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Mind Your PUMMs

September 28, 2022

It is a fact of ratings science that there are 100 shares available in every market. However, not all shares are created equal. Your station’s AQH share is a reflection of how many people are actually listening to radio. The term, for PPM markets, is PUMM (Persons Using Measured Media). In diary markets, it’s PUR (Persons Using Radio).

In a PPM world, there is no denying the fact that PUMMs remain below pre-pandemic levels. You can check this rather easily in Tapscan:

  • Open Tapscan, click the “Research” tab, then the Trender box. Select your market and click “Generate Report.”
  • Once there, you can choose the surveys, demos, dayparts, and stations you wish to look at.
  • In the Estimates section, choose “Average Persons.” Make sure you click on the “Market Total” box.
  • Finally, click on “Apply Changes.”

Once you have generated the report, scroll to the very bottom to find the market total for Average Persons. This is the available audience every radio station is vying for every month.

I should warn you – comparing August 2019 to August 2022 will not paint a pretty picture. You will see a significant drop in PUMMs over time and, likely, a smaller drop in cume.

However, you should check your market levels month-to-month over the last 14 surveys. This will provide insight into the level of radio listening that is available to you.

Why is this important? It can show you how the market is trending. This report can also show seasonal trends. For example, PUMMs are often lower during summer months as people take vacations. Surprisingly, we often see PUMM levels fall during the Holiday book, possibly for the same reason. Major weather events or the return of football (both college and pro) can lead to an increase in PUMM levels as people seek information and entertainment.

There are a lot of components to your station’s ratings. Tracking how your market is performing can put your wins (or losses) in perspective. For example, you could see your AQH Persons rise during a survey, but your AQH share go down. This is probably not due to anything you have done with your station. Rather, it means your increase did not match the increase in market PUMM, so your share fell. The reverse can be true as well, when your AQH persons is not down as much as market PUMM.

For the programming world, fortunes rise and fall based on the monthly AQH share. There are many factors that affect this and market PUMM is one of them. The more you know your market, the better prepared you will be to interpret your data.

One final note – this exercise is also helpful for AWTE (Average Weekly Time Exposed), or TSL to us old-schoolers.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant