Is Anyone Listening?

By David Kidd, BPR

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. 

We’ve all heard those quotes….and they’re spot on.

The problem radio faces in measuring our medium is that while the standard metric in most countries around the world is “share of listening” some stations focus simply on cume or reach.

Cume is only half the story, albeit an important one. However, cume treats every listener equally….it doesn’t matter if they listened to your station for just 15 minutes in a week or for 15 hours.

Share of listening is a combination of cume (how many listeners you have) and Time Spent Listening (how long did they listen or consumption). Consumption levels are important for most industries.

Take a restaurant for example. The owner needs to know how many different customers he has coming in per month (reach). But the owner also needs to know how many times they come in per month and how much they spend.

Someone who dines once a month and spends $100 a visit is less valuable to the restaurateur than someone who dines at the restaurant four times a month and spends $200 a visit. This is consumption….much like TSL in radio.

From a sales perspective, sure you can say that Station A has one million listeners per week if indeed the official ratings state that. But it is misleading if a client thinks that a campaign will reach every single one of the million.


Yeh, that’s sales. Why is this important for me, I’m a program director?

Program directors generally know the importance of TSL but not all of them understand every aspect of how TSL impacts their station.

From a programing perspective, the program director is deluding him/herself if they think that a contest pre-promotional campaign will be heard by every listener.

Some stations have extremely strong cume figures but low TSL, due to a range of factors such as the number of stations in the competitor set, the nature of the format itself and the market overall. Other formats such as Talk traditionally have lower cume than music stations but much higher TSL.

One of BPR’s client stations has a cume of over one million listeners aged 10+. Let’s call it Station XYZ. A sensational result. TSL however is just 2h 30m. The issue……there are a dozen stations in the nationality targeted competitor set. The highest TSL in the competitor set is 2h 45m, the lowest 2h 6m. The low TSL is just a fact of life when targeting this segment.


What can I do to make sure they heard my message?

A program director needs to know how many listeners will actually hear the campaign once, twice and three times.

3+ reach (ie a listener has heard the spot at least three times) is generally considered to be the standard for effective cut through.

Conduct a simple Reach & Frequency exercise to determine how many spots is required to achieve effective cut though for a campaign…… may be surprised at how few people actually knew about a promotion by the time active contesting started.

R&F isn’t just an effective sales tool; it’s a powerful programming tool as well.

Let’s go back to Station XYZ above.  A promo scheduled every two hours, 24 hours a day, for all seven days would have an effective 3+ reach of just 20% in the first week of pre-promote ie the campaign failed to achieve effective cut through with 80% of its one million plus cume!

What’s the point in running a contest or promotion if 80% of your audience isn’t aware of it by the launch date?



No comments on this post yet, start a discussion below!

Join the discussion