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“Less is More” study Unspun

I find this study to be perplexing. I’m talking about the new Edison/Arbitron study reported here.

For example,

The study concludes that half of Americans say they never change radio stations when commercials come on while listening at home, whereas almost everybody says they change TV stations when TV spots come on. I’m perplexed because this conclusion is obvious. Radio at home is generally listened to passively while TV is generally watched actively. The more active the involvement the more annoying the spots. What about tune-out during a time when listeners are more active listeners, say, during morning drive? Who knows.

– The notion that folks don’t change their radio station during spots would suggest that our obsessive attention to the spot issue at the exclusion of all else is misplaced. Whether you believe the conclusion or not, I would certainly argue that our spot obsession is, indeed, misplaced.

– “Listeners prefer commercial arrangements that get them back to music faster.” This question will yield dramatically different results depending on how it was asked. The issue isn’t and never has been how many spots listeners prefer in a break. If I ask you how many spots you want in a break you’re going to tell me you want fewer. If I ask you how many breaks you want you’ll also say you want fewer. Because you want fewer spots PERIOD. But practically, we need to make trade-offs. And a question focused simply on how many spots-in-a-row does not ask for trade-offs. So once again, the answer is: There’s no answer. So let’s stop asking the dumb question.

– “Nearly one-quarter of all listeners and over one-third of persons age 12-24 are aware of stations with fewer commercial breaks and shorter commercial breaks.” This is painted as a postive, when you could just as easily say that “About two-thirds of 12-24’s and more than 75% of all listeners are not aware that stations are running fewer and shorter breaks. This suggests our presumed improvements are failing to communicate to our audience. Furthermore, adults are comprehending our message even worse than their children.” It’s all in the spin, folks.

And, as always, I’ll give you the straight scoop. Or at least a way to unspin the spin.

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