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Monday Memo: PPM Myths Debunked

| February 11, 2019

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — In PPM markets, call letters DO still matter, maybe more than with diaries.  PPM measures use, awareness drives use.  And PPM measures all use, by a small sample, so awareness matters lots.

In non-metered markets, Nielsen Audio uses diaries and Eastlan makes phone calls.  None of these methodologies changes your audience.  It’s like the speedometer in your car.  It displays MPH and KPH.  You’re driving as-fast-as you’re driving.

 Come again!

By any yardstick, Time Spent Listening is about number of occasions, and duration-per.

  • Old school thinking: How long (duration) per-occasion can we keep ‘em listening?
  • Reality: It’s unlikely we’ll keep someone in-a-parked-car-with-the-key-on-Accessories.
  • New think, affirmed by PPM measurement: How often can we get ‘em to tune-in?

Mathematically, top-performing stations have much higher daily cume than also-ran stations.

  • So DO promote, off-air, to invite sampling; and
  • Cause listeners-who-take-that-bait to use you as many times as possible.

As my longtime consulting associate Mike McVay — now Cumulus’ Mr. Programming — always preached to our clients:

  • “Identify the radio station regularly. If the audience doesn’t remember who you are, where you are, they won’t be able to come back to you.”
  • “When you buy a 12-pack of Coca-Cola and take it home, and open the carton, you’ll find that each can is painted with a Coke logo.”

Round-off teases.

I try not to scoff when I hear well-intentioned hosts plug something-coming-up “in seventeen minutes” or “at six fifty-three,” as though listeners were taking notes.

DO make an appointment with listeners for what’s coming up.  But simply say that it’s “coming up.”  Spare busy motorists the math with non-round numbers. When life’s a blur, nobody thinks they can wait seventeen minutes.

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice