Impediments to Effective Contests: Part One

For several years, NuVoodoo has been shouting that too many listeners believe radio station contests are rigged. The numbers beneath that opinion have been as high as nearly half the ratings-likelies in our Ratings Prospects Studies. We believe that some of this skepticism is borne from stations running group contests, where there are lots of promos about opportunities to win – but comparatively few promos about listeners winning the contests.

The numbers are tamed somewhat in NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 13, but still represent a quarter of our sample of 3,084 respondents, ages 15-54, across all PPM markets – and at least 37% among likely PPM and Diary respondents.

That’s a stiff headwind for radio contests. If even 25% of could-be participants are taking a pass because of doubt about the legitimacy of a contest, that’s commensurately fewer opportunities to sway listening behavior. And it comes at a time when Nielsen is layering in additional contest elements to keep meter wearers active and in their panel – meaning panelists are increasingly contest-receptive individuals.

Tangentially related is the increasing concern we have as consumers about businesses being willing and able to keep safe the personal information we share with them. Spurred by verbatim comments picked up in client studies, we wanted to put quantitative scale to concerns listeners expressed about giving up personal information to radio stations.

Think of it as an additional headwind for your contest efforts. And it’s one we believe you should deal with in your messaging. A reasonable level of exposure needs to be given to the idea that your station isn’t going to give listeners’ personal information to people who want to sell stuff to them. Of course that assurance should go in your official contest rules announcements. We think it’s worth including that idea in some of your contest promos.

It’s also worth reviewing with your station’s legal team whether you can include your compliance with CAN-SPAM and COPPA laws in your rules and promos. While it may be a bit of “security theater” (like that practiced at the airport by the TSA), that advertised compliance might help assuage the fears of some listeners about giving you their personal information.

And, listeners are also concerned that stations ask for too much personal information to enter contests. NuVoodoo’s marketing wing has firsthand experience with this issue. They know that asking for too much information from first-time registrants with the station causes contest entry numbers to plummet. The best practice is keep the information you require at a minimum: name, email address and a check box to confirm they’re of age for your contest is probably enough.

NuVoodoo EVP/Marketing Mike O’Connor adds, “We pound the table about the amount of data we’re collecting when we manage name-game campaigns for clients. Do we really need a snail-mail address in 2019? With digital retargeting, social media custom audiences and bounce-back email all available to marketers, why would stations want to kill their response rate and dramatically lift the cost of listener data acquisition asking for information they’ll never use and listeners are uncomfortable about sharing in the first place?”

Next week: the information listeners are least uncomfortable sharing with you and the best ways to capture that information.