Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

Posts Tagged ‘radio sales’

Radio Spot Loads – the Solution

Posted by Steve on March 26, 2010

Summary:

  1. The “Tipping Point” for terracasters is rapidly approaching
  2. Use Arbitron PPM data to test commercial load on your station
  3. Superserve your P1 audience now, before it’s too late

Background

A lot of digital ink has been spilt on the subject of how many units of advertising a radio station can support without losing listeners. Sean Ross of Edison Research started the ball rolling last week with his article in Ross on Radio, “It’s Time to Rethink your Spotload, Now.” A follow-up was written by Jim Kerr, of Triton Digital Media, entitled “Spotloads, Perception, and Listener Tolerance.”

Great points are made by both Tom and Jim. All radio people, whether “traditional” or “new” media types – need to pay close attention to how their spot loads effect listener behavior. For terracasters (I am floating this as a much easier term to use than “terrestrial broadcasters,” or “traditional radio”), the problem is like a cancer. It’s a small thing, poised to grow exponentially when the right set of circumstances align themselves.

The Issue

Right now, there are few realistic alternatives for most people who are in-car and listening to the radio. Sure, there’s iPods, streaming Pandora through iPhones and Androids, Sirius/XM and good old fashioned cassette decks. But most people don’t want to mess with this stuff. It’s the blinking clock syndrome. It’s hard enough to manage sending a text while you’re driving, let alone mess with the rest of this stuff.

The tipping point comes when easy, straightforward access to alternative channels comes to the major environments where people listen to terracasters today. We are still early in the adoption curve. It will take about 4 years for this tipping point to occur. Why? Because mass-market automobiles are just now being introduced with these kinds of features in them. As they filter out into the market, more people will become aware of them and begin to use the technologies. By 2014, these cars will begin to enter the resale market en masse and THAT’s when the tipping point occurs. When ordinary, average Americans can pick up a car with these technologies in the dashboard at their local “Ernie’s Auto” corner car lot, the tide will begin to turn dramatically.
incar alternative audio adoption curve.png
This doesn’t mean that terracasters have 4 or five years to figure out the commercial spot load thing. Today’s behavior is a result of repetition of behavior from yesterday and the day before. Begin today to calculate the optimal spot load for your P1 listener group. How?

The Solution

Arbitron’s PPM data provides the best solution for determining listener behavior on a granular level. Without spending tons of money on third-party software (you could, but you don’t have to), you can use Arbitron’s PPM Analysis Tool to dig deep into the behavior of your listener.

Running this test will take some guts. You’ll have to very methodically tinker with your station’s spot count, positioning, and other variables you think could effect a P1’s behavior. You’ll have to wait for the relevant PPM data to be released. You’ll have to analyze it, then rinse and repeat. Run this kind of testing for 6 months or so. In the end, you’ll know what the magic number is for your listener. The problem is, of course, that that number is only good for today. It will change over time, so you must repeat this test frequently.

If you start this process today, determine what your magic number is, and implement whatever business process is necessary to make sure that you implement the spot count limit by 2012, you should be well-prepared for the tipping point.

Or, you could just run a maximum of 8 minutes, spread 2-3-3 and be done with it.

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Happy 2010!

Posted by Steve on January 4, 2010

Phil Bernstein is a blogger in Portland, Oregon. He’s also an account manager with Portland’s Clear Channel radio stations. And he writes about advertising. He’s on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, too.

Writing about marketing so that his customers can see his thinking differentiates him from virtually every other radio sales person out there.

This is the kind of person that is the future of radio – forward thinking and ready to tackle the marketing of his customers businesses with some marketing of himself. Hats off to Phil!

http://philbernstein.wordpress.com/

Posted in Advertising, Radio, Sales, Social Media | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Radio’s future – sure seems like the past to me…

Posted by Steve on November 2, 2009

Mark Ramsey has more good stuff on his blog in a week than most people do in their lifetime. Today is no exception. He posts about The Most Important Thing You’ll Read About Radio’s Future this Year. I read this once and said, “Yeah!” Then I read it again.

It suddenly hit me that this is where we were back in the 80s. Marketers were pushing us to become more invested with their marketing. We built teams at stations focused 100% on developing non-transactional business. We called it all sorts of things, from NTR to Vendor. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of bright marketing-oriented people joined these teams either from the ranks of radio sales or from the greater marketing community. We developed relationships with food brokers, wholesalers, marketers at CPG companies, and small marketing teams consulting CPG companies. We learned all about in-store display, push vs. pull marketing, consumer promotion, floor plans, vendor-funded marketing programs. Millions of dollars were invested by radio broadcasters to support these programs and they began to return their investment. We did not sell using Arbitron numbers. We sold using the results of the last program. And, those results were terrific! So, we were able to get more and more marketing dollars for the programs and give up less and less inventory on the station.

