Showing posts with label Online Research Trends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Online Research Trends. Show all posts

Monday, March 03, 2014

Can Online Usage Reinvent Radio At Home?

Trend:  as television has reinvented their morning newscasts in the form of traditional morning radio shows, many folks have been turning to radio later in the morning, as they get into their vehicles.

Will personal mobile devices give your radio station a new "at home usage" opportunity?

BUT, meanwhile, the vehicle is under attack at the same time:

.. especially with our long term future listeners.

The national averages, of course, are fascinating but meaningless, really, except as a comparison to your local performance.  Are you ahead of/behind the curve on every data point?  There's only one way to know and that is to do local research.

 - A&O&B Roadmap 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Online Listening To Audio Doesn't Hurt AM/FM Usage

In fact, among core country fans, it appears to increase it!

Your listeners are looking for you where ever they use audio media and that change is coming fast:

The national averages, of course, are fascinating but meaningless, really, except as a comparison to your local performance.  Are you ahead of/behind the curve on every data point?

There's only one way to know and that is to do local research.

- A&O&B Roadmap 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Roadmap 2014: Country Listeners Are Increasingly Social

Sure, Facebook is big.  BUT there isn't one emerging social medium that isn't picking up more of our listeners on a daily basis.

(My Space?  What's THAT?)

The national averages, of course, are fascinating but meaningless, really, except as a comparison to your local performance.  Are you ahead of/behind the curve on every data point?

There's only one way to know and that is to do local research.

- A&O&B Roadmap 2014 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"AM, FM, XM too.."

Even the most satisfied core listener sometimes gets pushed away by their favorite radio station doing something they don't like.

Where do they go when that happens?

A little less than half punch another preset.  One in four goes to their own digital player, but after that the other 2014 "second choices" are not what they used to be!

If you're not planning ways right now to prevent Luke Bryan from looking for things to rhyme with "Pandora, Slacker and iPod too" in his next single, it's time to start.

 - A&O&B Roadmap 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Roadmap 2014 Sneak Preview

More than 9,000 country radio listeners from nearly 100 radio stations participated in A&O&B's Roadmap 2014.  This is nearly double the number of stations whose listeners completed the online survey and an increase of 43% in sample size from 2013.
75% reside the USA and 25% live in Canada  Demos were fairly well-balanced, with huge growth in the under-35 cells:

13%  18-24
21% 25-34
19% 35-44
25% 45-54
16% 55-64

90% called a country station "their first choice."

Just 13% agreed with the stations that country music is worse than it used to be.

58% said they spend more than two hours per day with their favorite country station and 33% listened 1-2 hours daily.

72% called themselves very satisfied with their favorite country station.  Fewer than 1% said that they are "very dissatisfied" with the country station they listen to the most.

In short:  these are passionate fans of country music who use radio heavily.

The national averages are certainly fascinating to ponder, but the real utility of these numbers for A&O&B clients is to compare every data point in the study with their local listener perceptions to spot both problems and opportunities by knowing more about their audience.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We Are SO Smart

I went with that headline instead of just stealing the one atop the Country Radio Seminar's latest press release:  "Young Country Fans Use an Average of Five Different Social Media Sites" because "we are so smart" is what Mike O'Malley, Becky Brenner and I said to ourselves after seeing this yesterday:

Where should Country radio engage with its new generation of listeners? Everywhere and at once.  A new study on Country listening and media usage among 12-to-34-year-olds shows that the average number of different social media sites used by that demographic is an impressive 4.4. But 12-to-34-year-olds who listen frequently to Country music are even more prone to be using multiple social media sites simultaneously, an average of 5.0.

Edison Research’s “Understanding Country Radio’s Next Generation of Listeners” is the newest research on the music and media habits of 12-to-34-year olds. The full survey will be unveiled February 19th at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville by Edison’s Larry Rosin and Megan Lazovick, along with Jayne Charneski, an expert on “Millennials.” A follow-up session will be held February 20th.

Edison surveyed 1,550 12-34-year-olds, including nearly 900 respondents under age 25.   In addition, Edison conducted face-to-face interviews with Millennials about their attitudes towards Country music, Country radio, and music listening and media habits in general. Those interviews will be unveiled for the first time at the Country Radio Seminar presentation. 

The average number of social networks used is the number that respondents said that they used “actively or occasionally.”

