Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PPM: A Game Of Inches, But NOT Seconds

You have to admire the savvy major market PD who reports that his station is mandated to carry two more commercial minutes per hour than his direct format competition so he orders the talent to stop for commercials precisely from 11:30 to 18:30 and 41:30 to 48:30 while the other station - lucky enough to carry only ten minute loads in a pair of five minute stops - runs their breaks from 12:30 to 17:30 and 42:30 to 47:30.

Yes, it is just possible, since PPM is technically incapable of accurately measuring thirty second listening periods on a consistent basis that many times the tune-out potential picked up by PPM will be very close to the same in the majority of hours of both these stations!

So, Mr. Savvy Pants does get a point for attention to detail and electronic smarts from me. However, the personalities on both of them have to be sweating blood as two very anal programmers clock each break with their stopwatches.

Here's the danger.

PPM does a much better job of helping us all manage tune-out than it does tune-in and yet what is the easiest to manage isn’t always the most effective.

Certainly, a good format clock is built to maximize the length of time that a well-programmed radio station gives listeners what they tuned in expecting to hear, and seldom is that promos, sweepers, remote broadcasts and commercials.

However, it’s very hard to move the average number of minutes given in a typical occasion of listening much more than a minute or two (especially if it's located close to the crossover from one quarter hour to the next one).

Much larger “bang for the buck” movement in daily cume and time spent exposed is created by the number of days per week the average cume listener comes back to the station as well as the number of occasions per day.

Far better to get someone to start listening at :03 or :04, :18 or :19, :33 or :34 OR :43 or 44 when that minute or two leads into 26 or 27 minutes of great expectations met or exceeded!

Adding a minute or two to your TSE at the wrong time may not even buy you one more quarter hour of listening.

Adding a new occasion to your P-1 TSE invariably gets you another quarter hour and perhaps even two of them.

So, it’s a lot more productive to teach talent to always have something entertaining and fresh to say several times in every quarter hour and then spend the time they’re using now to watch the clock instead to create powerful, metaphorical and emotional teases to those strong content moments.

That will bring the listener who might be tempted to leave due to the interruptions - regardless of their length - right back in "seven" minutes.

That way, you’ll have a better shot at both more and longer spans of listening rather than just :30 seconds more.

Stop watching the clock so much. Prep both content and great teases to it.

Then, watch your numbers move in the right direction ... by more than just inches/seconds.

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