Targeting the PPM People: How Are They Different? (Part 1: Income Levels)
April 9, 2012
All radio users are not created equal. To succeed today, stations must maximize their appeal to those who control that success: those who wear a PPM. NuVoodoo's national study of 1000 adults 18-49 shows that there are several key differences between radio users who will agree to take the PPM and those who will not. Over the next several weeks, we will discuss those differences and how they can help stations win and change the future.
First, please bear in mind that 100% of our sample are research-receptive people: people who at least agreed to answer a few questions. Experience tells us that only about 30% of the population will participate in any research. Therefore, any information we share about "Arbitron-friendlies" should be considered in this context. We also know respondents are always quicker to agree to a theoretical question like "would you and your family members agree to wear this device?" than they are to, in fact, wear the device. So the percentages who say they will are always greater than the percentages who will in fact do so.
High-income households are much less likely to accept a PPM
When asked, about two-thirds of research-friendly respondents with household incomes of $100,000 or less say they would agree to carry a PPM, vs. fewer than half of their over-$100,000 counterparts. This is logical: in a higher-income household, the incremental value of the money they would get from Arbitron is a lot less, and therefore that benefit is less likely to outweigh the cost of wearing the devices. Now remember, while Arbitron weights its sample for age/race/sex proportionality, they do not do so for income levels. As a result, non-affluent households will have a much greater impact on your ratings success than affluent ones.
Plus: Low-income users use music for more of their day
And not all PPM-wearers are equally valuable. The higher their TSL, the more impact they will have on us. Here again, the numbers clearly favor the downscale user. 40% of respondents in households of $50,000 or less report more than two hours of music-listening per day, vs. about 31% of those in higher-income brackets. Thus, even if all income levels were equally likely to take a PPM, which they are not, lower-income users would probably have a disproportionate impact on the AQH for a music station. Now combine this fact with the fact that upper-income users are less likely to wear the device, and we have a double-whammy against the upscale user, and a one-two punch for the downscale user.
What this means to you
This strategy may sound counterintuitive, but it is a fact: targeting less-upscale listeners will actually make (our ratings, and thus) our revenues go up. The most obvious implication is that stations in obviously upscale formats will underperform "reality" in Arbitron, while downscale formats will over-perform. But it goes much deeper than this. Within your listenership, you probably have a wide range of incomes. But the upscale part of your audience will always have less proportional influence on your ratings success than the downscale part. Make sure you bear this in mind in your research, your advertising content, your media selection, your playlist and rotations, your talent content, your promotions, and in fact your overall stationality. Nay-sayers may call this "dumbing down." We call it fishing where the fish are.