June 1, 2015
Any PD who’s worked long enough in a library-based format has a few horror stories connected with an auditorium music test or AMT.
Maybe it’s the group of respondents walking across the hotel parking lot chatting happily, having carpooled to the test â€¦ or those same respondents in animated conversation throughout the test. They may have been friends who’d referred one another to the field service or, worse, they’re veterans of so many research studies together that they’ve become close friends.
Maybe it’s you or a field service representative pacing frantically from the meeting room to the parking lot or trying to keep respondents happy while you wait long past the appointed starting time â€¦ in the hope that more people show up.
Maybe it’s a traffic jam or bad weather that caused a light turnout or cancellation.
Maybe it’s something more exotic, like:
- A group of respondents finding the hotel bar during the break halfway through the test and coming back to the room better than half in the bag.
- Or a respondent who brought a 6-pack with him to the test.
- Or a respondent with a Seeing Eye dog.
- Or a respondent who can’t read or write.
- Or a respondent who went into labor.
- Or a sound system having an awful hum or buzz.
- Or a CD or MP3 player that skipped or stuttered or just failed.
- Or no one brought the hook tapes or CD’s or MP3 file.
- Or a breaking news item distracted respondents or caused them to leave.
- Or a meeting room being too hot or too cold.
- Or burned popcorn in the hotel bar causing the entire hotel to be evacuated, including the meeting room where the test is being conducted.
- Or a competing station handing out T-shirts and bumper stickers to respondents who are entering a hotel for your test.
All of those things really happened at auditorium music tests. But, none of them are the worst things that happen with AMT’s. Because the worst things that happen with AMT’s are the things you don’t see or don’t notice. The independent recruiter (hired by the field service hired by your research vendor) who skirts the screening questionnaire, “You listen to WXXX an hour a day, don’t you?” Or that the database used by the field service represents a radius around their office and the people who’ll eventually come to your AMT are those who also happen to live near the hotel where the test is being conducted.
Back in the day, the AMT was a reasonable way to test hundreds of songs using one set of respondents. There was no practical way to get a respondent to listen to 600 hooks on the phone. So, even in the heyday of the AMT, some programmers preferred to use up over a dozen weeks of callout tests to research their library.
But, as the Internet has become ubiquitous, we think it’s smarter to use properly-screened online samples to have respondents rate AMT-sized lists of hooks using their computers or tablets or smartphones.
- No moderator travel â€“ not even a moderator.
- Respondents represent a proportional distribution around the metro because there’s no field service and no hotel meeting room to go to.
- No set meeting time to disrupt their life; they have a window of days in which to complete the interview when it’s convenient for them.
- We compensate respondents to take the interview, but skip paying for them to have coffee or cookies (remember when we used to serve them a meal?).
- No low samples because of traffic jams or bad weather.
- No worries about respondents with small bladders; if they need a break, they click a button and they get an email with a link to resume where they left off.
Decades of AMT’s have left us with war stories to fill a book, but technology has rendered the methodology obsolete. The AMT: may it rest in peace.Did we mention the time that no one from a station remembered to orderany hooks?