Last week, the latest Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) listenership figures were released by the Broadcast Research Council (BRC). The release heralds some significant changes in audience research including: a change of research company; a change in the sample size; and a more detailed analysis of listening patterns.
The RAM data provides more information than was previously available, but are the RAM figures really useful in guiding advertising buying decisions? Sure, they give an overview of who the station attracts from a broad demographic perspective, but they don’t give much of an insight into the individual listener.
Advertising legend, David Ogilvy once said, “Don’t count the people you reach, reach the people who count.” One of the laziest marketing questions asked of a station is, ‘How many listeners do you have?’. A far better question is, ‘How many of my potential consumers/clients are listening to your station/show?’
I often illustrate this point with an analogy of an airline having six first-class tickets to New York for a flight next week, which they wish to sell in a hurry. Does the airline advertise on a station that has huge numbers, or would it be better served to go to a small community station (whose audience is statistically insignificant according to RAMS and RAM), but who has an audience with the means and the propensity to purchase the tickets? The obvious answer is to go where they have the highest probability of selling the tickets.
A far better question is, ‘How many of my potential consumers/clients are listening to your station/show?’
Marketing budgets are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of company chief financial officers, and with marketers being held accountable for their expenditure and having to generate and report on a return on expenditure shouldn’t marketers be demanding more information from stations, particularly about who is listening to the station?
Stations today have a wealth of information about their listeners, mostly volunteered by listeners’ interaction with the station across several channels – particularly social media. This interaction provides insights far more relevant than the broad demographics provided by RAM.
I recently encountered a company who has developed software that collates all the data provided by listeners through their social media interaction with the station. The software then looks at other bits of information about each listener and can provide some really cool intelligence and insight into the station’s audience – information that will assist marketers in making far better-informed decisions. Additionally, the information is readily available in near real-time thus allowing marketers more accurate targeting. The data is not competitive to RAM, it just provides deeper insight.
This technology is going to disrupt the advertising market as marketers will be able to incentivise consumers with vouchers or coupons that are redeemable, thus increasing the measurability of the advertising campaign.
Planners and marketers are going to have to use more insight into a station rather than just throwing some numbers together using a programmatic buying tool to cough up a schedule. And clients are going to have to be more discerning in how and where they spend their budget and they are going to have to pay attention to the “who” as opposed to the “how many”.