This New Data From YouTube Will Help Your Radio Station

This New Data From YouTube Will Help Your Radio Station

by Tracy Johnson

Radio programmers face a major challenge. Listening habits have been disrupted and have yet to return to levels that will sustain ratings and regain lost revenue. Decisions made right now are critical. The audience has shifted yet again. But you’re not alone. Programmers at YouTube face barriers growth in the face of new streaming competition, too. And the data that informs YouTube will be very familiar for broadcasters.

Andrew Curran of DMR/Interactive has this warning for radio stations:

For the first time in the modern era, radio has to re-introduce itself to former listeners, particularly those female loyalists who have been sidelined since last March.
In order for listening to truly recover, market leading stations must rebuild listening habits that will sustain ratings and revenue growth. It starts with a culture that puts the listener at the center of every decision.
In other words, your radio station is no longer at risk for losing attention to other media. That attention has been lost. Average Quarter Hour ratings in most markets remain 35-60% below pre-pandemic levels. We can no longer assume listening will return to normal. We must compete aggressively to win listeners back.

This YouTube Data Will Help

Results from a new study at YouTube show the streaming service faces some surprisingly similar obstacles. Normally we think of YouTube as one of radio’s competitor for attention. And it’s true. They have more than 2 billion active users, or nearly 1/3 of the global internet audience. But they face fierce challenges from new streaming providers luring viewers by churning out an unprecedented amount of content. ‘

So YouTube researched their audience. The online marketing provider Hootsuite shared the data here. And there’s a lot of information to apply to your station.

But the most compelling data is three key takeaways that probably apply to your radio station.

Too Many Ads

The #1 problem for YouTube is advertising. Viewers complain they play too many ads.

Photo Credit: Hootsuite

Sound familiar? But here’s the thing: To watch video they’ve chosen as interesting or useful to them, users say the 15 seconds of ads (that they can skip after a few seconds) is too much of a penalty. They click out.

Hootsuite points out that a major part of the problem is ads inserted in the middle of a video, which is an option for videos longer than 8 minutes.

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Maybe it’s time for broadcasters to finally consider truly reducing the #1 complaint of radio listeners: too many commercials. But in this critically important period for winning listeners back, many managers are increasing commercial inventory to make up for lost ground. Advertisers are slowly start to return, but it’s hard to justify higher rates because AQH is lower.

Resist the temptation to add commercials. In the face of increased demand, higher rates may come from a limited supply. And that could result in improved AQH.

It’s Not Entertaining

YouTube’s study shows that most of their viewers choose a video to relax or escape their daily lives. Does that sound familiar? It’s the same reason they tune to radio stations and shows.

That’s why personalities that make me laugh is the #1 trait for radio shows.

But the bar is higher than ever. Consumers have choices and they will use them. 17% of viewers punish videos by clicking out if they fail to instantly get and then keep their attention.

It’s Too Long

What’s the first thing you do when a friend recommends a video? You check the length to decide if it’s worth your time to even start it.

10% of YouTube viewers say they tune out a video because it’s too long. Research shows that each new generation has a shorter and shorter attention span for online and on-air content.

Streaming services can track the exact moment viewers tune out. But radio can gather tons of information as well:

  •  Ratings services provide tune in and tune out information on individual meter carriers in PPM markets.
  • Analyze streaming statistics to track user behavior, including times they turn the volume up and down. Note: In the coming days, I’ll be sharing information on how to do track this in a new app.
  • Conduct a research study of spoken-word content using dial testing to reveal what causes listeners to tune in and tune out. This is the basis of our Content Superhero study.

Broadcasters debate the appropriate length for talk content. There is no specific answer, but I offer suggestions here. The key:

Every segment should be as long as they need to be and no longer. And as short as they can be, but no shorter.

Your Next Steps

Consider drastic changes to win back lost quarter-hours, including these three steps:

  • Reduce the commercial load. And in the process, raise standards for acceptable commercial production. Some of the spots sound like 2005.
  • Hook listeners quickly. Start with compelling, attention-getting content that inspires curiosity and expectation. Get details on how to create interesting hooks here.
  • Don’t draw it out. Get your point across and entertain the audience with an interesting story in the most efficient amount of time possible. Don’t trim content so much it’s no longer entertaining, but be careful to avoid wasting time.
You might also like:  The 3 Ways To Increase Radio Ratings

And there’s one more. Advertise.

Winning back lost listeners that have formed new media habits won’t magically happen. Now is the time to be aggressive. The last year has been painful for the bottom line, but unless we regain lost ground (and then grow) the next year could be just as painful.


YouTube has never been more popular.

But they’re obsessing over audience engagement and considering ways to adjust the user experience to fuel growth in their most competitive time in history.

Read that last paragraph again, changing your focus from YouTube to your call letters.

We’re standing by to help. Contact us to get started.


The Ratings Game eBook

Ratings Terms Every Programmer Should Know

The #1 Trait For Radio Shows: Make Me Laugh

Content Superhero: What Causes Tune In Seminar on Demand

The 6 Biggest Causes of Listener Tune Out

How Long Talk Breaks Should Be

Hook Listeners Quickly – Resources

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