Marketing in a metered radio world

Momentum is building in the advertising community for acceptance of metered audience measurement in radio. And as go the advertisers so will eventually go the broadcasters – kicking and screaming, if necessary.

I’m a fan of the meters and look forward to the day that they’re in place (I know, they’re not perfect, but “perfect” and “audience measurement” do not belong in the same sentence).

But something nags at me.

It has become common to talk about how, in marketing, “everything will change” after meters replace diaries. “Because our marketing now is designed to manipulate unaided awareness – all that matters in the diary world – while the meters will require manipulating actual listening.”

I’ve heard this so many times I can’t even count them. And I disagree with it more vehemently than I can say.

I don’t know about you, but my mission during the course of my radio career has never been to manipulate listeners into recording stuff that’s never happened. Nor has it been devoted to reminding folks of what they listen to because, presumably, they’re too stupid to remember it on their own.

As the meter results clearly show, the increase in cume listening as a result of PPM measurement is a result of more LIGHT listening – not the kind that swings share numbers. Under what scenario does it make sense to remind LIGHT listeners of their listening when you should and could instead emphasize converting LIGHT listeners to heavy ones? Heavy listeners, I can tell you, don’t forget. That’s the true agenda for any reasonable marketing expenditure, past, present, or future.

I think it’s offensive and contemptuous of your audience to argue that the whole point in marketing has been to remind them of their behavior. If so, you’ve been wasting a lot of money.

Every TV spot, every direct mail effort, every promotion, every email, every on-air promo, and every phone call should now – and should have always – had as its intention the goal of adding listeners and adding listening.

Period.

Whether we’re dealing with diaries or meters. The measure of good marketing is in how much actual listening a station attracts.

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