Targeting the PPM People: How Are They Different? (Part 3: The "Middle Americans")
April 23, 2012
By Joel Lind
To succeed today, stations must maximize their appeal to those who control that success:Â those who wear a PPM.Â 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.Â This is the third article in our series discussing 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.Â Experience tells us that only about 30% of the population will participate in any research. Â Therefore, any information we share about “Arbitron-friendlies” should be considered in this context.Â We also know respondents are always quicker to agree to a theoretical question than to commit to the actual behavior. So the percentages who say they will are always greater than the percentages who will in fact do so.
Middle Americans Are More Willing than Others to Take a PPM
People in the Midwest are the most likely to accept a PPM, followed by people in the South.Â In the West, they are much less likely, and slightly moreso in the Northeast. The differences are dramatic.Â In the Midwest, (among the already-research-cooperative), the ratio of “yes” to “no” is about 4 Â½ to 1.Â In the Northeast, it is only 2 to 1.Â “So what?” you say, “What does this have to do my one-region radio station?”Â Well, the answer is, potentially plenty.Â Of course, it is not the fact of physical presence in State A vs. State B that accounts for these regional differences in willingness to carry the PPM.Â It is the fact that the respective regions have varying mixes of certain attitudes and lifestyles.Â The “PPM-amenable” attitudes, values, and lifestyles are most prevalent in the Midwest, and then the South, and less prevalent toward the Coasts.Â But they can be found in every market, and in almost every station’s audience.
What this means to you
We strongly suggest that you think about the “types” in your audience coalition in the same way as you might dissect your 18-24’s or your 35-44’s, as we discussed last week. Â Every station, of course, appeals to people who like its music or spoken-word content. Â But beyond that one commonality, its audience is, in fact, diverse.Â A given station’s listeners are by no means all clones of each other. They represent a variety of lifestyles, behaviors, values, “hipness,” maturity, needs and psychographics.Â And these “types” are not all equally valuable to us in ratings success.Â The data indicate powerfully that those who most resemble “Middle Americans” in their lifestyles, behaviors, values, “hipness/snobbery/squareness,” maturity, needs, and psychographics (not necessarily their opinions and other tastes) are likely to have a disproportionately greater influence on a station’s Arbitron performance.Â
Now, not all stations will have the “Middle American” type as a major part of their coalition.Â A minority of stations will target a unique, locally-indigenous lifestyle that is virtually nonexistent in regions like the Midwest. Â We are certainly not suggesting that a station like that should contort itself somehow to target “Midwest types.”Â However, within the audience for most mass-appeal formats, regardless of market location or rank, there are indeed many people who resemble “Middle Americans.” Â That probably includes your station.Â If you skew toward these folks in all your targeting choices, you should significantly increase your chances of PPM penetration among your audience.Â And consequently, achieve ratings and revenue success. Â Make sure you bear this in mind in your research, your advertising content, your media selection, your playlist and rotations, your talent content, your contests, events and other promotions, and in fact your overall stationality.