Thursday, July 17, 2008

Radio's "Staycation" Problem/Opportunity

As Radio-Info's Tom Taylor reports that Arbitron is preparing for the impact of summer "stay close to home" vacations...
"It’s something to watch for in both diary numbers in the 100 markets that get Summer books as well as People Meter markets. But the heavy focus is on the PPM because of what happened last Summer, when Arbitron’s Bill Rose admits the sample “came up a little bit short.” The change in lifestyle (vacations and kids being out of school) produced some notable drops in the in-tab levels, and it also evoked strong questions from subscribers in Houston and Philly. So this year Arbitron’s ready. All PPM markets are now “over-installed, in anticipation of Summer vacation.” Of course the wild card is $4-a-gallon gas and the new phenomenon of the economy-induced “staycation.” But even if panel members stay in town instead of driving to DisneyWorld, they may well have different listening patterns. Speaking of listening patterns: is there a “heavy listening threshold” in the PPM, comparable to the never-revealed tripwires that make Arbitron scrutinize heavy-listening diaries? KYW programmer Steve Butler - a veteran of the early PPM testing and now live ratings in Philadelphia – poses that question. Arbitron’s Pierre Bouvard and John Snyder combine to say that the meter gives you the chance to look at “motion patterns” and other new factors, along with listening. Bouvard says “there are still ultra-P1 people, though there are fewer in the PPM than the diary.” But Butler was getting at a key question: if such a meter-carrier exists in your market, they can be on the panel for many months – unlike a diarykeeper who’s done in 7 days..."
..WXTU is surfing the trend, by giving away close-to-home "92.5 XTU Stay-cation Weekends" within driving distance of Philly.

Who knows? It might even help your rating numbers .. by keeping your core listeners inside the metro during their vacations!?

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