“Broadcasters are at widely varying places in their social media efforts, and acknowledging the need to engage with listeners and potential listeners does not always translate to having a strategy,” says Edison Research president Larry Rosin. “Knowing that young Country fans are on even more networks than their already savvy peers means that Country needs a wide-ranging social media strategy that goes beyond ‘like us on Facebook.’ We look forward to helping guide broadcasters craft that strategy at CRS.”

That process already started long ago at A&O&B. 

That's why we hired Jacobs Media's Lori Lewis to help our clients navigate the future.  It begins publicly at A&O&B's Pre-CRS Seminar February 18 in Nashville, where you will want to hear Lori's presentation, part of our best client seminar EVER.

RSVP for 2014's 2/18 client seminar now (click)!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Milking That "Outdated Research" One More Time

Seldom do I post data that A&O&B clients saw a year ago and get as much response as I have to my previous article.

Folks have called, posted and emailed positing numerous theories as to why country radio's "satisfaction" scores have trended downward for the last two years and "willing to try a new radio station" has trended up (though both remain at levels many other formats would envy!):
  • The music isn't as good as it was two years ago?
  • Too many irritating commercials?
  • Too much repetition?
  • Over-reliance on voice-tracking and not enough 24/7 engagement?
  • Weak digital outreach?
  • Lack of marketing?
Here's my take, for what it's worth.

Of course, all of that are challenges we need to work harder on, but so do all other radio formats too and they are hardly unique to country radio.  I think a large factor is simply generational shift, aging out folks from our target who might have accepted a "we talk/you listen" broadcast approach.

It may be that we're not worse that we were one, two, three years ago.  It's just that today's listener simply demands more from us.

Going back to doing what we did in the past won't solve the problem.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

It's Time For Your Annual Checkup

For the ninth year A&O&B client stations across the USA and Canada will be inviting their listeners to take a test.

When the results of "Roadmap 2014" are available in about a month, it will be the individual radio stations getting their grades by core listeners.

The study goes into the field this week in over 90 markets in the US and Canada and the national trends will be revealed at A&O&B's annual Pre-CRS 2014 client seminar.

Satisfaction levels last year were highest with 35-44's and lowest, though still very good, with 25-34.

Reliance drives behavior.  Measures of listening like loyalty, time spent listening, core vs fringe and tune in occasions are all driven by a feeling of regular daily reliance on a personality or radio station.

Importance, an internal realization a personality or radio station has become valuable to the listener drives perceptions which can drive that behavior. 

These "average" levels in Roadmap seem to have peaked three years ago and appeared to be trending downward for the last two years.  Each individual station performs uniquely of course and knowing if you're better or worse than average is a crucial success factor.
  • How much do listeners rely on your radio station this year?  
  • How important in their lives is it?

Switchability of the average country radio listener seems to have gotten easier and easier little by little over the last five years.

There's only one way to reverse those troublesome trends and that is to know what they are.   A&O&B is committed to measuring them again right now. 

Invite your listeners to be a part of this annual exam.  If you want to learn how, let's talk soon

Your 2014 ratings depend on it.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Garbage In

Someone recently told me that streaming will surpass AM/FM listening in less than five years.

"Huh?"  "Where in the world did you hear that?" I asked and was told that they saw it online.

I guess that means 'if you saw it online, it must be true?'

So, I put the assertion in my trusty search engine and got back a number of results:
Naturally, it hit the social platforms too where it got reTweeted and forwarded:

Twitter / bevilwooding: Consumers Believe Streaming ...
Consumers Believe Streaming Will Surpass AM/FM Listening by 2018 says Stitcher Survey.

Just because it's titillating doesn't make something a fact.

Read the study. A&O&B's Mike O'Malley did so and noted:
  • The focus of the study is on "archivable media" - tv, movies, etc. 
  • Even music is presumably included as archivable. 
  • There's no info in the report on live radio talent (we're talking REAL talent) with relevant, entertaining and in the moment content.
  • The data points are from 18-34s, not 18+ as the survey says it is. seeing the 18+ would add perspective.  Could there be a reason they didn't include it?  Perhaps it didn't fit the narrative the PR company was hoping to push?
WYCT/Pensacola's "Captain" Chris Clare was also part of our conversation on the report as well and had an important perspective:
To me it's a blurring of the words "on demand". To say that you imply that the user has the ability to program what's next. In no music service medium, not even on an iPod do you control what's next. What's next is what comes up in the rotation. If you don't want to hear a song on your iPod, you skip to the next one. On a radio, Pandora, change stations until you hear a song you like. It's all the same thing.

