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A Rating Point Has Never Bought a Single Thing

April 4, 2013

We in the radio industry sell rating points.
Buyers and advertisers buy rating points.

While this is the currency of our industry, it’s just a construct. An advertiser’s goal when spending money on radio is to increase sales. They are not buying rating points; they are buying living, breathing consumers.

This concept is paramount in a PPM world, where many markets are witnessing unprecedented rating compression. When five stations all have a 0.5 rating, many think the only way to differentiate your station from the competition is to reduce price. This negative auction has had a detrimental impact on our business and your station. Nothing illustrates this better than one of my favorite scenes from “I Love Lucy.”

Dropping rate to get on the buy will not result in a healthy industry. We need to go back to selling the value of our listeners as consumers. When everyone has a 0.5, we need to make sure an advertiser understands why our 0.5 is more valuable (not cheaper) then the competition’s 0.5.

So how do we do it?

Sell the Value of Your Listeners
Not all people have the same spending power, or buy the same products and services. We need to get back to focusing on who the advertiser needs to reach and why your station is the right choice. Every good station understands the value of qualitative research. Whether it is Scarborough, The Media Audit, Retail Direct, or the Qualitative Diary, radio station sales people need to differentiate their listeners from the competition.

Qualitative tools bring to light that radio buys don’t deliver rating points, but deliver human beings who have a high propensity to buy the advertiser’s product or service.

When it comes to qualitative research, many radio station sales people focus on the standard socioeconomic categories. I encourage you to dig deeper than that, and find the product usage categories that your listeners have a high likelihood to buy. Here is where your listeners’ value really comes to life.

Sell the Relationship That These Listeners Have with Your Station
Average quarter hour is just one element of your station’s estimates as reported by Arbitron. Do your listeners have an emotional relationship with your station? Are your station’s listeners more passionate about your station than the stations tied with you on the ranker? Do you have higher time spent listening or higher first preference estimates than those around you? If so, document it – and not just with numbers, but also with the inference that your listeners love your station. This fact means that, by advertising on your station, an advertiser can buy goodwill that they might not get from buying another station.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner