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Arbitron’s Search for “Affinity”


That's fancy talk for a number which indicates whether or not anybody cares about your radio brand.

Why do we need this?

Because Arbitron's metrics to date have, with the help of blossoming Cumes under PPM and shrinking AQH ratings, pushed radio station ratings toward so many ties that rankers have become almost meaningless.  "Give us a tie-breaker," they say.  And, to be honest, any tie-breaker that isn't related to price is a welcome one.

But it's about more than "too many ties."

As advertisers come to terms with exploding Cumes full of plenty of dispassionate, barely-there listeners and compare these to the much smaller but much more passionate audiences available to them from digital sources, the question naturally arises:  Do listeners care about your brand?  Because we want our products or services to be positioned in the presence of a brand people care about, not one that is simply "high-rated."

On its face this question is so disruptive to the way we interpret and program for ratings that it's hard to imagine we'll ever arrive at a solution which gives the advertiser what it wants without confounding our programming and sales strategies.  For example, do you program for cume – or for affinity?  When you can't have both fans and ratings, which should you aim for?

Would we have a new CHR station in New York and LA if "affinity" were the goal?  Or if "Cume" were the goal?

Can stations be both popular and loved?  Sure.  But you can also have popular stations that are background utilities and niche stations with cult followings.  

So what will your goal be?

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