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When’s the Best Time for a Music Sweep?

February 24, 2022

One of the benefits of Nielsen’s PPM methodology is that it yields a tremendous amount of data. Savvy programmers harness this data to make better decisions and, often, solve problems.

As The Ratings Experts, we relish finding solutions for our client.

Two programming questions that frequently pop up are:

  • Where should I place my heavy spot loads?
  • Where should I place long commercial-free music sweeps?

The answer boils down to fishing where the fish are (or are not). Doing this effectively requires going from a macro to a micro look at each quarter hour. This is a time-consuming process. More on that in a bit.

The second factor is your competition. While there are 100 shares available every survey, and every station is competing for a slice of that pie, the reality is that you’re usually competing with just two to four other stations.

For example, a sports station is likely not sharing much audience with a mainstream AC, while a big news station is probably sharing significant audience with some of the bigger music stations. You need to find a group of stations that form your competition. This can be based on format or demo, or a combination of the two. The best way to determine this is by using the Duplication Grid report in TAPSCAN. Generally, any station that you share more than 25% of your audience with should be in your format group. In order to remove any wobbles, we also recommend doing this on a multi-book average.

Back to step one. How do you plot a quarter-hour-by-quarter-hour grid that features both the format group’s share and those of each member of that group? Oh, and trend this over multiple surveys.

Fortunately, we have an exclusive report that does just that. It’s called The Ratings Booster. It will allow you to pinpoint the quarter hours with the most and least listening to your format. It will show where you are winning – and losing – to the other stations in your pod.

This type of granular data allows you to pinpoint the hours for sweeps and the hours you have to heavy-up the spot load because of the sweeps.

This report is also helpful in spotlighting the strength – or weakness – of features and benchmarks, again for both your station and your competitors.

The Ratings Booster can also show you how high – or low – the tide is for your format. Real world example: We had a client station that was having a difficult time with Afternoon Drive. It was not as competitive as the other major dayparts. Using the Ratings Booster, we were able to determine that this was not a station problem but a market one. Listening levels for that format group went into a steady and rather abrupt decline after 5PM.

Big data is extremely powerful – if you know how to use it. That’s what we do. Click here to find out more about how Research Director, Inc. can help you grow your ratings.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant