We Were Flattered

At NuVoodoo we’re sometimes asked whether we’re a research company that does marketing or a marketing company that does research.  The answer to the question is, “Yes.”

We’re a company that provides services to help broadcasters win.

So, we were flattered when someone posted a comment on a Facebook ad for our Which Hunt marketing program comparing it to Moneyball and the Obama campaign.  We remained flattered even after we realized that the person posting didn’t intend it as a compliment.  The person who wrote the post maintains that the right idea is to come up with programming that blows people away.  Great programming is always the best answer, of course.  Great marketing for a station with bad programming never works.

We were flattered because the ideas in Sabermetrics underlying the Moneyball book and movie are widely used in baseball today.  The Obama campaign won the White House – twice.  It was deep data that helped the coaches in Moneyball make better decisions – even though many of the coaches initially fought the concept because it felt counter-intuitive.  Those of us involved with the initial stations using music research recall how upsetting it was to see data showing a song that programmers thought was a power was in fact a stiff according to listeners.  We were less upset when our ratings results told us that they were right!

As a measured medium, radio programming is inextricably tied to research.  We never really know how many people consume our over-the-air product.  We rely on Nielsen research – um, opinions – to give us tools to prove our reach and influence to potential advertising clients.

Those first stations using market research to guide their programming and music choices back in the late 70’s and early 80’s were often big winners in their markets.  It wasn’t a matter of not doing great radio; it was leveraging a new competitive advantage.  Using these types of research became common in subsequent years and research dropped from secret weapon to the ante necessary to stay in the game.

Stations have been employing tactics to better target their marketing efforts for decades.  Stations bought TV spots during shows whose viewers might be more inclined to like the station.  Eventually, buying targeted TV for radio stations became a profitable business, optimizing delivery of the targeted viewers at the lowest-possible rates.  Parallel regimens have been applied to just about every channel used to market radio stations.

Broadcasters would be fools not to use every tool available to them.  NASCAR teams pay top dollar for the best driver AND work to build the best car.  They use deep data to learn everything they can about performance – and they push at interpretations of the rules and regulations to shift the odds in their favor.

When there are gaps in our understanding of what consumers want or how they perceive our programming, research is a great tool.  Many music stations use some type of on-going music research to keep themselves in tune with audience tastes.

When we want to give consumers new information about a station’s offerings or reach out to consumers who aren’t yet engaged with a station, marketing can help a station achieve its goals more quickly.  In a highly-competitive market environment, savvy marketing can be the edge that pushes a station past its competition.

We at NuVoodoo are fervent advocates for great programming.  All of us got into the radio business years ago because we loved what great radio can do for listeners.  And, because radio programming is tied to research, we use our research to inform and enhance our marketing programs and use the results of our marketing programs to inform our research.  We conduct national studies every year looking for new ways to engage potential listeners, to increase our understanding of what differentiates ratings participants from the rest of us and to better understand what and how listeners think of radio stations in the changing media landscape.

The products in our research suite help programmers and managers make better decisions by connecting them to the perceptions and preferences of listeners – even when many listeners have limitless options for wireless audio entertainment.  Our marketing programs help great stations achieve greater results by enhancing their odds of influencing those who control their fates: PPM wearers and Diarykeepers.

We advise all broadcasters to use every useful tool available.  We’d love it if you use ours, but in an increasingly competitive marketplace with new distractions for consumers’ attention popping up every day, radio is in no position to program or promote or market like it’s 1984.

The old idiom is “The devil is in the details;” at NuVoodoo, we think the devil is in the data.