The only true, on demand radio is the one you get to play and pick in real time. That doesn't exist for a consumer and if it did there aren't a lot of people who will take the time to set it up. It's why satellite radio didn't take off like they thought. Does it give you more choices? Yes. But it's still a lot of skipping around to hear what you want at that minute and it comes at a cost.

The advantage radio has is it's free to skip around on. No iTunes downloads or monthly fees. As long as the playing fields stay even (royalty payments) people will pick the free option most times because it's no different than other choices that make them pay especially since many of them have found you have to sell ads to make ends meet.

People will only pay so much for something that they can get for free.

So, to cap it all off:  the study wasn't even about whether FM goes away anytime soon (i.e., the next 15 years), let alone predicting it will for today's adults.

Caveat lector.

Monday, June 24, 2013

San Diego Jayebitrons Are In And AM-FM Radio Wins By Many Miles

Sometimes multiple data points all appear to converge, calling out for back-of-napkin research.  Your humble correspondent is delighted to do the math for you.

Blogger Jennifer Lane points to an "interesting new study by GroupM Next comparing broadcast and internet radio listeners. (GroupM Next is the “forward thinking, innovation unit” of GroupM, the largest conglomerate of Ad Agencies in the world. The unit studies consumer use of new platforms and provides insight to agencies on usage of such.) 
"The study reveals several positive facts about the Internet radio audience. The average age of an Internet radio listener is 34 years old versus the average age of a broadcast radio listener which is 47 years old. Since the average income was found to be similar in both groups, the Internet radio audience is more affluent given their substantially younger age.

"86% of Internet radio listeners listen to free services and have never paid to listen. They don’t mind ads, and don’t try to avoid them, and are twice as inclined to make a purchase after hearing an ad. In fact, 29% of Internet radio listeners have purchased something they heard advertises, versus 14% of broadcast radio listeners."

Today's Inside Radio reports on a Hivio San Diego presentation by Triton Digital chief strategy officer Patrick Reynolds who said the the entire San Diego market had Average Active Sessions of 5,126 people during the month of May.  The number was about twice that — around 9,500 — during the primetime 6am-8pm daypart.  

That is when I got the napkin out.
  • Say that in an average quarter hour in San Diego roughly 15% of all people are listening to AM-FM radio.  That would be a napkin-calculated average persons of about 354,000.
  • Assume that 90% of the total population of San Diego cumes a radio station at least once in an average week.  That would put the total cume persons using AM-FM radio in an average week at 2.1 million.
Five to ten thousand people vs 354,000, let alone 2.1 million????

Is there any wonder why terrestrial radio is only billing 5-7% of its total revenues from interactive?

No wonder online ad rates are so low.  No one's listening, if you believe my trusty napkin.

Hey, you "forward-thinking innovators:"  caveat emptor!
Triton Digital chief strategy officer Patrick Reynolds said the San Diego market had Average Active Sessions of 5,126 people during the month of May.  The number was about twice that — around 9,500 — during the primetime 6am-8pm daypart.   Two-thirds of the sessions were for Pandora, with the remaining third divvied up among all other webcasts, including FM/AM streams.  That portion of the pie is cut into extremely narrow slices — Triton says San Diego residents divided their listening up among 4,754 different stations, including many from outside the market. “They’re listening to a lot of local traditional radio stations online,” Reynolds noted, saying server log data shows stations from markets all over the country showing up.
Triton was also able to detect listening on 60 different devices, including smartphones, gaming consoles and desktop units like Sonos.  “It’s kind of complicated but you have to be in all the places that your people are if you want that audience,” Reynolds said.
He also noted that while about 80% of Pandora listening occurs on a mobile device, most radio groups pull in fewer than 50% of their users that way.  It’s why Reynolds thinks Pandora listening levels are so much higher than for everyone else.  “They’re where people are and they’re getting a big audience,” he said.
- See more at:
Triton Digital chief strategy officer Patrick Reynolds said the San Diego market had Average Active Sessions of 5,126 people during the month of May.  The number was about twice that — around 9,500 — during the primetime 6am-8pm daypart.   Two-thirds of the sessions were for Pandora, with the remaining third divvied up among all other webcasts, including FM/AM streams.  That portion of the pie is cut into extremely narrow slices — Triton says San Diego residents divided their listening up among 4,754 different stations, including many from outside the market. “They’re listening to a lot of local traditional radio stations online,” Reynolds noted, saying server log data shows stations from markets all over the country showing up.
Triton was also able to detect listening on 60 different devices, including smartphones, gaming consoles and desktop units like Sonos.  “It’s kind of complicated but you have to be in all the places that your people are if you want that audience,” Reynolds said.
He also noted that while about 80% of Pandora listening occurs on a mobile device, most radio groups pull in fewer than 50% of their users that way.  It’s why Reynolds thinks Pandora listening levels are so much higher than for everyone else.  “They’re where people are and they’re getting a big audience,” he said.
- See more at:

