Thursday, June 24, 2010

In PPM Your So-Called "Hot Zips" Are Really ARB's Or BBM's Hot Zips

My first reaction to last week's Arbitron-The Research Director webinar on the primacy of "P-1" listeners in driving average quarter hour audience in PPM measurement was "so what else is new?"

The P1 Effect: How First Preference Listeners Drive Ratings In A PPM World (June 2010):
First Preference listeners, are THE primary driver of Average Quarter-Hour audience. 10 years ago, Research Director, Inc.'s groundbreaking analysis proved it in a diary world….but how crucial is P1 listening to a station's ratings success in PPM? (pdf - 37 pages/3,829k) Also, click here to see a recorded presentation of this study by Charlie Sislen. (Streamed Windows Media File/approximately 35 minutes over broadband connection).

Then, it hit me that what IS new is that many of us need to rethink what a "P-1" is before fully grasping the importance of the new data.

In even the largest markets country stations have fewer than 20 "PPM-defined hot zips," areas with a higher than average incidence rate of country radio heavy users in the PPM panel.

Of course, the typical country station actually has as many as five times as many REAL hot zip code areas, as our own databases and many years of diary samples have proven, but the majority of them simply don't count as often as they used to because of the small PPM sample size.

You may be very popular and used regularly by a majority of the folks in some areas of your metro, but if those key demographics and geographies are not proportionately represented in the sample, it's going to look like you have no listeners.

So, since panelists being retained in the sample for as long as possible is ARB and BBM's goal, the panel you have is the panel you must learn to live with.

It's important to really understand how the panelists who make use of your radio station live their lives, why they use other stations and work with that matrix while trying not to water your product and marketing down so that you don't diminish your brand essence, which is the key to long-term success.

In PPM, P1 is not a description of "loyalty" or "brand depth," it's all about the amount of usage and that is all. Heavy radio users listen to many, many more stations than the average radio user.

The good side of that fact is that building cume is really not as necessary as we all thought it was based on recall measurement. We all have twice as much cume as we thought we did.

But, the bad news is that those folks are barely aware of a great majority of the radio they use.

Clutter, over-commercialization, hype, songs listeners dislike or are tired of and air personality content that doesn't immediately grab and hold a listener hurt "P-1" listening.

A station position, personality, song or benchmark that a radio user loves may actually drive that person away from the station more times than their strong positive image brings them back, compared to the other choices.

That's the "P-1" Sislen encourages us to focus on in PPM markets.

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