Listening For Days
August 20, 2013
Ever since Arbitron has been using the PPM to measure audience behavior, programmers have been focusing on occasions of tuning; how many times you can convince your audience to tune in, as opposed to how long you can entice them to stay in the moment.
That's a smart strategy because the data has shown us that listeners tune into and out of a station much more frequently than previously thought, which is driven as much by the demands of their daily life as any particular piece of station content. This has led many successful PDs to search for ways to maximize tune-ins, whether through appointment-setting, contesting, or other promotional tactics.
Recently though, we've begun looking at the subject of occasions from a new angle. What if, in addition to convincing the listener to come back again later in the day, we could also take into account the number of days someone uses the radio, or your station?
What we've found is that the number of days a listener tunes in is actually more important, from a ratings perspective, than how often they tune on a given day. Simply, the more days of listening you generate, the more daily cume you build while also giving you more opportunities to increase daily occasions which lead to higher time spent listening.
So, if we know that getting more days of listening out of our audience is paramount, what can we learn then by looking at a sample of PPM markets by demo and format, to gauge which days during the week hold the most opportunity? For today's column, I looked at the top 10 PPM markets during the Fall of 2012, and examined each day of the week (6am-midnight) to hunt for insights.
It didn't take very long into my analysis for the first major conclusion to jump off the page. Fridays are the top day for listening across almost every demographic and format.
With the notable exceptions of teens and the spoken-word format (more on both coming up), every other segment of data that I crunched showed that Friday was the #1 day for listening during the week. And, this phenomenon was not just isolated to that one day. Through the week listening tends to build on both Wednesday and Thursday leading into the Friday peak.
In general, there was about an 8% difference between the highest-ranked weekday and the lowest across both demographics and formats. However Monday ranked much lower than I would have expected. Across the four major demographics I examined (12+, teens 12-17, persons 18-34 and persons 25-54), Monday either scored 5th out of the five weekdays or, in the case of teens, dead last behind the weekend.
Source: Top 10 Arbitron PPM Markets. Fall 2012 National Regional Database. AQH Persons (listed in thousands), total market listening by day (6a-midnight).
Don't Sleep On Weekends
Now, this isn't to imply that you should just turn off the lights and save on the utility bills by running a skeleton crew on the weekends. In fact, if you're at all interested in reaching the next generation of radio listeners (today's teens), then weekends are your best opportunity.
Inside the 12-17 demographic, the top three days for radio listening occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And it's almost a chronological increase in listening during the week, starting on Monday (only Wednesday and Thursday are out of order).
Further, when I started breaking down the days of the week by distinct format groupings, those with the youngest-skewing audiences also saw the weekends rank higher on the list as compared to others.
Music vs. Spoken Word
Then, to look at listening by format, I created some groupings: AC includes Mainstream AC, Hot AC and Modern AC; Top 40 is both Pop and Rhythmic; Country is combined with New Country; Rock is a combination of AAA, Alternative, AOR and Classic Rock; Spanish includes Mexican Regional, Spanish Contemporary, Spanish Hot AC, Spanish Adult Hits and Spanish Tropical; and Spoken Word combines All News, News/Talk and Sports.
Source: Top 10 Arbitron PPM Markets. Fall 2012 National Regional Database. AQH Persons (listed in thousands), total 12+ format listening by day (6a-midnight).
What I found was, in addition to the differences mentioned above for younger-skewing formats, the other important difference is how all music listening peaks on Friday while spoken word resembles a bell curve during the work week.
In the spoken-word universe, Tuesday leads all days for listening, followed by its neighbors Wednesday and Thursday. Friday ranks third lowest, and Monday is just one spot ahead, meaning that the closer to the weekend it is, the lower the audience levels for news, talk and information.
As you set out to increase the number of days people tune into your station, keeping this information in mind will help you to fish where the fish are. Knowing which days in your market and for your format have the most listening can help you decide where to place noteworthy content and benchmarks to maximize the amount of listening you attract. And that can be a key to helping you build both short-term listening and long-term habits with listeners that will lead to ratings success.