How To Grow Radio Ratings By Playing to Ratings Respondents

How To Grow Radio Ratings By Playing to Ratings Respondents

by Tracy Johnson

As long as the radio industry is going to allow the ratings services to hold us hostage to their insanely outdated methods of gathering ratings data, programmers should at least know how to play the game, and that means playing to ratings respondents.

Doesn’t it make sense to know as much about those consumers most likely to participate with Nielsen, Numeris or Rajar? These folks can be researched and tracked. And, as you probably suspect, they are not like the rest of the population that would never answer a researcher’s phone call, let alone carry a device to measure their listening.

What can you learn about them? Plenty. Here are 3 key findings that should impact how your station sounds tomorrow:

Playing to Ratings Respondents: Embrace your Fans

Ratings respondents are more likely to really love a station or personality.  This is logical, and factual. Those who care more are more apt to want their vote to count than those who don’t. This is a good thing for the radio industry.

Andrew Curran, CEO of DMR Interactive, demonstrates how major consumer brands are using all resources to identify how their brands are used and stresses the importance of fitting their product into customer lifestyles. He then turns the attention to your radio station:

…how many distinct listening occasions can you identify for heavy P1s who drive your ratings? Not just occasions to your station, but to the platform overall.

PPM panelists turn on a radio 31 times per week. Understanding where your station fits into the overall radio landscape can help you see things differently and generate consistent success.

Your challenge is to:

Get a larger share of those 31 tune-in occasions per week, and increase overall usage. Turn 31 tune-ins to 35 tune and attract most of the increase.

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When you understand the listener, especially those potential ratings types, you have the blueprint for directing content, promotion, positioning and messaging. This ultimately builds a close relationship with the listener.By understanding lifestyle, lifestage, values, entertainment preferences, what matters most to her now, how she uses music, and the benefits radio provides, you have the power of knowledge that can lead to persuasion.

 Identify Ratings Types

How is it possible to program by playing to ratings respondents, if we don’t know who they are??

Not complicated. They have certain qualities that make them unique. And you can prove it. Find ratings respondent types and track them separately. When you draft your questions, identify those most likely to be a ratings respondent by simply describing the process and then asking them if they would participate in a radio questionnaire. Chances are that those who say yes will also say yes to the ratings services.

Tracking their responses will help focus on exactly who to market to, in what tone, and with what media. When you know their tendencies, you’ll know how to reach them. Are they heave Facebook users? Do they watch more sitcoms or adventures shows? How much do they text? Are they on Twitter? Do they respond to email? Do they enter contests? How digitally friendly are they?

Use that information to design the right direct marketing and social media marketing to reach and connect with the right audience.

You can also gather this information with the proper approach through your existing database marketing strategies. Let me know if you’d like some help in this area.

Program To Them

One way to do this is by building a ratings-friendly content filter. According to Carolyn Gilbert of NuVooDoo, ratings respondents tend to have a “Middle-American-Mindset psychographic/personality”. She found:

(Ratings respondents are) naturally friendly, pleasant, cooperative, communitarian, family-oriented, tend to be more religious, neighborhood-oriented, believe in responsibility, democracy, honesty, and fair play.   “Squarer,” in both senses.  Less snobby.  More tied to tradition.  Less diverse.   Less flaky.   They’re not as likely to be highbrow.   More likely lifelong locals.  Less hip.   Less likely to embrace the new for its own sake.   Much less likely to reject the old for its own sake.   Less cynical.   And yes, they believe in the radio…  (They) want their voice heard, and acted.


Now think about how your station sounds. How your show sounds. If your station is playing The Ratings Game, doesn’t playing to ratings respondents make sense? Are you performing to the most likely ratings respondent? Doing so may not be the most fun, but it’s the most profitable.

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