The good news is that radio still is the number one audio reach medium.
The challenges right now and
people using radio is down, I
mean up to 20% across the board.
Fewer people listening to radio and
we don't know if we're coming back.
Welcome to BRANDwidth On Demand,
your Guide to Rebooting Radio.
I kinda looked for two things.
How is Nielsen performing?
How's the sample doing?
'cause we always tell our clients,
you don't pay Nielsen for ratings.
You pay them for sample
VO: BRANDwidth on Demand.
Rebooting radio with a different
take on all radio can be.
Now your guides through the metamorphosis.
David Martin and author of
the book BRANDwidth, media
branding Coach Kipper McGee.
Dave: This time around, our guest brings
a wealth of programming experience to us.
He's programmed in Washington d C
Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati, and he's
held corporate programming positions
for A M F M and Clear Channel.
He's a self-described data geek and
understands the needs and challenges of
programmers In today's radio environment,
he serves as programming research
consultant for the research director Inc.
BRANDwidth On Demand is
proud to welcome Steve Allen.
Kipper: Hey, welcome.
Steve: Thanks for having me.
It's really nice.
I appreciate it.
Kipper: So today we're talking ratings
and to really take things to their core.
What do you see as the key performance
indicators, the KPIs that rating services
like Nielsen or Eastland provide?
And more importantly, what are the very
first things you look for when you're
checking out the performance of a client
station or even their competition?
Steve: Obviously ratings and ranking
and share and all that stuff is what
everybody looks at, but we peek under
the hood and I kinda look for two things.
How is Nielsen performing?
How's the sample doing?
'cause we always tell our clients,
you don't pay Nielsen for ratings.
You pay them for sample.
And if they are, supposed to give you
X number of meters or diaries, you
wanna make sure you hit that mark.
But even deeper than that, Nielsen does
a pretty good job on a six plus basis.
But you really wanna look
at your target demos.
So let's say you're targeting women
35, 44, and the index is, When
waiting kicks in, that can really
have an effect on your numbers.
And we see that happen all the time.
Beyond that, and that's one of
the services we provide is the
kind of like the ratings whisper.
But then beyond that there's, there
are certain things we like to look at.
How's your t s L compared
to the market, right?
If you have a good healthy market, P
S L, are you getting your fair share?
How are you doing on rotating people
through day parts and vertically and
horizontally recycling them, getting those
occasions and how obviously the, obviously
is how you're performing in your key
demographics and versus your competition.
But yeah some things beyond just,
AQH, TSL and Cume, can tell you
whether your station's doing well.
And on top of that I like
to take a longer view.
If you just look at one book, so many
things can happen in one book that you
really can't base it on, on, on one book.
You have to look at the longer trend.
And keep in mind that our, our
mantra is there are four things that
will affect your ratings, right?
Something you've done.
You change your music, change
your morning show whatever format,
something your competitor has done.
Something big has happened
in the marketplace.
Christmas music, the best example of that.
Orel, we so all those factors play
in to see how well you are doing.
And what do you look for
Dave: overall, Steve, when you're sitting
down with a client station and taking
a look at the the most recent full
quarter numbers what are you looking for
when you're looking at those numbers?
Steve: If we've been with them for a
while, we wanna see how the station's
trending and what their goals are.
What do they expect?
Is this a station that it's
expected to, be a top five
performer or is this a flaker?
They're just trying to hurt somebody else.
So it really depends on what the needs
are, and then we want to give them a
reality check on what's really happening
over time with their numbers in Nielsen.
Kipper: Steve, we're hearing lots about
the decrease in even demise of radio
as a distribution platform or device.
Which leads us to the question, what
trends are you seeing ratings wise in
the consumption of audio and especially
There's good news and there's bad news.
The good news is that radio
still is the number one audio
reach medium without question.
It gets everywhere.
And while we are not at the
levels we were, let's say 20 years
ago, it's still pretty robust.
The challenges right now and the
pandemic certainly accelerated.
This is home is down.
People using radio is down,
up to 20% across the board.
Fewer people listening to radio
and we don't know why, and we don't
know if they're coming back now.
People are not in their car
as much as they used to be.
So if they're only working three days a
week versus five, that's potentially 40%
of their weekday listening has gone away.
There's certainly a demo problem.
Radio is increasingly an older medium.
Not unusual for markets to have
their median listening age, right
around 50 people under the age of 35.
Especially under the age of 24,
oftentimes don't even listen
to all radio for an hour a day.
So that radio does have a youth problem.
And the third thing, and I think,
we're gonna talk about digital
and stuff there's, there's a hefty
number, a percentage of the population
depending on the market that does
not even have a radio in their house.
And that sometimes could
be as high as 30, 35%.
At the same time, smart speaker
penetration, as we know, has leveled off.