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Every Music Director Knows That Arbitron Seemingly Doesn't

Big kudos to Lincoln Financial Media's Don Benson for his service in the past year as chair of the Arbitron Affiliates Advisory Council.  No one could have done more to call attention to the constant elephant in the room in radio's relationship with ARB, sample sizes.

The challenge appears to be that ARB would like the AAAC to advocate to their radio brethren that the only way to get sample sizes up is to increase the rates they pay and of course meanwhile radio tells their reps on the council that given that the ratings giant's profits have been growing faster than the economy even during these recessionary times and are locked in at the same levels for the next few years, so they see ARB as a parasite that is slowly killing its host.

Once upon a time, when radio research companies were these distant experts who also charged humongous fees for perceptual studies and music testing because they were the masters of techniques that were intellectually above the heads of mere mortals.

Today, that's no longer true, as online music testing and perceptual studies are routinely done in house using email databases and anyone who sees the results week after week can quickly observe the difference a large, representative sample creates in the results versus a too-small one.

This ranker, shared with permission, from a recent test tells me that a total sample of 126 is a pretty reliable indication of how the average listener to this station feels about these songs, especially so if the station looks at a weekly trend report from different people of about the same size sample over multiple weeks and the stats remain fairly stable.

Another station whose data I watch each week just had less than half the sample size of the first one.  Hopefully, the database manager/music director of this station knows that those columns with so many 100%'s - which look a lot like PPM rankers in some narrow cells - are not worth making decisions on.

I'd prefer to see a sample of 250 or more, so all of the narrow demo tabs are also well-balanced and at least the minimum of 30 persons that ARB's PD Advantage and Maximiser will allow you to run a report on. 

49 people with just five or six in the narrow cells? = garbage data. You'd be better of with no research than acting on this particular music test.

Yet, media buyers increasingly are looking at very granular cume and TSE numbers for individual radio stations based on samples that small and expecting them to be consistent and stable.

Hopefully, 2013 council Chair Craig Jacobus and Vice Chair Joel Oxley will be just as vociferous as Benson and his committee has been in 2012 and - for the good of all of us - finally move Arbitron toward not just listening to radio's long-stated concerns, but ACTION on out-dated paper-based diary methodology and sample size increases in all size markets.

See:  How Do You Keep Online Music Testing Sample Sizes Robust? (pdf) A&O music specialist Mark Patric shares his approach.  What's yours?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Don't Give Up Your Email Database

When you read the online social media advocates, you'd think that email is so yesterday and the best place to get engaged response is by going social. (3 in 4 US Orgs Say Social Media Poses Challenge to Email)

Especially if you're trying to reach listeners where they live and not other businesses. (Email Conversion Rate Benchmarks Higher Among B2B Cos)

This is the final week for A&O's seventh annual client online perceptual study, Roadmap 2012, and I've been checking response rates for the more than 80 country radio stations participating.

We recommend that stations email an invitation to the study to 5,000 target age/gender listeners and most clients who do that are getting 7-10% response and a nice, robust sample.

Then, there are others whose numbers are lagging behind the averages. Several told me that they decided to try Twitter and Facebook this time since they have many more than the suggested 5,000 "friends" there.

I suggested that if they want a larger reliable sample, it was time to stop hoping for their social network connections to maybe do the survey and to send a well-written email with a powerful subject line explaining how they plan to make use of the opinions folks give.

24 hours later.

Just one day later, the response rate to the survey is 20 times what two weeks at social media was able to generate.

