Burns Study Finds Women Listen More When They Feel 'Listened To'
Alan Burns Provides Exclusive Commentary For All Access
July 13, 2012 at 3:49 AM (PT)
Radio stations that give their listeners effective ways to express their opinions have a significant advantage according to research released TODAY (7/13) by ALAN BURNS AND ASSOCIATES.
The company’s release TODAY of the initial data set from its 2012 national study of female radio listeners revealed ways to identify and appeal to heavy listeners, and CEO ALAN BURNS said, "the differences between heavy and light listeners are not demographics -- they're psychographic. And the number one difference is that heavy listeners are nearly twice as likely (86% more likely) to appreciate feeling that their opinions matter."
If you make your listeners feel their opinions are important, youâ€™re becoming more appealing to two crucial kinds of people: heavy listeners, and likely Arbitron sample members.
Knowing that one's opinion matters is also a prime motive for women who cooperate with ratings surveys, says BURNS, "so a radio station that solicits listener opinions, and gives its listeners the sense that they’re being listened to, is going to be more attractive to both heavy radio users and likely ratings respondents. But very few stations do a good job of it."
Other major characteristics of heavy listeners are a tendency to like air personalities and morning shows, feel very understood by at least one radio station, and spend more time in their cars than lighter users, according to BURNS.
The BURNS presentation also revealed that it’s easier to identify likely ratings cooperators in diary markets than in PPM metros, and that 13.4% of women, up from 8% last year, now listen to AM or FM radio on their cell phones virtually every day.
The results of BURNS AND ASSOCIATES' third national study of female radio listeners are being released in a series of four webinars presented by TRITON DIGITAL. The next webinar will cover the radio industry’s digital efforts and competitors, and is scheduled for next THURSDAY, JULY 19, at 3:30p EDT. To register for the free webinars, click here.
Alan Burns' Exclusive Commentary For All Access
"Our annual studies of women continue to both surprise me and provide insight," said BURNS. "Last year we saw what I felt was a disappointingly small percentage of women tuning in to radio before leaving home in the morning. We decided to probe a little deeper into that this year because listening to radio at home in the [morning] correlates very strongly with heavy usage of radio in general. Women who turn on a radio while still at home in the morning wind up being both heavy listeners to morning radio and to radio overall. They listen to twice as much total radio, and heavy morning listeners account for 90% of all quarter-hours between 5:30 and 9a."
"So we asked women who don't listen before leaving home, why not? Two thirds of them said either 'I don’t have time' or 'It just doesn't occur to me'", added BURNS, who asked, "Are you kidding me? How much time does it take to turn on a radio? So don't take that answer too literally; what she's really saying is 'it isn't important enough' -- after all, people almost always make time for things they consider important. Taken together with 'it doesn't occur to me,' what most women are saying is that we just aren't grabbing their attention and interest. We aren't giving them enough compelling reasons to turn us on. As a result, radio's leaving as much as five quarter-hours per person, per morning, on the table. We can do better."
BURNS also asks, "Did you know that about four times more women wake up to a cell phone alarm than to a clock radio? Most station apps have alarm features in them, but I don't hear morning shows promoting that. But there are television stations that are doing it: 'Wake up with the alarm on your TV5 cell phone app, we'll give you all the information you need to start your day."
What formats are growing and declining? BURNS said, "Mainstream Top 40 continues to be a monster, and the big growth format with women right now is Hot AC. Rhythmic Top 40 continues to fade, but Mainstream AC is holding its own. Our data was collected in MAY, and Top 40 and Hot AC stations are seeing huge JUNE's in the PPM markets released this week. If you aren't (yet) seeing these trends in your market, keep in mind that there are significant regional differences, and that perceptual measurement (this stuff) always precedes behavioral measurement (ARBITRON). Plus there's the tendency for online interviews, which ours are, to generate data that precedes other forms of perceptual research."
BURNS notes, "Attitudes toward air personalities haven't changed, which is good, but if you’re having trouble motivating someone on your staff -- say, a morning show -- to get to the point quickly, here’s some data you can use in your next meeting: 46% of women like air personalities and think they enhance their listening experience; 35% can take or leave them (presumedly based on what the jock is doing at a given moment); and 19% actively dislike air personalities. What that means is that just under half of the audience might give you the benefit of the doubt and wait to see where you’re going before hitting the button... but for the other half, you better be interesting, right now or they’re gone. Exactly what we observe in PPM data."
"Speaking of PPM," adds BURNS, "our last two samples combined have included almost two hundred women who have kept a listening diary or carried a listening meter. These women tell us that the big reasons they cooperate with ARBITRON are 1) for the cash and other rewards, and 2) because they like feeling that their opinions matter. Thus it would make sense not only to offer cash and other rewards via contests on your station, but also do things to help win the loyalty of listeners who like to express their opinions."
Continues BURNS, "There's another strong reason to demonstrate interest in your audience's opinions: the biggest difference between heavy radio listeners compared to light users is that the heavy consumers of our medium are much more likely to want to be understood and to feel that their opinions matter. Thus, if you make your listeners feel their opinions are important, you’re becoming more appealing to two crucial kinds of people: heavy listeners, and likely ARBITRON sample members!"
"We used our data on ratings cooperators to answer another question: can you 'find' likely diary or meter-keepers for research or marketing purposes? said BURNS. "Without going into the math, it looks like the answers are that:
* People who say they're 'very likely to' keep a diary if asked are indeed very likely to keep a diary.
* But people who tell you they'd be very likely to carry a meter are much less likely to actually do so. Far more than half will tell you they’re likely; however, far less than half will actually do it.
" While we all know people who've accidentally (or otherwise) 'found' actual ARBITRON respondents," said BURNS, "the likelihood of finding an active, current one if you're looking is very low: Only 5% of the women we’ve talked to have ever, at any point in their lives, kept a diary or carried a meter. Respondents who are currently active will be a tiny, tiny fraction of that".
BURNS concludes, "Next week's data release focuses on radio's digital efforts and competitors, and has some very surprising (and good) news in it. We'll answer questions like 'Is PANDORA hurting us,' 'What's going to happen when more cars get Internet access' and 'How can we drive more traffic to our website?'"