how to bag the summit and what kind of planning you'll need to get there.
Start with Good Equipment
With PPM, a station's daily cume (the number of different people listening each day) and daily Time Spent Listening (how long they spend with the station) are like the boots and backpack of Average Quarter Hour (AQH) share. You wouldn't get very far up the mountain without the proper gear, and you won't climb the ranker without understanding how these metrics affect your share.
Before you set out on your expedition, examine the daily cume for both your station and the competition. Yes, weekly cume is nice. It shows how many total listeners you impact over the course of a survey week. But it's the day-by-day audience that is most valuable. Put another way, listeners who are devoted enough to tune in on a daily basis matter more than someone who only listens one or two days each week.
Daily cume also breaks down the difference between where you are and where you want to be into bite-sized pieces. Compared to adding 200,000 more listeners during the week, making it to a base camp of 40,000 more listeners each day seems easy.
When it comes to building your station's TSL, the easiest way is to increase the number of times your audience tunes in (known as occasions) each day. Convincing a listener to come back later in the hour, the day, or the week is more effective than trying to get them to stay for five, ten or fifteen more minutes.
That's because, much like a climber will stop for any number of reasons beyond their guide's control -- thirst, a stone in their boot or that pesky lack of oxygen -- electronic measurement has shown tune-outs are generally beyond the control of the programmer; which is why "appointment listening" and "audience recycling" are such large buzz-words today.
Reading the Map
Now that you have the right equipment for your climb, it's time to look at the map and decide the best route to the top. As your Sherpa, I recommend establishing a series of smaller goals that are both achievable and realistic. Just as you can't make it to the top of Mount Everest in one day, if your competition has a 200,000-person cume advantage, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to close that gap in just one month.
For diary markets, the best map to use for planning your climb is a report in the PD Advantage software titled "How much additional Cume and/or TSL do I need to increase my share?"
Many veteran programmers will find it very similar to what the company Rating Point Management used to call "The Grid of Pain;" a simple graph with cume on one axis and TSL on the other. Each station in the market is plotted at the point where their cume and TSL meet: their AQH share. Think of it as a map of your climbing route.
This enables you to see where your station is in relation to the competition and makes it easier to determine what's necessary to take your ratings to the next level. Add this much cume, or this much TSL (or a combination of both), and watch the share grow.
For PPM markets, I'm excited to report Arbitron is adding a new report to PD Advantage Web, our software for analyzing monthly PPM ratings, named "Rank and Share Goals" -- that will also provide a function similar to the Grid of Pain.
Much like the way GPS changed the world of mountain climbing, this new report takes the Grid of Pain concept and adapts it in several new ways.
A programmer can pick either a rank or a share (or both) that you want to reach and find out exactly what's necessary in terms of daily cume, daily TSL and daily occasions, to get there, laying out, in easy-to-digest terms, your path to the summit.
It's the difference between telling your on-air staff "We need to be #1" and "If you can convince our listeners to tune in only two more times each day we could be a top-3 station." The first statement might make your staff feel overwhelmed, while the latter is something a host can actually focus on achieving.
With this new report, you'll be able to look at a market ranker and see the key data for each station laid out right next to their share. You'll also be able to see how many more daily tune-ins the top-5 stations generate compared to those ranked 6-10, or the gap in daily cume you need to close in order to add another share point.
Just as professional climbers spend time carefully planning and segmenting their route before heading to the summit, programmers now have the ability to calculate what it takes to stand on top of the market before setting out to get there.
Always remember to carry extra oxygen ... and good luck out there! I'll be back next month with another column and more insights to help you grow your ratings.