And then something happened.

The advertisers said, “You know, let’s go back to buying on Cost per Point. And, while we’re at it, you can throw in all that extra stuff as a freebie for just getting on the buy.” Radio managers caved. NTR/Vendor departments were decommissioned or turned into ghosts of themselves. Smart marketers left radio, were fired in consolidation moves, or they were sucked into the vortex of transactional radio business.

When I think about Mark’s article and the points he makes,

1. Act more like a marketing company than a media company.
2. Be organized around an audience and not a platform.
3. Work directly with marketers.
4. Not just create spaces for ads next to content, it’ll create whole media channels and platforms for brands
5. Employ technologists who can build device-agnostic platforms for marketers.
6. Know how to deliver instantaneous gratification when it comes to measurement, and it’ll be measuring outcomes not outputs. A rating…stat is not going to be enough in the future, and certainly not when it’s presented weeks after the fact.

I can’t help but remember what these same marketers have done time and time again – when it suits their need, they go back to twisting radio’s arm with commodity pricing. And radio lets them do it.

Don’t let them do it again.

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Ratings, Radio, Sales – The Debate Goes On

Posted by Steve on July 30, 2009

Chuck Francis, VP New Media at RemergeMedia.com, wrote a well-received article in Radio Business Report recently called “A New Day for Radio.”

Chuck makes the valid point that, in truth, ratings don’t matter, except to “…those that provide ratings.” However, this common-sense statement misses the mark. Yes, it’s not the ratings that matter to the listener or the advertiser. It’s the thing that the ratings represent.

For example, Chuck says:

In the years I spent as a Program Director I cannot recall one single instance where a listener came up to me at an event or a remote and said: “the reason I listen to your station is because your station the number one station.” In fact, even if your station is 13th in the market – I’d argue you’re number one in the minds of the people that listen to you regularly.

One of the reasons that a listener is loyal to a station is because of its reputation among her peers. The listener doesn’t look at the ratings and make a rational decision about whether or not to listen to a station because it’s #1 in one category or another, but she does decide whether to listen partially based on her peer group’s relationship to the station. The ratings are a surrogate for this – they tell us roughly how many and what kind of people are listening to each station. They tell us about the listeners’ peer groups.

On the advertiser side, the ratings are a surrogate for a true measure of results. In the absence of a way to directly measure the ability of a station to deliver results for a specific product, the ratings system was developed in an attempt to predict what will happen if you run a spot on a station.

Those stations who achieve success without ratings have found other ways to measure their reputation with their audience and to predict the results their advertisers will have when they run a spot on the station. However, I suspect that these substitutes for ratings remain surrogates of a direct measurement of reputation or results.

TRA, a research firm in New York, is developing a very interesting way to measure results in TV advertising… a methodology which could well be transferred to radio and other media. Instead of measuring how many people are viewing a particular program, TRA measures how many people actually were exposed to a specific ad and how many of those people actually purchased the product being advertised. This is similar in many ways to the work that was done on Arbitron and Nielsen’s suspended Project Apollo, but TRA is processing millions of households’ viewing data and matching it up against their purchasing data. As this platform matures and is able to capture not only TV viewing but also other forms of media, we will move away from the surrogacy of ratings and towards the direct measurement of the results of radio campaigns.

Of course, it is not likely that this direct measurement of results will be applicable for all advertisers, particularly local retailers. As data is developed inferences will be possible that are much more precise than today’s rating system. TRA could syndicate their data in such a way as to provide local decision-makers tools to determine which media selections are best for their businesses.

Direct response radio marketers are measuring this today, for their clients. One particularly sophisticated firm, Strategic Media, has literally written the book on the subject. Through extensive testing and results measurement, they have built very detailed databases of the stations and creative execution that works best for their clients. Perhaps local radio can learn from this and develop similar data for their advertisers to use.

Please share your views on this subject by commenting on this article.

Posted in Advertising, Media Research, Radio, Sales | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Interview with Ernest H. Clay of ARB

Posted by Steve on April 4, 2009

I found an archived interview of Ernest H. Clay of ARB, circa 1960, on the subject of TV ratings as they stood at the time. Very informative and many of the questions raised are the same that we hear today. Listen here.

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