Monday, November 26, 2007

Cyber Monday and Public Radio

Today is Cyber Monday, a now official on-line shopping event. Google News has links to hundreds of articles on it. NPR reported on it today during Morning Edition.

Cyber Monday follows its brick and mortar predecessor, Black Friday. Despite all of the publicity, as an ABC News article points out, neither of these days is the biggest shopping day of the year. That's always the Saturday before Christmas. It turns out that no matter how hard retailers try to get people to buy early, most shoppers procrastinate.

Those of us in public radio recognize this pattern. It's how listeners behave during pledge drives.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Resetting Reality

We’re getting a sense of how audience measurement is changing with Arbitron’s PPM (Portable People Meter) system.

If there is one lesson from the early results it is this – PPM is a new reality. Everyone who sees a PPM number immediately compares that number to its diary equivalent. That exercise is interesting for about five minutes and then it hits you that the diaries are ancient history.

The Cumes are the new Cumes. People are using more stations than shown in the diaries. Time Spent Listening per station is down. In some cases, way down. Daily listening patterns are different.

Public radio stations will not be immune to these differences in PPM and diary measurement. Some differences will be good. Others are going to sting at first.

Reality is being reset by PPM. Moreover, it is being adjusted daily. Arbitron is still working out a lot of details in the PPM system. Overall sample targets are being hit but several demographic groups are under represented. Arbitron is working to fix that. We may or may not see changes in PPM results based on those fixes.

The early reports on public radio from the PPM markets will not be the final word on what PPM is telling us about public radio. In some ways, we’re going back to the early-1980s when public radio was really just learning how to interpret audience data. The steepness of our learning curve with PPM will be largely affected by our ability to untether ourselves from the diaries.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Radio Rocks... and Swings... and Twangs

An observation about last night's Country Music Association awards from public radio consultant and colleague Jay Clayton:

"Nearly all the winners thanked country radio, not the country Internet."

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