This Research Study On Contests Should Scare You to Death

This Research Study On Contests Should Scare You to Death

by Tracy Johnson

Most radio stations conduct contests and promotions, especially during ratings periods. There’s a good reason for it, too. Ratings respondents are far more likely to participate than non-ratings respondents. But, as we’ve been warning you for years now, most stations are failing to maximize their contesting strategy. This study on contests should scare you to death.

Published by Carolyn Gilbert and her team at Nuvoodoo, there are several important take-aways that should get your immediate attention.


Study on Contests: Pick Up Prize or Send it Out?

In a world where I can order practically anything online and have it show up at my door in a day or two, why on earth do you think that listeners would be willing to drive across town to pick up a prize? They won’t. Check this out:



Only 1/3 of PPM respondents think it’s worthwhile to come to the radio station to get $100. This number is far lower for those who are not likely to end up in the ratings panel.

Takeaway:  If you can’t send prizes out (be sure to send with signature required to prove delivery), deliver them in person. This makes an even greater impact on listeners. But, we can’t afford it, you say? Then don’t do the promotion. Seriously.

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Listeners Don’t Believe You

Why do many contests seem ineffective? Listeners think your promotions are rigged. This has been going on for years, but now 50%…HALF… of ratings respondents are skeptical. They know you’re trying to get them to listen more and listen longer, but that isn’t really the problem. The issue comes when they don’t think the prizes are legitimate or that real people are winning.


Why, you probably wonder? There are several reasons:


Winners are rarely announced or celebrated. And even if you do announce the winner, they probably don’t actually hear it. This is particularly true if the promotion takes place through online registration.

Validating your promotions is a key to building trust and credibility. When that promotion ends, do you send an email to all entrants to let them know who won? For every giveaway? Completing the feedback loop is critical. It’s also an opportunity to promote the next chance to engage, and perhaps even gather more information via a post-promotion survey

Call-in to win contests really don’t work, and you should take them off your station immediately. However, most of you still do them and probably will continue.

If the campaign is call-in to win, do it right! Provide enough access so listeners can actually get through, then answer your phone! How many times do they have to hear a busy signal before they stop trying?

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Is it a surprise that they don’t believe the contests are legitimate? They’ve never gotten through, and don’t know anyone who’s won a prize. And, they never see or hear the prize being awarded. Their conclusion? It’s bogus. You’re bogus. That’s why this Epic promotion that was all about telling the story of a winner had such a dramatic impact on the market. It was believable, and demonstrated the payoff.


As Nuvoodoo concludes in their study on contests:

Consumers demand more transparency from all businesses in 2016. Radio stations need to give high touch, human-scaled service to keep their edge in the face of new media competition.

How are you making your promotion efforts more believable?

Access all of the Nuvoodoo information here.

Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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