Trending And Technology
October 29, 2013
How Has It Changed And Why?
As our industry continues to change, Urban and Urban AC stations will find they may have to do things differently and take intelligent risks. Our formats are affected by the same things that have affected all radio as it enters a new era of electron-fast consumer interaction, format flips, ownership changes and real-time audience measurement.
First, let's take a quick look at some trends. It seems like another cycle of flux. In the long run, "Generation Joneses" tend to be more comfortable with and loyal to one station that consistently gives them most of what they want to hear. They'll stay with you unless you get way off base and stop delivering what they expect. Changing as little as two cuts an hour can radically affect the overall sound and appeal of your station.
Beyond the music, it's still important to do the basics. Proper execution should remain a constant. In some cases, a company that owns more than one station may attempt to squeeze a mainstream Urban between a Top 40/ Rhythmic and a soft Urban AC. Sometimes a new programmer must carefully attempt to devise a strategy to fit comfortably between the two.
Most Urban Adult stations never develop non-preemptive values. Their values have always been strictly music-driven. Although the imaging and presentations may have changed, many still promote "more music - less talk." Those are totally preemptive values because it's very easy for listeners to switch when their favorite station becomes too soft.
Now for a quick look at technology. We are being forced to embrace technology that we once ignored. One of the first areas this technology affects is ratings. And when we talk about ratings, naturally we're talking about Nielsen Audio. Some adjustments are necessary because of their changeover from the diary to the meter. You will also see new steps that involve refining designs and more qualitative testing. Issues will center on audience estimates in comparison to the paper diary with some immediate implementation plans. Others, like the metered call-phone, are surely on the horizon.
For example, a quick look at an address-based sample shows the phone frame is deteriorating. Cellphone number portability and Do Not Call (DNC) have experienced changes as well. Nielsen Audio must look at alternatives to the telephone frame. They have tested an address-based sample frame that they will mail to all households and call those they can call. There are numerous issues with using addresses instead of phone numbers, plus there are telephone/telecom issues.
Currently there are over 54.3 million phone numbers registered with the FTC. Nielsen is exempt from the Do Not Call rules since the company is not a telemarketer. The prediction is that this will be a good thing for telephone survey research because fewer calls over time mean more participation. Nielsen is now including cellphones in their sample frame.
Here are two key issues: Cellphones belong to individuals, while landlines are associated with households. Provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act are affected. Response rates were not that high, but the refusal rates were very low and there were lots of voicemail and disconnected numbers. Ten percent of the respondents did not live in the three states that Arbitron (now Nielsen) called.
When we look at number portability, we find that wireless-to-wireless is not an issue. Other questions are raised. How important is in-car listening to overall radio listening? Is radio losing ground with cars? Are satellite radio and other new devices impacting AM/FM radio? Is in-car listening only a major-market concern? Further complicating matters, is radio listening in a noisy environment and its pact on the PPM's ability to reliably register a station's code? Arbitron (now Nielsen) admits the meter has problems reliably detecting station codes in noisy environments, which is why it has developed a crediting process to fill in gaps at times when a meter detects fragments of encoded audio but can't identity it.
Now here's a series of troubling questions that must be answered. How important are pre-sets? How high of a priority should traffic reports be? How valuable is the in-car listener to advertisers? How large an impact is cell phone use having on in-car listening? Now let's look at some answers to these and other questions.
Are Americans spending more time in their cars? Would you say you're personally encountering more traffic than you did one year ago? Time spent in car (as driver or passenger per weekday or weekend day) has increased.
What about daily commute patterns? The number is nearly equal to the time spent in car. For instance, the national average of total time spent in car has increased to 11 hours for weekends, and 4:10 for weekdays. Currently, on a national average, 14% of our waking life is being spent in cars. Although exact figures are not available, as the study is still going on, we know that number is going to be even higher
Men spend more time in cars than women because they have longer commutes. The average time spent listening is 2:05 for both women and men on weekends. Almost 56% of the time, they're the driver and alone. In-car listening is up while home and work listening has decreased.
From 2097 to 2012 the year-to-date statistics from Mon-Sun 6a-midnight indicate in-car listening is gaining as a percent of total listening. Men are heavier in-car radio users than women. In-car listening peaks at 35-44 (Male). In-car listening is not only a major-market concern. There is a concern about the percent of total radio listening done in car.
Whites spend more time listening in-car than blacks and Hispanics. Why? Because they live further away from their work. In-car listening is crucial to all formats. For Rock stations, 30% of total listening is done in a car -- often to a signal that is less than ideal.
When is drive time? As audiences move through the course of a day, we find that listening does peak in the 7-8a hour. This is nearly as high in the 4-5p hour. In-car is more than half of all listening from 5-6p. More than half of workers' drive time is over before 8a. The 9-5 concept is actually used by very few people. People who work outside the home get to their workplace by 8a. Nearly half of workers leave work before 5 pm.
Radio is overwhelmingly the device most used in the car, but all is not well. Radio is less dominant in-car among 12-24 year olds. Here's a quick look at the percentages of those spending the most time with radio in car.
- 12-17 year olds - 67%
- 18-24 year olds - 55%
Radio is the most essential in-car device for a large majority (AM/FM 69%). Radio is much less essential in-car among 12-24 year olds. There is a high interest in current and future radio display technologies. To be able to search for radio by format, you must search for stations offering weather information on demand. That often means searching for the strongest signal.
Satellite radio familiarity has not yet translated into mass subscriptions. Almost one-third of the sample is not interested in satellite radio.
Interest in satellite radio increases with the pre-install option. Interest in satellite radio is highest among men and 12-24year olds. They are the people who care the most about music. There is a widely varying interest in satellite radio by format preference. Some who were first exposed to satellite radio when they made new car purchases say they may renew or are likely to subscribe to satellite radio in the next six months.
Almost all in-car listening goes to pre-set radio stations (69%). P1 stations are overwhelmingly programmed on pre-set buttons. Pre-set buttons are programmed to far more FM stations than AM. Many don't have a single AM station pre-programmed. Most have five pre-sets. Most pre-sets stay set.
Once programmed, most agree it is not worth the hassle to change pre-set buttons. Those in-cars change the radio station most often. People are much more likely to change in cars than at home or at work. Short bursts of content are usually followed by short bursts of stopsets. Maybe what needs to happen going forward are longer bursts of content followed by longer bursts of commercials.
Think it's true that those traffic reports your research company tells you are not important to the "music freaks?" Think again. When even the most hardcore "music freak" is stuck in traffic, he wants to know about the traffic trouble spots. When most of us want the latest traffic information, where do we go first? Radio. Two-thirds of the adult audience is at least somewhat interested in rush hour traffic reports. Naturally heavy commuters are more likely to be interested in traffic reports than those with a lighter commute.
Which format's listeners care most about traffic reports? News/Talk followed by AC. Rock is fifth. Top 40 is next, followed by Urban/Urban AC. Listeners in all formats want to know the best ways to avoid traffic problems. You might want to consider long sweeps as a high in-car listening strategy. What else can we do to get listeners to give us a pre-set? Consider creative pre-set strategies and potential partnerships with new and used cars.
People still really want to know the title and artist of a song and be able to search for a station by format. People are spending more and more time in cars. One future strategy for Urban programmers might be to expand our appeal among 18-24 year-old males, and aggressively target this vital segment. There are some composite-hour theories and concepts that can help you there.
Now let's briefly look at in-car buying decisions that can result in sales. Recent planning starts with the idea that when is the critical variable rather than how many -- in other words, advertising effects can also be affected.
For those targeting consumers close to purchase, PM drive is the most logical time. Workers make many stops on the commute home. Two out of five consumers don't make the decision to shop until the last minute. An in-car commercial can deliver immediate results for an advertiser. Who are the heavy in-car consumers? Households with $100K annual income that include males 35-54.
Internet Streaming Secrets
Internet broadcasting, just to be clear, are radio and video programs broadcast on the Internet. It plays without downloading. It is live on-demand and offers worldwide delivery of thousands of stations and programs. There are no signal barriers, and it offers office usage and minimal cost of entry. There are thousands of choices.
It is used by 16% of America on a weekly basis (and growing). The online audience is growing along with the increasing use of broadband. It matches the lifestyle of younger consumers. You can use it to serve your P1s and make money.
New media enters the mainstream. Eight in 10 Americans now have access to the Internet from any location and that number continues to rise. In July, 2007, it was up over 80%.
Residential broadband has tripled since January. Over 50 million Americans used online audio or video in the past month. The weekly Internet broadcast audience has grown to over 30 million. Monthly "streamies" are spread across a wide demographic spectrum. "Streamies" say they prefer advertising to subscription models.
Paying no monthly fee for programming with several commercials per hour was the preferred method. Terrestrial radio wins hands down here.
Six in 10 Americans (60%) have listened to Internet audio. Listening to radio stations online has increased five-fold in the past years (33%). "Variety" and "music stations close to your taste" are leading images of Internet radio (i.e.: things that they can't find elsewhere on local radio). Internet broadcast consumers have considerable buying power.
Nielsen Internet broadcast rating use metrics in the language of media planners, buyers and sellers including AQH, cume and TSL. Subscribers only are measured. Then there are server-based measurements for all tuning events; not a sample. The result is maximum reliability
Revenue is driven by ratings. Is revenue directly tied to ratings? The more ears we have to rent, the more revenue we will make. With Nielsen Roll-Up you can quickly assess the status of your station. A PDF pops out of the machine. There are five different sections. A major group or company can see at a glance how well they are doing.
Cluster Trending: See, at a glance, a major group can get a report of their performance.
