Why It's So Hard To Connect Your Radio Station's Internet Strategy To Its Ratings
March 10, 2015
I hear this question all the time: "We're very active on Facebook and Twitter, but how do I get that to impact the ratings?"
Even radio stations that are blogging, emailing, and texting have trouble identifying a noticeable effect on their ratings. Why is this?
There are two problems:
- First, the Nielsen ratings use a relatively crude methodology. It's just not very good at accurately measuring how many people are listening to your radio station. See my last column for a comparison of Nielsen ratings and Google Analytics.
- Second, even if the Nielsen ratings could accurately measure radio listening, it would still be nearly impossible to connect that listening back to online activity. Why? Because there's a hardware gap. Radio listening — at least the kind that Nielsen is most concerned with — happens on a radio (usually in the car). All of the other online activity happens on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Software analytics can bridge the gap between different devices connected to the web, but they can't bridge the gap between an online device and an old-fashioned car radio.
This is why it's so hard to measure the impact of your online activity on your ratings. Nielsen's shortcomings and the hardware gap essentially reduce it to a big guessing game.
So what is a radio station to do?
I'd love to tell you that there's a magic bullet to solve this issue, but there isn't. The best thing you can do is develop a comprehensive internet strategy that incorporates radio while recognizing and minimizing its shortcomings in the analytics department.
But what does this actually look like?
In short, this strategy would create a virtuous cycle: Use the radio station to drive people to the website, where you can capture listener's contact info (and perhaps monetize them). Then, use that contact info to drive listeners back to the radio station, and hope that Nielsen picks up on them (so you can monetize them).
Here's a simple example:
Your afternoon DJ promotes a contest on the air to win tickets to go to Disneyland. He explains that to enter, listeners should go to WKRP.com/disneyland and fill out the entry form or text the word 'Disneyland' to the number 55555.' Now your station has captured contact information from all of the entrants.
The next step is to use that contact info to drive these listeners back to the station. Send your listeners an email promoting your upcoming Beyonce interview, your A to Z weekend, or your Keith Urban meet-and-greet.
The idea here is that it's a two-way street; it's just easier to accurately measure the traffic going down one side of the road than the other. So while the radio industry lobbies Nielsen to install better traffic meters — or abandons Nielsen altogether in favor of a better solution — use both sides of the road. Implement a comprehensive internet strategy that allows you to measure what your station is doing.
Need help? This April, I am offering a six-week online course for radio PDs and GMs that will show you how to align all of these elements — including your website, social media, email, text messaging, analytics, and more — into a comprehensive strategy to grow your audience.
NEXT STEP: Get the Details of My Online Course.