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Cume Conversion

March 2, 2023

You may have read the recent “Tuesdays with Coleman” blog from Jay Nachlis. The topic was cume conversion – what percentage of your overall cume is P1 to your station? Frankly, this is not a metric that we have paid much attention to in the past.

Recently, this spawned a discussion with one of our clients which had me embarking on a mission. How are stations/formats performing at cume conversion?

Up front I want to state that this exercise was not a scientific project. I did a shallow dive on some top PPM markets. The demo was broad (A25-54) and I used a six-survey sample size.

From a macro view, it appears that the larger a station’s cume, the less likely it is to hit a 40% conversion rate. Not surprisingly, the more specialized the format, the higher the conversion rate. Here are a few more observations:

  • AC, CHR, and Classic Hits generally fell in the mid-20 to mid-30 percent range.
  • News/Talk was usually over 40%, often even higher.
  • Sports performed extremely well, especially in markets that are good sports towns. It was not unusual to see conversion rates above 70%. However, this might be skewed a bit; the data was from football season.
  • NPR was the clear winner in conversions. Their set point should be at 50% or higher.
  • Spanish and Urban depended on market conditions – specifically, how many stations are in the respective formats. In crowded markets they hovered in the 30s, but with less competition the rates went up.
  • Christian Contemporary audiences are very loyal but very small.
  • Rock was a mixed bag. Some Active Rock stations converted very well, but they tended to have huge morning shows. Classic Rock was meh. Alternative was a 20-30% format.

There are some very well-known stations you see at the top of leaderboards every survey that do not hit the 40% cume conversion benchmark. Perhaps we need to be a little more nuanced in determining the good/bad of this metric. For example, an AC station should likely focus on W25-54 or a CHR station on A18-49.

How do you track this metric? There are two ways.

  1. If you are a PD Advantage Web subscriber, run the Preference Level Trend report. This is available for both PPM and Diary markets.
  2. In Tapscan, look for the Loyalty report under the Research tab.

While I’m not sure the 40% conversion rate benchmark is a hard marker, I do see it as one of the many health metrics you should monitor for your stations.

If you would like any help with this, we stand ready to serve.

If you would like to read Jay’s article, you can find it here.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant