Newest NuVoodoo Ratings Prospect Study

As noted last week, we’re just getting the results of our latest NuVoodoo Ratings Prospect Study out of the field and beginning the task of dissecting and compiling the results to inform our bleeding-edge digital marketing programs and share deeper insights with clients. Most importantly, these studies expand our understanding of radio’s most important listeners: PPM wearers and diarykeepers. The studies also allow us an opportunity to dig deeper into usage across new media platforms and Social Media, as well as sharpen our knowledge of how listeners use, perceive and relate to Broadcast Radio.

When we opened the doors at NuVoodoo at the start of 2011 we believed we’d be doing one of these national studies every year. But, with media behavior and perceptions changing so very quickly, we made the decision in 2014 to increase the frequency of the studies to twice a year. This latest study, our eighth, tips the scales at 3,506 interviews across all PPM markets among persons 14-54. The larger sample allows us to drill deeper into likely PPM and likely diary participants, to be able to dissect these most important listeners by gender, age, ethnicity and other characteristics.

With all the press about Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime and others adding human-curated playlists, we reflected back to the exploration we did in one of our earlier studies about how listeners believe radio selects its music – and how they’d like stations to pick their music. We found that beliefs of how stations choose their music varied widely, with many listeners guessing at the answers, since station music selection is generally an opaque process, rarely discussed or imaged on the air.

When asked how they think radio should pick its music, listeners fell into three broad groups: (1) those who wanted selections to be based on listener preference (requests, listener panels, etc.), (2) those who wanted the DJ’s to be in control and (3) those who felt station airplay should reflect the most popular songs as compiled in music business charts. Of course, all three have their roots in what stations have done over the years.

The push in digital music services to add human-curated playlists has its roots in number 2, DJ’s in control. It’s an appealing idea for consumers, that doesn’t work as well unless you’re really invested in the choices of the DJ or playlist curator. Nevertheless, it seems to resonate for listeners of pubcaster AAA, WXPN/Philadelphia, when the station says, “Curated. Not encoded.”

A client program director challenged our finding that many listeners felt they should be in charge of the playlist, saying it would take considerable effort to devise tactics to support such an image and significant promotional time to get the position known by listeners. He asked, “Do you really think people would listen more to a station that was known for having listeners involved in choosing the music?” So, we included the question in this latest study.

The overall numbers supporting the idea weren’t exciting. We found that the concept had little gravity among the large group who wouldn’t get involved in a PPM-type study, but that the idea has legs among the much smaller group who are susceptible to participating in PPM – those who would carry the meter if offered.

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When we dissect the PPM-susceptible sample by demo, we see that the younger the respondent, the larger the support for listener involvement in choosing the music. So, the idea has legs in theory. Would it work on the air? Only one way to find out.