Managers are increasingly under scrutiny to “do things differently” – and rightly so. As we’ve observed before, Einstein is said to have defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. As radio adapts to its latest set of new competitors and embraces the possibilities of new technology, it’s important to both look for new opportunities and review all the “things we’ve always done” to make sure they make sense in 2017.
Radio would be wise to immerse itself in the emerging podcast world. NPR has proven that convenient, frictionless, terrestrial radio is a great launchpad for podcasts. All you need is decent production, content that’s highly interesting to an audience and a reasonable way for potentially-interested audience members to connect with your content.
Too often, however, stations are trying to jump into podcasting simply by putting a day’s full-length morning show online to be downloaded. The bar is higher than that. You can easily imagine that there could be strong upside for a morning show to offer podcast(s) built around the best on-air moments. The resulting podcasts might include NSFW moments that couldn’t make it to the radio. The podcasts might include a behind-the-scenes narrative from the show’s host(s) describing what was going on in the studio. The possibilities go on and on and will depend on the personalities on the show and their connection with listeners.
Public affairs programs could have a second life in podcast form. The highly-targeted groups in a market who are interested in the topics covered would form a passionate and deliverable audience. Yes, they’re narrow audiences, but podcasting potentially gives much greater life to these programs, widens their impact and could be highly valuable to the right advertiser.
Doing things differently might also involve using different vendors or different techniques to make music decisions. As Nielsen has moved past relying primarily on residential telephones as a first point of contact for its samples, it’s wise to do the same for station music research. The panoply of new tools available to look at interest in new songs and how audiences react to airplay can be very informative.
Gauging consensus across a station’s entire potential reach, however, requires a screened, passively-collected, statistically-valid, representative sample of a station’s audience. It used to require callout, but now online sample and data collection have turned that into what we at NuVoodoo call Online Music Research: full-sized, screened, passively-collected samples giving reactions to all the titles in consideration for a station’s playlist.
While it’s tempting to believe that there might be merit in giant opt-in samples scraped from the station’s website, we know that larger isn’t inherently more accurate. If you wanted to conduct a study about the popularity of pro football, you would get a massive number of completed interviews by asking for viewers of an NFL game on TV to participate. Of course, that sample wouldn’t give you a true representation of popularity across the wider population.
Samples need to be passively collected, so that no unintended participants wander in to distort the numbers. Respondents need to be appropriately and thoroughly screened to make they match the criteria you’ve set up to make music decisions. And, in 2017, respondents need to be able to complete the interview on their own schedule in whatever setting suits them. The days of interrupting people by calling on the phone while they’re trying to eat dinner are gone. The days of begging people to come to an unfamiliar hotel meeting room in the evening to listen to 700 hooks are also over.
Increasingly, respondents like to complete research interviews on their smartphones. We’re seeing many who complete 600 or 700-title library tests on a smartphone. Regardless of device, we’re seeing that some respondents complete longer interviews in the evening, but weekend mornings are peak times when people take time to participate outside of the pressures of the work week. The important part from our perspective is getting honest opinions from the right respondents.
NuVoodoo has led the way in using properly-recruited online samples for media research. We’re working to find the next ways to make opinion-gathering more accurate and efficient, because some things never change.