Social media is, no doubt, a fabulous way to listen to your audience's stories and converse with them. Reflect the best of them on the air. Your programming will be more engaging, but if you want a timely response to a specific offer or event, send a personalized email.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The "Other" Questions

This is the week A&O's 7th Annual "Roadmap 2012" perceptual study goes into the field. Client stations can track strategic and tactical questions to define clusters (in addition to music preference), understand how satisfied each individual audience is with their favorite station compared to national averages, tracked over the years, in addition to tech usage.

Each A&O client station will receive a customized local breakout. The first presentation of the national findings and recommendations will be at A&O Pre-CRS Seminar '12 next month.

It's never possible to have an unlimited number of questions. That's why as Mike, Becky and I finalize the study, we ask ourselves "are these the most pressing success factors affecting clients right now?," which means that there are many other "interesting" things everyone who creates content for listeners also need to know about today's listener which we decided not to ask, since any smart programmer or personality is going to hang out with real people in their audience and tailor what they talk about to as many tribes within their cume as possible.

Do you know how long your cume and core listeners have been listening to country music? Less than a year, 1 to 3 years, 3 to 6 years, more than 6? The exact percentages matter less to your success than the fact that a bit of your content must be engaging to each of those groups as consistently as possible.

How many folks under 30 live in their residence? Is it close to the national census average of two and a half? More/fewer? Why would that be? Is it unique to your station or the local community for some reason?

Besides country music, what other types of music do they enjoy listening to? What type of program do they like to watch on TV?

In the past year, how many times have they left your home state on vacation? Did they drive or fly?

If they could choose one place to go on a dream vacation, where would it be? Would they take the whole family or go alone for an escape?

When they have spare time, what type of activity do they like to do most often?

How many vehicles do they and the other members of the household own?

Is their personal vehicle domestic or foreign? Why?

How would they identify their political views?

Social networks are one great place to start to think about these "lifestyle" questions in terms of the kind of people you want to like and listen regularly to you, and I don't just mean Facebook, Twitter and the online resources where you can interact with the lives of real people.

You don't need a perceptual study to do that.

You need a "life."

PS: if you'd like to make sure your audience is part of "A&O Country Roadmap 2012," reach out now to Mike, Becky or me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Lifespan Of A Country Current

How long does it take to find out if country radio listeners dislike a song? How many weeks of airplay does it take to make ‘em tired of a song? Is the fact that two or three country stations per market all play almost the same songs in nearly identical rotations hurting the appeal of country music on the radio?

To try to learn the answers to those questions, A&O tracks audience response to every current hit tested by our client stations year-round. Most weeks, that's between 35 and 45 titles.

Lately, I have been entering all of them - by the number of weeks a song has been played nationally (A&O AccuTest recommendations) - into a spreadsheet. The tracking of average scores is displayed by number of weeks the songs play.

Here is how the audience felt about - not the best, nor the worst, but - the average of all of the country songs played during the summer and fall of 2011:

% Positive %Burn %Dislike %Unfamiliar
After four weeks: 51.95 2.58 7.03 20.35

In most cases, this was the first week the song was tested. The tune had received 14 plays in its first week on the radio, 20 plays in its second, 27 plays in the third week and 29 plays in the week the song was initially researched. Half of the national sample (52% was already starting to like it, while one-fifth were unfamiliar with it (based on a :07-:10 hook).

The acceptance radio margin (positive:negative) was 5.41:1. In other words, the odds were 5.4 to one that by the time that UNfamiliar 20.35% of the sample became familiar with it, they would also like it.

After seven weeks: 46.9 2.7 7.32 23.9

I don’t have an explanation, just an observation. After three additional weeks of play - on average in secondary rotation - the changes in acceptance and rejection are significant statistically.

Unfamiliarity grew by 17.4% and positives dropped by 9.7%.

Could it be that passionate fans, heavy-users, who are first to hear and recognize new music feel most positive about it right away? Then, their negatives begin to grow after this early positive response as they become more discerning?

Almost all songs in the sample received at least seven weeks’ airplay before being dropped (some were for poor research results, but most drops came as a result of slow chart momentum and not weak test scores). A small number of songs were dropped after three weeks’ play. The majority of songs tested in week four were still on the playlist by week eleven.

A dirty little "consultant secret:" our first national indication that perhaps a song isn't going to make it comes not from poor research scores, but when a number of influential clients simply stop testing it.

Eleven weeks: 65.98 3.65 8.75 6.08

The 41% increase in acceptance at this point was due to at least three possible factors: familiarity with the song had gotten up to almost 94% with (by now) an average of 35 plays per week, the lower-testing titles had been dropped from play at this point (which by and of itself improved the average score) and combined negatives had only increased from 10.02% to 12.4%, a 23.8% hike.

Positives seem to grow faster than negatives.

Fifteen weeks: 68.1 3.6 8.18 6.8

Now, familiarity has peaked and stabilized. Negatives are steady. Yet, at this point, almost all reporting stations are beginning to move the song from a 38+ play rotation to an average rotation of 22 plays, due to pressure from below the song on the chart to move on to other power records.

And, why not?

It begins to seem that if a PD or MD kept a song in power rotation until burn increased to extreme levels, almost nothing would ever go off that station:

Nineteen weeks: 72.75 5.2 5.53 4.2
Twenty-one weeks: 73.68 5.0 6.25 2.65

Normally, by that time, the song is starting to go off of all current trade charts - yet it’s clear that increased play does NOT appear to cause burn or dislike to grow.

Meanwhile, familiarity makes great drops in weeks 15 thru 21. Light and medium-users have now become familiar as well, and P-1 listeners are not yet growing tired of it.

Interestingly enough, all of the markets included in these averages have two, and in some cases, three country stations.

It certainly does not seem like fatigue with over-exposed music, or growing dislike for the burnt-out songs, is a problem for country radio today.

However: it must be remembered that callout/online test research respondents are screened for the fact that they listen to country radio regularly. It may be that the opinions of non-listeners or those who are listening less lately are simply not reflected here due to our testing methodology.

Have you noticed something I may have missed?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

"Research IQ"

The best time of year to field perceptual studies, callout, focus groups, music tests? In the constant change that is today's radio universe, the answer is usually "yesterday."

And, as a result, most research companies are working non-stop, year round where once upon a time they centered their activities in the first and third quarters - when many stations get set for fall and spring surveys.

Consolidation cut back on the amount of marketing research done by radio at first back in the late 90's and early 2000's, but now thanks to internet survey and social networking tools there's no reason why any radio manager can't do as much, or even more, listener research and data crunching as was done forty years ago -- when only a few very innovative companies began to recognize that it was possible to learn more about a competitor than even they knew about themselves.

Ultimately, perceptual studies, focus groups and music testing became ubiquitous, until it became obvious that if three stations in the same format all targeted the same demographic, they'd all end up positioning themselves as "less talk, more music" and playing the same 250-300 songs.

Today, it takes a much more sophisticated approach to digging deeper into tastes and lifestyles to fully understand what coalitions drive loyalty and usage, understanding when you can "do-it-yourself" and when the findings you get from online tactics require greater expertise from one of the excellent radio research companies, who - given the complexity of our multi-platform world - are busier than ever.

Stay in close touch with your consultant as you execute research strategies.

We work with all of the vendors and can help you decide what to trend and track in-house and when it's more cost and time-efficient (today's margin for error is smaller than ever and the price of errors is larger than ever!!) to bring in a pro.

To start with, if you have the choice and your market is stable enough to permit you the luxury of not having to panic-schedule research in reaction to competitive surprises, A&O likes:

1. Full market strategic or (if you only own one station and do not plan a format switch under ANY circumstances) competitive face off perceptual study. Field this when the weather is as its worst and respondents will be home - January or February are NOT the months to do focus groups or an auditorium music test unless you live in Florida, Hawaii or a place with residents are so hardy (can you spell Alaska? Wisconsin? Minnesota?) that bad weather won't stop them from going out. Insist on having the responses to this 15-20 minute questionnaire six to eight weeks prior to the start of the spring book. Get all major decision-makers together, including your consultant, for a day away from the station to create an immediate action plan based upon it. A&O does an annual "Roadmap" online study for all of our clients, so that we can track key metrics nationally and benchmark locally. For many of our clients, this is enough to stay competitive as judged by your core, but when you see something you don't understand or know what to do about, that's a great time to talk to a researcher you trust to target a random sample, replicating the ratings methodology. It's not cheap, but it's a lot cheaper than taking action on bad data.