Everybody bought one with the
pandemic and now they're like,
eh, do I really need Alexa?
But that's not even at 50%.
So the thought that Alexa would
replace your in-home radio,
it, there's some of that there.
Maybe the real opportunity for
radio is the mobile apps, right?
Because we know that basically
97% of people have a smartphone.
So if you're trying to reach people beyond
your stick, that's a good way to do it.
Kipper: One question that some of my
clients have been struggling with is the
idea of total line reporting, especially
versus splitting off their streams
for different commercials and whatnot.
So first, tell us about total
line reporting and for stations
that don't practice it.
Might that be impacting
Steve: their ratings?
No, not yet.
Nielsen the whole odd I, the idea
behind Nielsen one is to someday be
the, the one ring to rule 'em all right?
Where they, it's television, it's
digital, it's radio, it's everything.
And they could just sit there
and go, boom, here's your number.
They're not there yet.
They were close with a system called
s, I think SDK years ago, where
they were gonna encode every single.
Audio player on the internet.
But that fell through.
We're not sure why.
It's still the same thing we
dealt with for 20, 30, 40 years.
It's recall, it's, I
listen from nine to five.
No one listens from nine to five.
People have to go to the bathroom.
So it's you didn't see the decline in
listening and time spent listening as
much in diary markets as you have in P M.
And PPM is reality.
I'll say this, give Nielsen it to do, man.
The meter works.
It does a very accurate job, not
only of measuring what it hears,
but if you extrapolate from that,
it shows your listener behavior.
If you really dig into the numbers, you
can see, you get a better picture of
how people actually use the service.
Dave: Steve, what's your counsel to
stations on streaming and podcasting?
Steve: I, podcasting, eh, I think the
value for podcasting right now for
radio from a ratings perspective is
if you've got a, a big personality
and you can get somebody to listen
to their bits within, I think it's
24 hours, you'll get credit for it.
Otherwise it's a money play if
you can make money off of it.
Streaming, I will be upfront saying
that as a company, and we are big
believers in total line reporting.
That said, it's a
business decision, right?
'cause first off, if you're
gonna encode your stream, you
gotta pay an extra fee of Neil.
So there's a cost involved.
Secondly, if you can monetize your
stream at a higher rate than what
the stream numbers will help you.
Then by all means, do that.
And third, Nielsen does a awful
job and they've admitted it, of
recording, streaming on earbuds, right?
They have a headphone adjustment,
but there's no way they can
accurately reflect that.
We've looked at backend, server side
numbers from clients and the actual number
of listeners compared to what Nielsen
registers, it's, the gap is humongous.
That all said.
That if you are total line reporting and
let's say you are, your station's getting
a point, you're one of, eight stations
in the market with a 0.3 rating, right?
And we all know that's rounding, right?
That 0.3, somewhere between 0.250
and 0.349 that 0.3 may be a 0.340.
And you get an extra 200
aqh from your stream.
All of a sudden that 0.3 came becomes
a 0.4 and your sales manager realizes
that their rating has gone up 33%.
And in big markets, how
much is a point worth?
It's millions of dollars.
Kipper: so one question that some
of my stations have had trouble
wrapping their head around at first
is the idea of total line reporting.
So first of all, can you tell
us what is total line reporting?
And then for stations that don't
practice it, what could be the impact?
Steve: The start with p M is extremely
accurate in recording listening.
They, and I shouldn't say listening what
it hears technically, it's what it hears.
Very accurate of it.
Very precise in exactly how long someone
is tuned into a particular product.
Whereas diary is 100% recall and
we know from years of experience
that, some people fill it out at the
end of the day, but probably more
people out at the end of the week.
It's Thursday through Wednesday.
And so there.
I just ask anybody listening, sit
down tonight and reconstruct your
lunch menu for the last week.
And see if you could actually remember
exactly what you ate every day.
You probably can't.
But you wrote, you would
remember what you like to eat.
And I probably had a
ham sandwich on Tuesday.
It's the same way with diary, right?
It's like my favorite radio station is x.
So I know I listen to them and I
get to the office at nine and I
have them on at my desk until five.
And I don't take into account the
fact that I had a bathroom break,
three meetings and a phone call.
So you know, it over inflates the
listening and also the difference
between the two is that you underestimate
the number of stations you listen to.
Because all the meter has to do is
pick up five minutes of non-continuous
listening in a quarter hour to
give you credit for a station.
So if you know you go into the
deli for lunch and they're playing
another station that you never
listened to, but you're standing
in line for 10 minutes, guess what?
You're now in their queue.
The other thing is sample, right?
P M is panel based, so it'sto:
or whatever your market size is.
People every single day.
Every week of the pa every day
of the 28 day survey for diary.
It's an entirely new sample every week.