Market performance: How they are ranking in audience.
Exceptions Report: If you lost share in a previous survey and are down from the previous year.
Performers Report: It shows if you have performed well, and what is and isn't working.
Format Trending: Trending the format inside the company.
Here's a quick language-weighting refresher. What's happening with population estimates? Nielsen remains fully committed to language weighting. Language weighting requires extensive software and compatible population estimates. Significant progress is being made on both.
Currently Nielsen estimates are weighed on up to three dimensions, including age, sex, geography and race/ethnic. Arbitron (now Nielsen) has asked about language usage among Hispanics since 1997.
For some, the question was why bother? The answer: Language usage has a direct connection with radio listening. Language-weighting systems cannot handle the information. We have to look at highs and lows for Spanish language-dominant universe estimates.
Why do some believe PPM is good for radio? There are new PPM enhancements. PPM will help radio become more accountable. It will help radio to program more effectively and allow radio to understand more about audience than ever before. It will also enable stations to retain and grow audience while providing advertisers with more in-depth knowledge about radio, thus increasing the value of the medium.
PPM has better connected retail/advertising activity to retail sales, proving its effectiveness. It will put radio on the same platform as television, improving its chance of garnering a greater share of broadcast advertising budgets. It will allow radio to compete with TV and cable for children's advertising -- and to program to this audience. It will increase radio advertising revenue overall.
Being able to look at all media using the same measurement system will allow for improved media planning and buying decisions, which will increase the credibility of ratings overall. And the value of radio as an advertising medium will increase by offering expanded features such as passive measurement of other media. Along with database integration, minute-by-minute audience flow reports may become available as soon as next year.
The PPM has become a reality for the top-50 markets. Many feel the PPM has a decidedly better lens for measuring today's diverse audience and observing media advertising. It is designed to focus on radio audience data and even Internet stream audience data. This is all captured from the same respondent and integrated into a single database. Nielsen is currently researching how to better include satellite providers XM /Sirius.
The PPM captures all consumer exposure to electronic media. The consumer wears or carries the PPM that, in turn, captures all listening in or out of home, throughout the day.
PPM provides near-passive capture of minute-by-minute multimedia audience exposure in real time. Respondents do not need to recall what television show they may have been watching or what radio station they may have been listening to. They do not need to know the source of that audio stream they listened to on the office computer because the PPM does all the work.
For the first time, advertisers will be able to understand how campaign reach and frequency build - across media and over time - in the local market at the person's level. all television and radio - all in one place.
Of special interest to those serving the Urban community are the following questions:
- Will PPM deliver more accuracy and less wobble?
- How will PPM affect individual Urban format performances?
We're obviously getting ever closer to the day when the "ratings recall game" as we know it will be history!
We're all hoping that the PPM will deliver more accuracy and fewer wobbles. Diary methodology has always seemed to favor certain stations and penalize others. All the names we give radio stations are really for the purpose of recall and were driven by diary methodology Sometimes Urban and particularly Urban AC stations have benefited by the diary methodology. (One reason for this is that the female in most households typically opens the mail, fills out and returns the diary(s).
What you can have are other people filling out your diary. Typically, what we've seen in dozens of recent Nielsen diary reviews are P1 listeners writing down one day that they listened all day long and on the other six days, they didn't listen at all. (We know from our review that they did listen on those other days.)
We're all curious to see what type of impact the PPM has on listeners of our genre, who are very on-the-go active people.
On the plus side, the PPM promises to provide quicker answers to questions on whether or not a contest, promotion or new marketing ploy worked. If we have an idea to take a promotion and roll with it for a couple of months, you'll be able to check results within a few days or weeks.
We all know our own habits in an automobile where we're punching around. Now, for the first time, we have a device that actually measures that jumping around. Then, if we can match that back to the programming that took place at a particular moment, we'll be able to learn a lot about the appeal of different elements, or programs on our affiliate stations.
We need to know the enemy to conquer it. I'm not saying that Nielsen is the enemy, but they are a force and they need to be better understood. Ratings suppliers such as Nielsen don't intentionally make a lot of mistakes, but you constantly have to watch out and be aware of the many call letter, slogan, station name and frequency changes. Things can get confused and often go wrong.
Even though Nielsen has been and will continue to be audited and put more systems in place to prevent errors, they're people and people make mistakes. We need to make sure that we're getting all the credit that we deserve by understanding how to play the ratings game.
What we don't want to do is accept the fallacy that our audience is an elusive and somehow special group of listeners that Nielsen is going out of its way to avoid. Nor should we accept the mindset that says, "Poor us, our ratings are lower because our audience is not as smart or articulate." They may or not be as smart, but they are listeners who count and who have needs.
What we have to do is determine their needs and serve them. Then we have to get full credit for them when Nielsen tallies up the scores. As far as your competition goes. If you can't beat them, join them. Then beat them.