2. Music testing. Ideal: four 400-700 song tests annually, in the month prior to the start of each survey so that you freshen your entire library each book. And, if that is what your competition does, you better as well. Many stations do one annually and, in that case, I'd schedule it exactly six months away from the perceptual study (July-August), include written mini-perceptual questions during the breaks and invite participants to stay after for an informal focus group discussion on promotion and programming issues. A&O tracks a total of almost a thousand gold and recurrent titles annually in four quarterly online music tests which clients are encouraged to participate in. However, as helpful as this info is to trend evolving tastes of core listeners, there's only one way to find out about the music preferences of non-core listeners and that involves more than just using your loyal listener database to test music.

3. Focus groups/listener advisory panels can be used to probe issues that you may want to test more formally in the perceptual study. Or, as a qualitative followup when the data tells you that listeners are behaving in a way you do not fully understand. The key point with focus groups: know three to five action-based questions that you want answered. I would plan them in October-November and/or April-May to learn if listeners are aware of your marketing efforts and how your product is being perceived. Best: Tue-Wed-Thu (be done by 10 pm). Or, Saturday midday. Again, with today's online tools, there's no excuse for not doing this modern day equivalent of hanging out in a bar where your listeners go and asking questions, listening critically. However, again, it's crucial to understand the limitations of this and to know when to ask for a second opinion from someone who does this for a living and can take a more objective view on your behalf.

4. Weekly/biweekly online/callout/listener advisory panels. I also like a monthly 400 person in-house 'mini-rating' that trends station preference and cume, as well as tracking key strategic issues defined in the perceptual study and testing current/recurrent music two to four times per month. Don't waste your time doing it, however, if you are going to ignore the results or call for help when your results don't track with ratings. Draw your music test sample from a mix of core and cumers to your station, balanced based on the needs of your strategy.

5. Marketing/management by wandering around. Monthly or at least quarterly, invite two groups of 15 people chosen at random from the callout/online testing panel to meet at 6 and 8 pm with a member of station management who isn't known publicly - or your consultant - to discuss what they're hearing and reacting to. Mail out/email/place on your website weekly current music rating sheets that encourages at least 100 request line callers/contest players/at work database members to 'listen and rate the music." The larger this sample, the better. Balance it to be sure that males and younger demos are represented proportionally. It's not statistically valid, of course, and there's always a response bias to groups like this to beware of. However, it's amazing how candid even the folks who love your station the most can be.

6. Diary reviews/mechanical diary analysis. Every radio station should have a postal code map in the promotions office with: color-coded ARB/BBM returns by zip plus four and when available even QR code for both your station and meaningful competition. Collect zip code data in callout and database marketing as well. Correlate your loyalty marketing efforts on the geographical areas where you gain the highest AQH contributions and your conversion tactics in your competition's strongest locales.

Note: ARB mailed the 2011 Spring Diary Review brochures to all subscribers in early June and the first choices dates were allocated on June 23. A&O advises you to return the form, requesting a diary review EACH book. You can always cancel the request if you decide when the results come out that you won't need to do a diary review. BBM returns ballots to their regional offices a few weeks after each diary survey is published and now both ARB and BBM have terrific online and desktop software tools that enable you to see much of what you once could only get from a diary review from your own office.

As with everything else mentioned above, A&O will be happy to share our perspective as the next book comes out, show you how much you can still learn from a diary review you can't get anywhere else and can refer you to reasonably-priced experts who tab the data and create strategies from it every day.

There are too many low-cost/no-cost ways to stay in touch with your listeners today, there's simply no excuse for not knowing what your heaviest users think about your programming efforts and also your competition's as well.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Show Me Yours And I'll Show You Mine

This online database "perceptual" question was done by an A&O client in a PPM market. Now that they've identified the best marketing prospects for their morning show to email relevant listening appointments in their database, it will be fascinating to a) watch what they do that impacts daily regularity among these folks and b) if PPM is able to pick it up as well.

What percentage of the people in your loyal listener database listen to the radio every weekday morning?

If you managed to get the "lighter" radio users to use radio more regularly, would that have an impact on your cume?

They're in your database. What more can you do to impact their lives on a daily basis?

Monday, February 28, 2011

A&O Roadmap 2011: Repetition Complaints Down, But Still BIG

The “Repetition” trend over the last three years: 55%, 57% and now 53%.

Meanwhile, “Too Much New” complaints have been increasing from 20% in 2009 to 21% last year and 22% in this year's national online survey among A&O client country stations.