Friday, October 31, 2014

A Willing Buyer, A Willing Seller And A Clever Idea

.. but I have a few concerns before we go too much farther down this road.

Whether Colorado Broadcasters Association President/CEO Justin Sasso or a Nielsen researcher/affiliate rep came up with the concept, it's a brilliant win-win in any case, as 300+ Colorado broadcasters this week at the Doubletree in Grand Junction got a look at some of the latest information from Nielsen on the use of television, radio and other media sources.

Sasso highlighted the value of television and radio as sources that many throughout the state continue to use in receiving their news -- despite of the many newer media platforms developing online.  "We're trying to get people's heads around what's happening, instead of what they're reading in newspapers that these new media sources are taking over, and they're great, but in no way replacing radio and television." - News Channel 5's Jorma Duran

Inside Radio reported yesterday:  "other state associations have used presentations to reinforce the power of broadcasting, these were the first to use custom Nielsen data for a specific state.  Since many broadcasters in the state’s smaller markets aren’t Nielsen subscribers, the CBA commissioned Nielsen to crunch the Colorado numbers and license the data to its members to incorporate into their own presentations for one year."

Regional presentations took place in Ft. Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction to packed houses in three days, pulling off four regionally customized presentations compiled using Nielsen’s vast database.

The data was licensed from Nielsen, at the CBA’s expense, for one year. CBA members will be able to access the Nielsen data and incorporate pertinent information into their station presentations.

My take, for what it's worth:

It would be wonderful if the 49 other broadcast associations and Nielsen are able to get together to do the same thing regionally in every single state over the coming months to become a fully regional "Audio Today 2015!"

Of course, it would be a nice additional source of revenue for Nielsen, repurposing stats from a new angle that have already been paid for by subscribing radio and TV stations.

For that reason, I hope the price can be kept low and as other state broadcast groups negotiate for them with Nielsen.

I'd encourage the rating firm to use some of that "found money" from these projects to be very transparent about how they manage to merge the very different PPM, condensed market rolling average and very small sample county by county diary data which doesn't come out until the following April, in the year after it was collected.

Hopefully by going to respondent level, Nielsen can give our local clients in small markets all over the country fresh, very reliable regional usage data in as close to real time as possible.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Are You Still Programming Like It Was 2008?

For eight years nearly a hundred A&O&B clients have participated in the annual online "Roadmap" study, tracking trends in music, tech, non-music elements and other aspects of usage and images.

The attitudes change every year.  For example, just seven years ago the average listener ranked country leadership and giving away big contest prizes as the #1 and #2 reasons to pick a favorite.  Music quantity out-rated music quality.

Eight months ago, when we tabbed the 2014 results, the most important parameters in choosing a favorite changed radically:

Is your emphasis on key images outdated?

If you're still trying to bribe listeners with prizes and music quantity promises, you may be out of synch with today's audience, which now wants the best songs, more fun, friendly authenticity and good vibes compared to what they did just a few years ago.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There Is No "Average Country Radio Station"

It's never a good idea to program your radio station using "national average" research trends.

A few years ago, A&O&B asked the listeners to almost all of our client stations:

Just for fun, I went back to that study and pulled out the local data for the ten top-ranked morning shows in their local ratings.  No two of them mirrored the averages.

The one with the highest "DJ's" score's audience (24.41%) gave music 13.95% and "both" 61.65%.

The one with the highest "music" score (23.89%) had 16.38% DJ's and 59.73% "both."

The one with the highest "both" score (71.56%) had 16.64 primarily "DJ's" and 11.8% "music only."

All ten of these top-rated stations' listeners rated "DJ's" as more important than the average of the total sample, however.  Only one of them had "music" rate higher than the national average.

I'd say that would make the odds about nine to one that you won't win in the morning in the country radio format without great personalities who your listeners rate far better than "national average  personalities," but like any good coach you need to adjust the percentages you emphasize based on the caliber and mix of talent on your lineup.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Is Country Radio Too Dependent On Music?

NuVooDoo's strategic researchers have been sharing their radio format national perceptual trending on their blog for several years.  Recently, they've been probing the aspects of programming which "delight" the typical format listener.

If you ask what it was that surprised them other than a song, the answers tend to be contest prizes and funny morning show bits.  Well-designed contests hit the mark, as does genuinely humorous comedy.  While listeners rarely cite being pleasantly surprised by station imaging, we’re certain that there are instances of that among the 37% overall who were surprised in a good way by something other than a song in the past week.
   -- Leigh Jacobs

Pop CHR ranks #1 in its ability to please the audience with music and country comes in a close second in that measurement.

However, when they dug into the most pleasing non-music content, country radio ranks next to last when compared to eight other music formats.

Even worse, country's most pleasing non-music surprises come about once a month, compared to the other format listeners who get their surprises daily or at least weekly when compared to our P-1 listeners.

If the passion for country's music softens, as it historically always has about once a decade for every music style, almost all other formats are better positioned in the minds of their core in contest prizes, funny morning show bits and other program elements besides music images.

There's never a better time to measure your station-specific performance in driving usage and loyalty with non-music content than right now.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank You, Supreme Court

There are two kinds of consulting clients and A&O&B has our share of both, thankfully.

