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Spot On, apply directly to the forehead

This just in…

Spots don’t hurt!

Yep, listeners generally don’t tune out for spots.

That’s what this new Arbitron study says (pdf download).

I know, I have trouble believing it, too. But check it out for yourself. It sure looks bullet-proof to me.


– The lowest rated minute during an average commercial break in morning-drive is 94 percent of the lead-in audience. The high level of audience retention in the morning-drive daypart suggests greater listener engagement in the morning and substantiates the value of morning-drive inventory.

– The audience for one-minute breaks is nearly the same as the lead-in audience (99.6 percent), and the lowest rated minute in two-minute breaks is 94.7 percent of the audience prior to the spot break. The lowest rated minute during three-, four-, five- and six-minute breaks ranges from 87.7 percent to 89.4 percent of the lead-in audience.

– Radio audience levels do not drop significantly during the third, fourth, fifth and sixth minutes of a commercial break. While audience levels are higher during the first and second minutes of the longer break, they “level off” between the third and sixth minutes of a commercial break, as many listeners return to stations toward the end of stop sets.

– Younger listeners are more likely to tune out of commercials than older listeners. Even among younger listeners, however, radio audience levels remain very high during commercial breaks.

So what are the implications?

That shorter, more frequent breaks are slightly better than longer, less-frequent ones.

And, more than that, broadcasters should stop obsessing over spot-break duration and placement and focus their attention on what listeners are listening through the spots for.

Because 99.6 percent of a small number is still small.

Finally, there’s an implication which is downright chilling – it isn’t in the summary report and nobody is talking about this anywhere:

If listeners generally don’t tune out for commercials, then what does that say about the songs, since any given song is designed to be significantly more attractive than the commercials which punctuate the song set?

Do you know what I mean? If listeners don’t mind spots then why should they mind mediocre songs? And what ARE they listening through the spots for?

Finally, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t turn off the station for spots, then how likely are you to buy a new radio, satellite or HD?

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