$1000 Is the New $500: Contest Inflation

Young woman in casual sweater

Nielsen’s plan is to replace up to 75% of the PPM panel with the new wearable meters by the end of 2022, with the rest changing in 2023. The new meters use a companion smartphone app to retrieve listening data from the wearable meter and transmit it to the mothership (though an in-home device serves as a backup). And that new smartphone app also allows Nielsen to communicate with panelists about incentives.

Contests run on Nielsen’s proprietary panelist website have been around for some time, but the app will serve to make those contests much more foreground for respondents. It seems likely that respondents will become even more focused on rewards and contests as the panel shifts to wearables. And so, we need to sharpen our focus on optimizing contests.

We learned in last summer’s NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 18 that around 7 in 10 of those likely to show up in Nielsen samples (labeled “RPS Yes” in the chart below) shop around for the most generous contest – even more among the heavy-listening subset of those ratings likelies (labeled “RPS 60” below, referring to radio listening of at least 60 minutes per day).

So, how much do you have to say you’re giving away? For starters it needs to be competitive among stations with whom you share audience. I can recall just a few years ago talking through data we’d gathered and seeing a relatively small delta between interest in $500 and $1000 prizes. Back then our marketing team often recommended $500 prizes because of the upside of being able to double the number of occasions a station could offer prizes.

However, the delta between interest in $500 prizes and $1000 prizes is now about 20 points in the chart below from our first Ratings Prospects Study earlier this year. As NuVoodoo marketing guru PJ Kling notes, “We simply can’t in good conscience recommend $500 prizes – especially in competitive markets where many stations will be running contests with cash prizes.”

How you package your precious contest cash can make a difference in the appeal of your game. Among the ratings likelies in our January study, $1000 in free gas was just behind $1000 packaged as help with bills or cash tied to commercial-free music segments. Given the combination of inflation and high gas prices this year, we’re expecting to see even stronger interest in cash for bill payments and gasoline when we field Ratings Prospects Study 20 next month.

PJ and NuVoodoo president Carolyn Gilbert share additional insights and even more breakouts in in a video about contest prizes – as well as recommendations about how get the biggest bang with your contesting budget. As I noted, we’re prepping now to field Ratings Prospects Study 20 next month. If you have questions we should include or areas we should explore, please drop me a line at leigh@nuvoodoo.com. Thanks!