Moneyball: How Much Contest Cash Do You NEED?

Nielsen Ned

The news that America’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, did not see his shadow arrived as this is being written – predicting an early spring. At the same time, America’s 146th most famous groundhog, Nielsen Ned, also failed to see his shadow, predicting that the spring ratings would start on March 28 – about seven weeks from now.

And with the predicted arrival of the spring book, many stations are making plans for marketing and promotions. Last year our NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study showed a resurgence of interest in $500 prizes. Our latest data gathered month indicates continued high interest levels in $500 prizes, off only one point from last summer’s study, from 68% of regular radio listeners down to 67%.

Another $500 in prize money, pushing the purse up to $1000, grabs the interest of another 14% of regular radio listeners – pushing total interest up to 81%. Among those most likely to participate in a ratings-type study (“RPS Yes”), contest prize interest moves up to 69% for the $500 prize and another 16% for the $1000 prize – for a total of 85%. The devil’s always in the details, so we’re showing the results broken out by ratings-likely format constituents in the chart below.

Alternative format P1s (“Alt P1”) are tough to capture for $500, but 86% will get excited about $1000. Ratings-likely core listeners for Classic Hits and Adult Hits are combined here (RPS: Cl + Ad Hits P1”) and are very interested in contest cash. Ratings-likely core listeners for Country are a surprise here, with 63% interested in a $500 prize, but only a few more lured in with the larger cash amount. Nevertheless, two-thirds of Ratings-likely core listeners for Country say they’ve participated in a radio station contest in the past year.

Perhaps the disparity between contest playing and cash prize interest is the tremendous range of prizes Country can bring to bear with concert tickets and artist experiences.

The biggest disparity between interest in cash prizes and past-year contest play, however, is among ratings-likely Hot AC P1s. Just 30% of that group say they’ve participated in a radio station contest in the past year, while fully 80% are interested in a $500 prize. Some will take that as a sign that Hot AC constituents aren’t likely to play contests, while we’re more likely to call it as a need to wrap contesting in engaging/interesting packaging, while making the underlying game ultra-easy to play. If you’d imagine promo copy that starts with, “all you have to do to win is,” … you need to make the contest even simpler to play and win. Lots of young parents (and moms) among the Hot AC constituency; they would like to win the contest cash, but they have no time for anything.

Of course, the NuVoodoo marketing team has all the details and deep experience optimizing contest mechanisms and promotional tools. Email them at

NuVoodoo believes data-based decisions are better decisions, so we regularly share key findings with all broadcasters, and not simply those who choose to do business with us. Meanwhile, we’re counting down the research mistakes we see being made too often in a webinar series available at