Do Listeners Still Think Radio Contests Are Rigged?

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Yes. In fact, at stunningly similar levels since we started tracking this perception in our twice-annual studies of 14-54’s across all PPM markets. Last month we fielded NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study X, our tenth study looking at the differences in perceptions of those special groups who’d likely accept meters or diaries for their households if offered.

The numbers comparing last August to this August are flat. The numbers were a few points higher this past winter and we’re eager to see if that increase is seasonal. But, the bottom line remains the same: about half of these oh-so-important consumers think most radio contests are rigged. Keep in mind, these are the very same groups who show increased interest in contesting, more readily agree that contests add to their enjoyment and spend more time listening.

In the past, we’d explored why listeners felt the contests were rigged. The most frequent complaints: that stations never air the prize drawings and that they don’t answer their phones or reply to email. We followed up on the latter issue a while back and tried to get in touch with stations via phone and email in a major market. We found one owner where the listener phone lines were answered (by the same person) for all of their stations and another owner where PD’s at two of the stations DID reply. Outside of those two owners, we were met with busy signals, endless ringing and unreturned emails.

We’re making appointments now with NuVoodoo clients to show them through these latest data. This time around we’ve got:

  • Fresh numbers on Social Media engagement;
  • Smart Speaker placement and usage (which rooms they live and what people are listening to on them);
  • Tactics to increase TSL (beyond music quantity) and more.

We also probed seven specific tactics stations could employ to push back on the pernicious perception that station contests are rigged. We’ll share results from two of the lower-ranked tactics here (and save others for client presentations). There are more potent tactics, but these are great starting points worth considering. If you’re already doing these things, it’s worth asking yourself if you’re doing them well enough and often enough.

It’s hard to get budget approval for contesting at all today. Radio can’t to afford have listeners ignore the enticement, borne out of thinking the contests aren’t legitimate.