Moneyball: Last-Minute Contest Guidelines

Pink piggy bank surrounded by falling flying American dollars cash money

If you’re considering a contest to impact the last month of the spring book, you’re likely working with a smaller budget than you may have in the past. To help get the biggest contest bang for the smallest outlay, we’re highlighting data on contesting from our last several NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects studies.

Interest in $500 contest prizes has been elevated since our study last summer with about two thirds of listeners saying a $500 prize could get them to play. A larger $1000 prize gets more listeners interested, but the smaller amount allows you to offer prizes more often.

We’re frequently asked about the best contest mechanisms and the data from our study in January 2023 below shows breakouts for the total sample, the sliver most likely to participate in the ratings (labeled “RPS Yes”), and those ratings likelies divvied up by music format preferences. Ratings likelies who listen most to a format like Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Variety Hits, and the like – formats that don’t play current music – are labeled “RPS Library” and are one of several formats with elevated interest in a “name game” type contest. Call-in-to-win contests have been declining in interest (meaning that fewer listeners are likely to participate in that type of game), but they do make getting winner audio easy.

In data captured in our July 2023 study, more listeners say they’d prefer to participate in a local station contest than a national contest, even if the prize is smaller in the local station contest. Of course, this assumes that stations running national contests are making it clear that’s what they’re doing. Listeners may hear the details during the announcements disclosing contest rules, but it’s hardly given heavy promotion – and they could be forgiven for not appreciating the details.

In fact, during that same study last summer, 52% of our respondents were not aware of these collectivized or group contests as shown in the chart below. The percentage of those unaware drops to 46% among the contest actives in that sample and 40% among those most likely to participate in the ratings. Among those who said they were aware of these group contests, however, most felt good about the practice (and only a sliver felt the practice is bad or unfair).

In past studies when we’ve asked follow-up questions, we learned that those who felt good about group contesting believed the prizes were bigger and/or they had more chances to win. If you’re running a local-only contest, you should be giving heavy promotion to that fact. You should showcase the voices of winners in promos talking about where they live and/or work. Don’t shy away from listeners with a distinctive local accent. These factors make your contest more relatable, more legitimate, and increase the perception that other listeners can win if they participate in the contest by listening more and/or more often – and that’s why you’re running the contest in the first place.

We’re showing off programming and marketing micro-tactics from NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 23 in a second season of Moneyball for Radio. You can find new videos every Thursday at We’re focusing on the radio version of “the butterfly effect,” the incremental things you can do that can add up to the additional tenth of a rating point that is the goal for stations in rated markets.