“Less is More” may be a success – but some of the proof needs an objective view

From Radio Ink:

Clear Channel Says “Less is More” Is A Success Clear Channel Radio has announced broad early support for key elements of the company’s “Less is More” listenership and programming initiative. Clear Channel says two independent listenership studies confirm the value and effectiveness of fewer interruptions and shorter commercial breaks to listeners. The first, a national study commissioned by Clear Channel Radio from Burke Inc. found that creative, compelling commercials are effective at any length. Among the specific conclusions: — Over time, fewer commercials and more music are likely to improve listener loyalty. — A commercial’s effectiveness is not dependent on length. — Creative, well-executed, relevant spots generate strong recall. The second study, from Atlanta-based media and market intelligence company Navigauge, measures audience behavior during and around commercial breaks. The Navigauge study examined more than 46,000 stop-sets and more than 127,000 commercials over a three-month period. Among this study’s findings: — A first-position, 30-second spot retained more audience than a first-position, 60-second spot, no matter how many spots are in the break. — With shorter commercial breaks (i.e., those having four or fewer ads), roughly 80% of the qualified audience is still listening after the second commercial, and roughly 70% are still listening after the third spot.

My Comments:

First of all, I’m rooting for Clear Channel to succeed in this effort because bold moves deserve success so we in Radio are encouraged to make more of them.

Second, the Burke results sound right on to me and it’s about time someone investigated these questions. Of course, actually producing more effective spots is a lot tougher than simply abbreviating the spots which already exist.

Third, I still have mixed feelings about the Navigauge results. While I buy all of their points, I think these conclusions skirt other important points not made here. For example, the idea that more people are listening to more of the break is a finding that directly serves the interest of advertisers, of course. But these findings say nothing of the cumulative impact of more breaks on overall listening to the radio station in terms of cume or particularly TSL.

That is, just because more people are likely to listen deeper into a break doesn’t mean as many will listen as would have IF THERE HAD NEVER BEEN A BREAK IN THAT POSITION IN THE FIRST PLACE. The number listening through straight music is likely to be close to 100% – so ANY loss is greater than a presumably well-tested music mix would have delivered.

So that means the cumulative loss of listening from MORE breaks could EASILY damage a station’s listening levels more than the same loss from FEWER breaks – even with more listening erosion during a longer break.

In other words, don’t take these kinds of things at face value. They don’t tell the whole story.

The proof, of course, will be in the ratings.

And I have no doubt those will be closely watched.

Again, though, kudos to Clear Channel for doing the right thing.

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