Wednesday, October 06, 2010

We're All Statisticians Now

Doing an online, mail-in or telephone survey?

Thanks to the convenience and low cost of the many online tools now available to radio programmers, the task that once was the exclusive territory of people who specialized in research is now being performed week in and week out as we send out surveys to samples which may or may not be representative of the group of people we want to listen more.

Statisticians say that one response in 2,000 "WILL" be wacko, no matter how perfect the sample is!

That's where a very arcane calculation - standard deviation from the mean - comes in. It can't tell you if your entire sample was not the one you wanted to target, but if you know that the vast majority of your data comes from folks in the right age group, the correct geographical locations, a good balance of gender and qualitative profiles, it can help you find the outliers who can greatly skew your results.

Hand check each of your survey responses before tabulating them by computer. All it takes is one such form to throw otherwise very good data WAY OFF.

You actually may get more actionable and reliable research from a smaller, more consistent, cleaner sample.


Bill Filipiak said...

I know I'm in the minority, but I still believe statistics and numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. What has truly become extinct are programmers who ran a station by instinct and a true gut sense of what would work. They gave their stations personality and a sense of community. There's no more room for innovation as stations are run by numbers in a blind attempt to ensure success. I remember the first time I had to compile clips for a focus group while working at KZLA. To me it was the beginning of the end. Deciding whether to play a song based on how people responded to 10 seconds of the hook? Seriously?

And where has it gotten radio? Is it really better?

I find it alarming how much weight is still put on statistics that enforce traditional radio's influence rather than the internet's. I'm sorry but I don't believe only 50 percent of country music fans have internet access ( or that 97% of country music fans get their information from country radio, which I've heard proudly proclaimed by multiple people in the radio industry.

What I do believe is that there are a growing number of older country music fans with disposable income, who are now downloading songs that are 20-30 years old because there's nothing they like on the radio today.

Does it surprise anyone that digital sales of country music are so low? Of course you're not going to sell music on the Web if you don't lead people to it. If radio is still king it's only because the country music industry continues to ordain it with statistics that falsely solidify its place on the throne.

Our thought processes (and surveys) have gotten so narrow and we in turn, so fearful of change, that we're completely obivious to the fact that the rest of the music industry is moving on without us.

Evan said...

Nice article. I saw this Standard Deviation Calulator which is helpful for me

Thank you,