Tag Archives: nielsen

Why Successful Radio Stations Need Research

This week, we continue with part 2 of a blog series that revisits a column I wrote for Radio & Records in 1999 found while digging through the Coleman Insights archives.

Radio and Records

Despite significant changes in the industry over the past 18 years, I’ve been struck by how little some things have changed. I discussed four scenarios in which radio managers fail to get the full benefit of conducting research on their stations. This week, we’ll put the spotlight on:

Scenario 2 – We Have Great Numbers: A program director dismisses any need for conducting research on her station by citing its performance in the latest Nielsen book.

There is no question that Nielsen represents “the bottom line.” I worked for Arbitron, which was acquired by Nielsen in 2013, for six years and experienced how significantly the company’s data impacted radio stations first hand. This experience—and my contact with the company since I left there in 1993—taught me a great deal about the quality of the information they provide, even if there is always room to improve it.

Using Nielsen to assess how your station is doing, however, is not a very good use of their data. In fact, it is downright dangerous. Listener appetites and the competitive landscape can change so quickly that what Nielsen reported in the fall book might have little bearing on the winter results. It’s also been my experience that ratings performance and the strength of your position are not perfectly correlated.

Let’s play out a hypothetical situation. Let’s say you’re in charge of an Adult Contemporary station, currently number one in your target demo. When it comes to music, you’ve got a lot of room to play with and your playlist covers various segments of the format spanning four decades. Your morning show gets decent numbers, but at-work listening is where your station really shines. With things going so well, it would be easy to say, “Why do research”?

There are a couple of things that tend to remain constant in radio. First, you probably won’t stay on top forever. Second, if you are at or near the top, a competitor will likely try to slice into your success. What if you knew, with a great deal of clarity, where your own strengths and weaknesses lie? What if you knew the strengths and weaknesses of other stations in the market? What if you knew if the musical tastes of the market were changing? What if you knew that the awareness level and appeal of your morning show wasn’t as high as you expected? What if you discovered the broad nature of your playlist made you vulnerable to a more focused attack?

Would you rather have answers to these questions before your radio station is attacked?

A perceptual study—at Coleman Insights, it’s called a Plan DeveloperSM—can  help shore up your fort before it is too late to discover your vulnerabilities. Perceptual research can also discover what your brand stands for in the marketplace.  Stations with strong brands are far more equipped to withstand ratings wobbles than those without. Focusing on the next ratings book is a short-term strategy.  Focusing on research that builds your brand is a long-term approach built for long-term success.

What kind of research should you do and is it giving you the results you need? Furthermore, are the results being interpreted properly as part of a larger brand strategy? Next week, we’ll focus on Scenario 3 – Confusing Tactical and Strategic Research.    






Coleman Insights And Media Monitors Find That “Turn On-Turn Offs” Dominate Radio Listening Occasions

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC & WHITE PLAINS, NY, January 6, 2016—A major new study of Nielsen Audio Portable People Meter (PPMTM) data reveals that nearly two-thirds of radio station listening occasions consist of listeners “turning on” a station and end with them “turning off” a station, as opposed to “switching in” from and “switching out” to other stations. This is the major finding of “The Components of Tuning Occasions – Switching vs. Turning” study the two companies previewed at last month’s Nielsen Audio Client Conference and released today. It is based on an analysis of nearly 37 million listening occasions captured in all 48 United States radio markets measured by Nielsen Audio’s PPM measurement system in October 2014, January 2015, April 2015 and July 2015.

To complete the study, Coleman Insights and Media Monitors classified listening occasions as “Turn On-Turn Offs,” “Turn On-Switch Outs,” “Switch In-Switch Outs” and “Switch In-Turn Offs” based on how they began and ended. They found that 62.7% of all occasions are Turn On-Turn Offs, while 11.3% are Turn On-Switch Outs, 14.5% are Switch In-Switch Outs and 11.5% are Switch In-Turn Offs. It is the opinion of both companies that the proportion of occasions that involve Turning On and Turning Off is significantly higher than the expectations of most radio programmers and managers.

The study produced two other major findings about listening occasions:

1.  Occasions that begin with Turn Ons are five minutes longer on average than those that begin with Switch Ins, suggesting that stations can theoretically generate more Time Spent Listening under PPM measurement by increasing the proportion of listening occasions they generate through Turning On.

2.  The proportion of a station’s occasions that are Turn On-Turn Offs among its P1 listeners—those who listen to a station more than any other—is even higher. While 62.7% of all occasions are Turn On-Turn Offs, the figure soars to 78.6% among P1 listeners.

“These findings are about the strongest reinforcement of the value of brand-building for radio stations that I can imagine,” commented Coleman Insights president/chief operating officer Warren Kurtzman, who co-authored the study. “The ability of a radio station to generate listening occasions through Turning On is dependent on having a strong brand, which is based on having high awareness, a clearly-defined position, association with multiple product attributes and eliciting passion from the audience.”

“The Components of Tuning Occasions – Switching vs. Turning” also reveals where Switching—when listeners switch between radio stations—plays its most significant role. Switching is more prevalent among younger listeners than older listeners and, as a result, is observed at higher levels for stations that offer formats that tend to attract younger audiences.

“Our study points to how those who program younger-targeted formats such as CHR, Rhythmic CHR, Alternative, Hot AC, Rhythmic AC, Urban and Active Rock need to be more concerned with preventing listeners from Switching Out than those who program other formats do,” noted study co-author and Media Monitors president/chief executive officer Philippe Generali. “Having a strong brand is clearly important, but for many stations, preventing Switching clearly can have a significant impact on their PPM performance.”

Nielsen subscribers can download a free report detailing the study’s findings at the Nielsen client portal, https://bit.ly/ppmcomponents. The report includes an important note about its use of plain language terms such as “Switch In” and “Turn On.”  This note emphasizes that PPM provides insights about exposure to radio and users should not assume that PPM data reflects a perfect proxy for consumer choice and behavior.

About Coleman Insights

Coleman Insights, headquartered in Research Triangle Park, NC, with offices in Philadelphia and Hamburg, Germany, is a firm that has helped media properties build strong brands and develop great content since 1978. Its clients include hundreds of media properties in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, including those owned by CBS Corporation, Sony Corporation, Emmis Communications, The Walt Disney Company, iHeartMedia, EMI, Warner Music Group, SummitMedia, American Public Media, Bonneville International Corporation, Vivendi SA, Hubbard Radio, Newcap Radio, Lagardère International, Grupo Prisa, Mid-West Family Broadcast Group, Salem Communications, The Mondadori Group, Connoisseur Media, Corporación Radial del Perú, SBS Broadcasting, Townsquare Media and Alpha Media. Additional information about Coleman Insights is available at www.ColemanInsights.com.

About Media Monitors

Media Monitors is the nation’s leading broadcast monitoring and verification service for broadcasters, print media, media investment companies and advertising agencies. Media Monitors is a subsidiary of RCS, the world’s largest provider of broadcast and webcast software. Media Monitors and its logo are registered trademarks of Media Monitors. The Media Monitors broadcast content recognition process of audio fingerprinting used by Media Monitors is protected by U.S. Patent 7,386,047. For more information, visit www.mediamonitors.com.

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Media Monitors