What If You Had a Hammer and a Screwdriver?

Macro shot of screw on wooden background

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” Those are the words of psychologist Abraham Maslow (better remembered for his “hierarchy of needs”). In tighter-than-ever budget times we’re seeing more music tests going into the field with swollen sets of question groups. It makes sense: programmers are trying to use a music test to serve the function of a music test and a perceptual study.

This make-do mentality is laudable and can be the difference between keeping and losing a gig. Yet the samples and the mental modality of the studies aren’t completely interchangeable.

The sample for a music test is typically about one hundred respondents, carefully controlled for station preference (and sometimes additionally screened using music montages). This means we can’t investigate how well a station is converting cumers to core listening. Cume duplication percentages are distorted. The biased sample makes it impossible to get accurate answers to questions about station images or popularity of hosts (and inaccurate answers risk bad decisions). Moreover, the longer, more analytical questions asked in a perceptual can be fatiguing for a respondent who is also rating hundreds and hundreds of hooks.

When performing the primary task of rating hundreds of songs in a music test, we want respondents to simply react – no analysis, no deep thought – much as they would listening to the radio in the car (turning up the volume on a favorite song or changing the station on a disliked song). We offer question groups in music tests as a change of pace from the rhythm of rating songs. It’s best to keep respondents there giving quick answers about easy things in those question groups – artist names, music eras, what time they get up, etc.

The pair of study types that NuVoodoo has rolled out for 2021 offer a solution, however. OMT Lite runs a full-size music test sample and up to 400 hooks (albeit with no question groups). The ASAP Perceptual Study handles as many questions as you could wedge into a full-size music test, but runs a perceptual-study-worthy 300-person sample. Together, the two studies are competitive with the cost of a full-size music test, but gain the analytic capabilities and deep dives possible with a larger sample. An email to TellMeMore@NuVoodoo.com will get you details.

Here’s to the make-do mentality that gets the job done better … by using better tools.