And especially if you're in a continuous
diary measurement market and you're
looking at three book average at 36
weeks, that's 36 different samples where,
now there's a yin and the yang to that.
The good news for the diary people is
that if they didn't find your people
in week one, they might find them in.
The problem with the P M
sample is households can be
locked in for up to two years.
And if all of a sudden and you
see this a lot like the Christian
contemporary stations where they'll
get a couple of heavy households and
all of a sudden they're a top five
station for a year, and then those two
households leave and they drop to eight.
And we see that with formats.
Formats go hot and cold based on
a lot of times on panel because
there's not enough of that particular
format's fan base in the sample.
Dave: Our guest is Steve Allen,
the Nielsen Audio Whisperer and
Programming research consultant
for the Research Director, Inc.
We've got links to the research director
and some info you may not have seen plus
Steve's blog and more just scroll down
Kipper: And we'd appreciate it.
If you do us a favor, just pass this
podcast along to other people in your
company or your circle of radio friends.
Our mission is to help you level up
your game by hearing from the top
media thought leaders like Steve.
On air hosts, program directors,
and others that you usually only
see at a conference or convention.
Dave: Yeah, think of BRANDwidth On
Demand as your unconventional convention.
Episodes of about 15 minutes
at a time, on demand.
Steve shares some of the
best advice he's ever gotten.
Spot: Hi, this is Dave Tyler from
Musicmaster Scheduling, here with
another Musicmaster Raving fan.
Hi, I'm jeff McCarthy, Vice
President of Programming for Duke
Wright's Midwest Communications.
Why do we succeed?
Using Musicmaster for over 30 years!
There now you know our secret.
Ready to become a Musicmaster raving fan?
Get in firstname.lastname@example.org slash sales.
Kipper: Hey, there.
If your station is so many others,
begging out for some sort of station
merchandise for sale or even to give
away, but the budget says Uhuh, your
solution could be just a click away.
Check out radio swag shop.
It's in the show notes or simply go
to radio swag shop.com/kipper, your
audience and your budget will thank you.
VO: Listen today, lead
tomorrow BRANDwidth on Demand.
Dave: We're with Steve Allen,
the go-to data guy for us.
He's the programming research consultant
for the Research Director Inc.
Hey, Steve, what's the best piece of
advice that you were given in your
career so far, either in your PD days or
now, and then what one piece of advice
would you give to someone in charge of
brand management or programming today?
Steve: I can't think of a specific
moment where someone said, do this right.
I can recall early in my career when
I got my first big break on the air,
it was a W Light in Washington dc.
I was a night guy and Bob Hughes
was the program director Bob Hughes.
Just a brilliant programming mind.
And Bob, I would come in early often
and Bob would stay late often, and
we would just sit in his office.
I'm just some schmuck kid, that's
just started, doing full-time there.
And we would play the what if game.
What if, whether it was music scheduling
or promotions or songs or whatever, most
of it didn't get done but his willingness
to sit there and banter back and forth
with me and just, actually care what I
thought and entertain the ideas really
opened up a lot of doors for me mentally.
And I think I tried to carry that through.
My programming career, and even now
it's let's talk about what we could do.
And so that was the most valuable
thing that I can remember early on
that really influenced what I did
as far as the advice I would give.
Now, if you're managing talent, which
brand managers are, and operations
director, you're managing talent, you
really have to manage to those people.
They're a different breed.
And they, they you could joke that
it's like herding cats, but they're
all individuals and you want that.
You wanna enhance that individuality
and you want to, you wanna
really manage to your people.
There is no such thing as one size
fits all in creative management.
Some of your people need to be
coddled, some need to be cajoled,
some to be challenged, some need
to be the left alone, right?
I think as a manager, it's
your job to figure out what.
Buttons to push or not to push
on your people, put them in
the best position to succeed.
Dave: Great advice.
Our thanks to Steve Allen, links to his
website, some great articles and more
all in our regular show notes email.
We send it out before every
episode and you can easily get it.
Just scroll down on your
phone for a free subscription.
Kipper: We'd like to thank
our exec producer Cindy Huber
for putting this together.
Also, associate producer
Hannah B for booking.
And coming up next...
Holland: News will be
the Savior of News Talk.
I'm Holland Cooke and in the next
BRANDwidth On Demand, we all know it.
Political talk changes.
You already know today what they're
gonna say 'cause they said it yesterday.
But the news is changing from moment to
moment and I will tell you three ways
to make your newscast instantly better.
Dave: That's a wrap Kipper.
One of the secrets of
success is endurance.
We'll talk about it in one minute.
Find it in show notes at
BRANDwidth On Demand.com.
I'm Dave Martin.
Kipper: And I'm Kipper McGee.
May all your BRANDwidth be WIDE!.