Study: Radio Holds More Than 92% Of Its Lead-In Audience During Average Commercial Break
September 21, 2006 at 4:29 PM (PT)
Radio ratings data from ARBITRON’s Portable People Meter and commercial occurrence data from MEDIA MONITORS indicate that the lowest rated minute during an average commercial break is 92% of the size of the audience before the spots began, according to a new study by ARBITRON, MEDIA MONITORS and COLEMAN.
"What Happens When the Spots Come On: The Impact of Commercials on the Radio Audience" is the first in a series of studies on the radio audience behavior during commercials using "passive electronic measurement," both for audiences and for commercial occurrences. According to the searchers, the study dispels the mistaken belief among advertisers, agencies and radio executives that radio loses a considerable portion of its audience during commercial breaks.
After analyzing 93,876 radio commercial breaks from NOVEMBER and DECEMBER 2005 in HOUSTON comparing the audience level for each minute of a commercial break to the audience for the minute before the commercials began, ARBITRON, MEDIA MONITORS and COLEMAN found:
-- The lowest rated minute during an average commercial break in morning-drive is 94% of the lead-in audience. The high level of audience retention in the morning-drive daypart suggests greater listener engagement in the morning and substantiates the value of morning-drive inventory.
-- The audience for one-minute breaks is nearly the same as the lead-in audience (99.6%), and the lowest rated minute in two-minute breaks is 94.7% of the audience prior to the spot break.
-- The lowest rated minute during three-, four-, five- and six-minute breaks ranges from 87.7% to 89.4% of the lead-in audience.
-- Radio audience levels do not drop significantly during the third, fourth, fifth and sixth minutes of a commercial break. While audience levels are higher during the first and second minutes of the longer break, they "level off" between the third and sixth minutes of a commercial break, as many listeners return to stations toward the end of stop sets.
-- Younger listeners are more likely to tune out of commercials than older listeners. Even among younger listeners, however, radio audience levels remain very high during commercial breaks.
According to the researchers, these findings "stand in stark contrast to the perceptions of the advertiser/agency industry and even of radio broadcasters about the impact of commercials on the radio audience." In a web poll conducted by ARBITRON and COLEMAN, people identifying themselves as members of the advertiser/agency industry (200 responses) said that, on average, the size of the audience in the middle of a radio commercial break is only 63% of the size of the audience one minute prior to the start of the break. On average, respondents identifying themselves as members of the radio industry (324 responses) believe radio holds only 68% of the audience during commercials.
"This study shows that the long-held perception that listeners tune away from commercials in large numbers is simply not true. Radio does a remarkable job of holding its audience through commercial breaks," ARBITRON SVP/Marketing BILL ROSE. "Radio’s ability to hold onto 94% of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks in morning drive suggests greater listener engagement while people are starting their day and reinforces the value of advertising during radio’s prime-time."
"For years, people in the industry have assumed that many listeners change stations or turn off the radio when the ads come on, said COLEMAN Pres. JON COLEMAN. "These findings indicate that audience loss due to commercials may not deserve the hyper-focus it has received from radio programmers."