1.  Those who are aggressive and always want to know the latest tactics and strategies that will help them gain an "unfair/stealth" advantage over their competition.

2.  Management who does a great job selling marketing to others but believes radio is a terrific marketing medium which doesn't require any money be spent on external marketing beyond the "free" word of mouth that can be created by great over-the-air content and social media.

We love them both and have hundreds of case studies where both groups have been very successful doing things "their way."

Both #1 and #2 tend to believe that everyone else in broadcasting is like them.  #1 always wants to know what secret things their competition did to make their numbers rise and #2 tends to deny that anyone else spends the kind of money that marketing can take.

I hope both of them saw this:

So, many thanks to the highest court in the land for their decision last week.

It's great to know that calling someone and inviting them to try a new radio station is not the same as attempting to sell them anything.

As a bonus, we now have legal proof for those #2's among us that their competitive managers at the Rotary Club who deny ever doing it may not be telling them the whole truth.

(Now, if only Canada's regulators would come to a similar conclusion.  

I won't hold my breath...)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

This Changes Everything (Again For Yet Another Year)

Just as Canada celebrates Thanksgiving before it comes to the U.S., Numeris and Stats Can bring something to Canadian broadcasters before Nielsen and the Census Bureau do to American media.

On September 9th, A&O&B Canadian clients were reminded:

The demographic questions in the PPM questionnaire are designed to be comparable to Statistics Canada data where appropriate. The demographics relating to industry, occupation, first language learned and home language will be updated to reflect the 2011 census, data from which was made available in 2013.

The revised panel member questionnaires will be put into field in at the beginning of the 2014-2015 broadcast year. Questionnaires are administered to households when they join the panel and subsequently once a year on their anniversary date. All newly recruited PPM households will receive the revised questionnaires and all existing PPM panel households will receive the revised questionnaires on their anniversary date (as per current procedure).

Demographics for the Industry and Occupation questions will be populated through derivation from the existing answers. The new Industry and Occupation questions will be available for the start of the 2014-15 broadcast year.

The new language questions will take up to one year to become fully populated, and will be available at the beginning of the 2015-16 broadcast year. 


In the USA, the more-or-less the same things start to happen on October 1.

The update is a shorthand term for the massive set of demographic estimates and
projections produced for the Nielsen Pop-Facts products. Estimates consist of data
prepared for the current year, and projections (sometimes called forecasts) prepared
for dates five years in the future.

The update is brought up to date for many geographic levels including national, state, county, census tract, and block group. Data is also available for commonly-used areas such as metropolitan areas, cities/towns, ZIP Codes, and media areas such as DMAs. Because it is produced for small areas, the update can be easily aggregated to custom geographic areas specified by the user.

The update begins with the estimation and projection of base counts, such as total population, household population, group quarters population, households, family households, and housing units. Characteristics related to these base counts are then estimated. Population characteristics include age, sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity.

Households are estimated by age of householder and income. Owner-occupied housing units are estimated by value.

What does this mean to you?

It's highly likely that your station's shares are going to change at least slightly as a result of these updates being made right now.  The only reason they wouldn't would be if you serve an area that hasn't changed in any way since last year and the last census.  Highly unlikely, since even if all other things were stable, everyone got one year older.

Anyone who wants to fully understand their competitive situation simply must fully understand, stay up-to-date with and react to population changes in every market and demographic they target.

As with all things in audience measurement:  it's as much about what they do as what you do!

Monday, October 06, 2014

I Completely Fell Apart

Another true-life lesson, shared in hopes it teaches you something that you don't need to learn the hard way, like I did.

I played trombone in my high school band and orchestra.

It never felt like I was all that talented as a musician, but since I moved up to first chair and eventually my band director encouraged me to enter a regional solo competition, I suppose I was good enough.

However, that Saturday morning in Canton, Ohio, in a school room when my piano accompanist got to the place where I was to come in, I cracked.

Suddenly, my memory was gone.  I had practiced.  I had rehearsed.  I had memorized, but when it was my turn to perform, I lost everything.  My embouchure collapsed.

I didn't play very much, and what I did play was terrible.  I had sounded better in my very first lesson many years before.

I wanted to run and hide as the pianist played her part perfectly.

What I learned:  it's not enough to "prepare." 

From then on, I vowed to always OVER-prepare.

Prepare beyond being ready, beyond knowing your part, past perfect execution.

How did it work out?  A few years later, auditioning for my university band and orchestra, I made the cut.  I've won more than my share of broadcast awards in the intervening years as well.

My hope:  you never have to go through the complete humiliation I had to experience as an adolescent in order to learn how crucial over-prep on everything is.

 I've always wondered what and who (click to read his parents' story if you're not aware of it) it took for the likes of Richard Sherman or Russell Wilson (another powerful tale) to learn that lesson at such a young age.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

No Words


"Our plan may not have been the most elegantly or artfully executed of all possible plans, but we actually understand what it is we think we are trying to do and why we think we're trying to do it," Mr. Metheny told the Tribune in 2010.

A Toast: May we all be able to say as much when our time comes!