Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Umpire Is Speaking In Code

Just like a guy behind home plate, Arbiton is in the business of calling things objectively.

Yet, this ump, like one who secretly roots for the home team, has all of his financial marbles on radio. So, in their monthly PPM briefings, while they’re never going to get caught by the opposing team whispering “next time he throws that one, SWING at it,” they are trying to tell us all something, since no one on the broadcast side of the business knows as much about panel/behavioral measurement as ARB folks do and many of them on the customer-facing side of the company were successful radio executives.

So, what does it mean when they say “Rock formats also scored well..”? Let me take a few guesses in the spirit of playful teasing our friendly ump.
  • The ladies in your 25-34 and 35-44 female cells don’t seem to be using as much radio at work as guys in your sample do?
When Arbitron SVP of marketing Bill Rose points out that the high cume/high daily time spend exposed (broad appeal and high passion) format stations in some cities is AC and calls that place “happy land”?
  • Your direct marketing and commercial free hours are working nicely? But, don't tell advertisers you can't sell them those hours. Or, we found some 25-49 women for you this time and we’ll try to keep them in the panel for as many months as we can?
Country falls into a second tier of performers in most markets, purportedly with high cume but lower daily time spent exposed (or broad appeal but less passion), along with CHR, Hot AC and news?
  • Country will do better if the percentage of Hispanics in town is very low, even nicer if there's no viable direct demo competition and the one which will win in the rankers will probably have the lowest commercial unit load?
Inside Radio was on the call and notes this morning that highly-targeted formats with high passion placed in the third segment (low cume, high TSL) such as regional Mexican, urban AC, news/talk, Spanish hits and urban contemporary?
  • We’ll be knocking on your listeners' home doors soon, hoping that the above average number of people per household in those neighborhoods believe us when we promise not to turn them in to immigration enforcement?
“The fourth group, low cume and low TSL (or lighter appeal and low passion), includes talk/personality, oldies and rhythmic AC.)”?
  • Cancel your PPM contract, do your own research. All hope is lost for you if you try to sell with our small sample estimates at anything approaching the top tier's rates?
The results, previewed yesterday, are part of a larger, forthcoming Arbitron study that identifies the common characteristics of top-tier formats in PPM.
  • Hopefully, they’ll decode the meanings so we can all stop guessing and reading between the lines and have more confidence in what's driving the numerous unpredictable up's and down's that media buyers love to beat us up about. Strangely, they never seem to want to pay for the "up" audience levels but only the "down" ones.

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