Arbitron Client Conference: Day 1

| December 6, 2012

Time Spent Listening about…Time Spent Listening

by Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

ANNAPOLIS — If the wistful Kenny G. Christmas music wafting through the hotel is nearly-drowned-out by the sound of 250 people typing, it can only be…Arbitron’s Client Conference.

This is an annual Who’s Who of radio Programming, and everyone here admits to the nerdy curiosity necessary to digest a two-day meeting about audience measurement.  I do a half-dozen media conventions a year, and I always extract more “take-home pay” from this one than any other.

Here are my notes from day one.  More here tomorrow, and more Monday.

We have company.

Nerd vocabulary update: Forget P.U.R.  Say hello to P.U.M.M.  That’s “Persons Using Radio” and “Persons Using Measured Media,” respectively.  This PPM-speak is a snapshot of the landscape on-which AM/FM broadcasters now compete.

Various speakers described radio’s challenges and opportunities in the modern media matrix.  Advertising agencies used to have Radio departments.  Now they have Audio departments, which share dollars with streaming and other new-platform competitors.

It’s enough to give a radio person an inferiority complex, but it shouldn’t, as Radio Advertising Bureau President Erica Farber urged: “We should be proud we’re in radio!  We have nothing to apologize for.”  And she begs that we “purge ‘terrestrial’ from your vocabulary.”

And Farber didn’t mince words when she pointed to a common consequence of expense cutbacks: Many station commercials “stink,” after many stations have eliminated Creative departments, and have Sales reps bang-out sound-alike commercial copy.

Imperative: Social Media

We’ve all seen the user adoption data.  Facebook and Twitter are now be-there-or-be-square tools for broadcasters, yet are still new-enough tools that “anyone claiming to be experienced in Social Media is lying,” according to Arbitron Digital Media Manager Jacquelyn Bullerman.

Starting-with-a-strategy – rather than simply “committing random acts of Social” — is the key, according to Bullerman and several others presenting research data and success templates.

Radio should use Social Media to accomplish 3 things:

* Brand Awareness

*  Expand Listenership

*  Maintain Listening Loyalty

Social content execution Do’s and Don’ts:

* “Keep the ‘social’ in social media.”  It’s a conversation, not a broadcast.  DON’T just use Social to “feed” content.

* Copy that works as an on-air read doesn’t necessarily work as Social content.

* Don’t sound like a promo.  Don’t say “keep listening for your chance to call in and win.”

* Ads you put on social should tell stories, not pitch.  “Personalize, insert yourself” and engage.

Affirming these themes, Minnesota Twins Senior Manager of Corporate Communications Chris Iles detailed his team’s Social Media experience and goals.  The Twins radio network is on 88 stations in 5 states, and what the team is doing to “socialize baseball” is instructive to broadcasters.

First things first: Specific 2013 goals:

* Increase the Twins’ Social following to more than 1.25M, from their present 785K Facebook Fans and 110K Twitter Followers.

* Increase revenue conversion [ticket revenue + sponsorships] through Social to more than $180K

Echoing Jacquelyn Bullerman’ advice to “tell stories” on these platforms, Iles shared that the Twins Social content is roughly 80% “cool, fun, behind-the-scenes stuff,” and 20% marketing messages.  His advice seems readily applicable to active radio stations, whose local personalities and celebrity connections and listener events translate well to Social platforms.

Best tip he offered, based on the team’s early success: “Social Media is ego-driven, so give people an incentive to promote themselves by promoting your brand.”

Example: The Twins and other teams now engage by inviting fans to Tweet messages and photos-taken-in-the-stadium to Jumbotron screens and team web sites, often offering prizes.

“Inside the Minds of Radio’s Heavy Listeners”

This session alone was worth the trip to Annapolis, as you’ll see when you see it.

The #1 headline that emerges from the pile of data we’ve seen since Arbitron implemented the Portable People Meter is that your station’s quickest path to Share growth is to attain more occasions of listening from listeners-who-listen-to-your-station-most, so-called “First Preference” or “P1” listeners..

If you’re a GM, read that last sentence to the on-air talent nagging that all your problems will be solved if you simply spend-spend-spend to hang his/her face, King Kong-size, on billboards over the Interstate.

Yes, inviting new cume is an ongoing need.  But, mathematically, you’ll move the needle quicker by extracting more Time Spent Listening by getting your P1s to keep-coming-back more times during the week.

So knowing – really understanding — these heavy listeners is critical; and what Scarborough Research Senior VP, Print & Digital Media Services Gary Meo shared with us sliced-and-diced high-Average Quarter Hour-contributing radio users’ media use and interests.

I won’t even try to bullet-point this useful, data-rich presentation, which you can download in its entirety, and which you should share and discuss over conference room pizza.  I’ve linked to Meo’s slide deck at www.HollandCooke.com

See my notes on Day 2 of the conference here.

See/hear/read more from consultant Holland Cooke at www.HollandCooke.com; and follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke.

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Category: Analysis