Moneyball: Options for Decision-Making

Magic 8

The spring ratings period starts in about 10 weeks. As we noted last week, we’re still at the point where we feel we have plenty of time to make programming tweaks, get promotional plans made, and marketing plans set. Sometimes, however, changes in the ratings become wrinkles in those plans. Is that decline in a particular demo and/or daypart a wobble borne upon a too-thin sample … or is it a legitimate downturn? In the latter case, was it a one-time event or is the station bleeding listeners or time spent with the station?

You could trust your gut and make a decision about what to do, but you know that data-driven decisions are usually better decisions. Certainly, a fresh perceptual study would help get to the bottom of those issues, but it’s Q1 and budgets are tight. At NuVoodoo we wanted to come up with a perceptual study that works for today’s environment, so we focused on minimizing turnaround time while keeping costs under control. Our acronym wonks came up with the ASAP Study:

Actionable: A 10-minute interview – half the length of the interview in one of our full-sized strategic questionnaires – means we have to focus on actionable inquiries. What are the actions you’re prepared to take based on the output of the study? Things that would be “nice to know” come up all the time when designing studies, but with the ASAP Study, the focus is on what’s actionable.

Speedy: The 10-minute interview means the study will get into the field faster and a 300-person sample means that it will get out of the field faster. We’ll get from approved questionnaire to presentation in four weeks or less in the 40 largest markets (fielding takes slightly longer as market population decreases).

Affordable: An all-in cost of $9500 makes it easier to find the budget and increases the likely return on the investment.

Perceptual: This is quantitative research with scalable results from a well-designed, carefully screened sample to get the answers you need to move ahead with confidence. We think that’s better than using a focus group or two (which is a qualitative technique) and wondering if a lot of people feel like the guy in the plaid shirt does or if he’s just weird.

Starting points for an ASAP Study usually fall into one of three areas:

  • A checkup on station health: Is the station optimally aligned among your competitors? What images are strongest? Which images are most important? Is your music dialed-in – or is it perceived too old/new/hard/soft/etc.? Who are you biggest competitive threats? Where can you mine for additional P1s?
  • A drilldown on mornings: What kind of show is in demand? Are there image leaders for that type of show? What are the key audience benefits to develop? Which images are contestable? Which features have the strongest gravity? Who are the hot personalities?
  • A roadmap for music: The tightened interview allows testing of appeal for up to ten music styles, along with image questions.

Need something beyond those? Talk to us. In every event, the exact questions are whatever is needed to get actionable answers for the station. Limited questionnaire length means only the most important questions get asked. Of course, NuVoodoo offers full-size strategic perceptual studies and format searches, but when time really matters, we can get answers ASAP. An email to or gets you deeper details.

Meanwhile, we’re counting down the research mistakes we see being made too often in a webinar series available at