It Doesn't Matter What You Do If What You Do Doesn't Matter
June 7, 2013
By John Frost
Goodratings Strategic Service
There's a lot of chatter about the importance of listening occasions to a station's ratings performance. Teasing, recycling, placing of the spot sets, sweeping (or not) the quarter hours, and length of talk sets can seem the only chess moves in the game to achieve check mate of the Average Quarter Hour. Sometimes the discussions remind me of tinkering with the bathroom scale in order to hit a magic number, with little regard for healthy eating and regular exercise.
Arbitron Senior Vice President of Marketing Bill Rose shares an interesting perspective as he discusses the distinctions between diary and PPM markets: "
"According to PPM data, the average length of an occasion is somewhere around 10 minutes long. We also have found that many of the reasons people tune out are beyond a station's control. When the baby cries, the commute ends, or the boss beckons, listeners have to go.
Yet according to (Arbitron's) "Diary Top Performers" research, indicators state, "how long people tune in distinguishes Diary top performers more than how often people listen (number of tune-ins)."
Those two seem to contradict each other. So which one do I focus on?
The answer is focus on branding first. Strengthening your brand will help both Time Spent Listening and Cume.
In nearly all the radio cases I've seen, the strength of the station's brand is the driving factor in ratings success regardless of how a market is measured. Think of it this way: if you are the first station listeners think of....you will have a much greater chance of success. I call this phenomenon "winning the off to win the on." If you can be top of mind when listeners are not tuning in, you'll have a far greater chance of winning when they do turn on the radio. Strong brands drive tune-ins in a PPM market and in a Diary market, regardless of whether the focus is on how long they tune or how many times.
Ratings success is really about strengthening your brand and "winning the off to win the on." If you have a truly strong brand, your AQH, Cume, and TSL will take care of themselves."
The most successful stations in the format are the ones that go beyond just lining up the pieces on the Arbitron chessboard. It doesn't matter what you do if what you do doesn't matter.