Moneyball & Rolled Samples


Moneyball for Radio means using everything at your disposal to tilt the table in your favor in pursuit of that next tenth of a ratings point. And that includes being judicious with your research and marketing budgets – for 2024 you’ll need to maximize every dollar.

When talking to new research clients we regularly hear about their prior research vendor giving them “rolled” samples. Rolled is great for lots of things. Joints? Flautas. California roll. Lobster rolls are pretty great. A roll in the hay can be nice. For research programs involving current/recurrent music, “rolled” is not so great.

A “rolled” sample is one in which the latest sample – usually half the size of what a station would have preferred – is averaged with the previous sample. If a station gets new data every other week, the older half of the sample in the data a PD is reviewing is a month old. Such a scheme imagines that how people felt about songs a month ago is relevant when making decisions about airplay of current music today. With current music, airplay across multiple stations can result in burn scores spiking or passion dissipating. To make the right decisions, you need the freshest data available.

Researchers use “rolled” samples to reduce costs for themselves – to make it appear that they’re giving you the same number of respondents as they used to. They pay for the sample once – and in effect charge twice for the same person. They do this while telling clients they’re reducing costs for them. They’ll tell stations that the numbers are more stable because of the larger sample. They think they’re getting the same thing while actually getting half as much. Today, no station can afford to overpay for anything.

Imagine if the speedometer in your car showed a “rolling” interpretation of your velocity. The readout would certainly be more stable. But how would that work when entering a busy highway? Are you at the speed limit yet? At a traffic light you might think you’re stopped, but the speedometer still says 30 MPH.

You need the freshest information available. Program directors today work hard – they shouldn’t have to guess whether a song is a hit just because it was doing well weeks ago. We think using old data in “rolled” samples risks making bad decisions. How people feel about new songs is a moving target – they’re likely to feel differently today than they felt a month ago.

NuVoodoo believes data-driven decisions are better decisions. We believe that if more stations were making data-driven decisions, radio would be better and more listeners would be better served by radio. We work to find ways to deliver great research at realistic prices so that more stations can have access to data for their decisions. And we deliver full samples for the same price. Unique samples for each report. It’s only right.