Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fewer Than 2% Of Your Listeners Determine 90% Of Your Ratings

Research being done by Arbitron and DMR at the University of Wisconsin posits that heavy radio users drive nearly 90% of the ratings.

Almost a full year's PPM data from Houston is being studied to see what role listener loyalty and preference has in the actual ratings.

DMR is giving a first look at the headlines today and it's a little frightening. Even for what might be called "mass appeal" stations in Houston - like AC and country - fewer than TWO PERCENT of all listeners determine the final rating shares.

According to UW-Madison’s Ty Henderson PhD, "The listening preference patterns in this analysis mirrors what we see in many consumer products: a select few drive the majority of the category. Knowing who matters and who to target will be critical to stations’ marketing and programming."

Another finding: not all P1's are created equal. Although this was more or less known to be true in the diary world, a new measure, "percent of listening" (POL) uncovers the select few who REALLY matter the most.

In fact, even stations with the highest metro cumes derive the majority of their listening from a tiny, but very important, group: less than 2% of their cume drives nearly half of the listening of, for example, a leading AC (SUNNY 99.1 -- KODA-FM ).

Bill Rose, senior vice president of marketing at Arbitron says, "Understanding P1 listening is crucial for radio programmers and this study will provide fresh insight into the dynamics of how it works in the PPM world."

A few reactions to this info:

1. Panel management is the KEY to reliable PPM numbers. Ask the folks in Houston and Philadelphia: if your heaviest users aren't in the panel this month or if one of those folks catches a cold and stays home from work for a week, it's going to be a tough thirty days for you. Or, more, since only roughly ten percent of the panel turns over each month.

2. Good news: it's always been like this - perhaps even more so - in the diary measurement system. It's just that the PPM data is so much more granular, we can see it more clearly than ever now.

3. MORE good news: if you know the names, addresses, email contacts, workplaces, etc for your Ultra-Core Listeners, you are off the a great start. Now, what ELSE can you find out about them, which will make you even more valuable to them?

A friendly tip: If you don't know these things, NOW would be a great time to start obtaining them. A&O can help prioritize tactics and even vendors to help cut the job down to a manageable size.

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