Monday, June 21, 2010

Means To An End?

I’m all for any advance that will improve ratings accuracy and preciseness – starting with sample/panel size – so I’m certainly not dismissing Arbitron’s announcement of its PPM 360 technology out of hand.

Instead, I’ll share this December post from former Arbitron Senior Vice President, Ratings Services, Jay Guyther and hope that this news – and more importantly and also announced today, the news that Arbitron has purchased IMMI’s cellular phone-based technology that captures consumer cross-platform media usage – is all a means to a good end: larger panels at lower cost.

As radio audiences continue to fragment, there will be an increased demand for larger sample sizes. In the U.S., Arbitron’s PPM panels are one-third the size of the previous quarterly diary sample…

"For continued success, development of new generations of meters must be continuous and come much faster. The costs, both the equipment costs and the system operating costs, must be greatly reduced so sample sizes can be substantially larger making electronic measurement more attractive and affordable to more markets.

“The ability to efficiently and inexpensively embed signal identification technology into a consumers existing personal electronic device, while maintaining the necessary research quality, is the only solution to building large cost-effective panels…

I’m hoping that today’s steps are two of many that will be quickly taken to that end.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Horn Of Plenty

I was brainstorming with a morning show this past Monday about the World Cup when the discussion turned to the fun potential of the vuvuzela as content.

We considered its radio applications…

…improving a song or two by adding a few, inappropriately placed vuvuzela riffs

…using it as a contest sounder, for a right answer or wrong answer, or when someone on the show agreed, disagreed or got tired of a team member’s content

…as an alternative for a song that has high burn; spending just a few seconds at the online, commercial-free radio station playing all vuvuzela all the time on line  might do a lot to lower “tired of” scores.

We considered its household potential…

…a very large drinking vessel (remember those ‘yard of beer’ glasses?), an alternative to a tripod, a waffle ball bat (with a large bat handle), as a golf club/polo club/javelin substitute 

We considered it as a device for public safety… a handy device to alert the bus driver that you want to get off at the next stop

…having a member of the show blow it at railroad crossings as an added alert to commuting motorists that a train was coming thinking that you might miss the flashing red light but not the vuvuzela

And we considered possible variations on its original purpose as a communication device…

…as a ringtone (at least 750,000 downloads have already happened)

…or for expressing your approval of a point made during next Sunday’s sermon

While search engine analytics suggest that the topic’s high point could have been reached yesterday, for a short while this was a talk about with good potential for fun (feel free to share anything you did).

Great shows are always finding content in the next talk-about – content they make uniquely their own with brilliant brainstorming.

Just ask if you need some brainstorming tips.

I’ll send them out as soon as the noise from the vuvuzelas dies down and I can concentrate a little better… ;->
photo credit: Flickr

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trash Talking

There are people who should ignore everything I say. For their own good, they shouldn’t even bother to strike up a conversation.

Like the restaurant I went to recently that wanted me to take a survey about my dining experience even though at best I won’t be anything more than a once a year customer. Why should they care what I think?

Similarly, a cruise line should stop trying to build a relationship with me. The idea of being trapped on a ship, taking days to get to where I could have flown to in hours, sounds tortuous to me. No offense to those of you who love this sort of vacation, it’s just not me – now or ever.

And just an hour ago a discount store wanted me to take a survey and in exchange would enter me to win a $5000 gift card. Why are you asking for my opinions? My wife is the one who shops here; I just stopped by to pick up a pair of socks. Even if I was tempted by the incentive and took the survey, how valuable (or misleading) would my answers be?

Hopefully the listeners you survey are the ones that matter, that will help you and your station achieve your goals. Hopefully because paying attention to spurious feedback, no matter how well intentioned, could be the ultimate trash talk.

With everything on our plates, it’s easy to let the chore of database maintenance wait until tomorrow. But garbage in/garbage out is a real problem.

Here are five things to do right now:
  • Make sure your sample matches your target. Study who’s responding to your questionnaires. Are they your target? Are you inviting feedback from people who can’t help you reach your goals? On one of our Albright & O’Malley Client Wide Conference Calls earlier this year, Presslaff Interactive Revenue’s Ruth Presslaff urged stations to regularly check their database metrics including demographics and their opt in/out rate.
  • Drill down to find listeners who have the deepest level of engagement with you and be sure you are including an appropriate number of them in your sample and reward them after the fact. Sharing some top-line results and recognizing those who regularly participate are two ways to keep hearing from those who are important to you. 
  • Because attrition make a panel less representative, continually look for ways to build the panel with targeted persons and eliminate factors which increase opt out or non-participation rates. Be creative. Distribute information about the panel in places where your most regular listeners are likely to visit – from websites to appearances.  
  • Limit the number of times you ask a panelist to take a survey. Over-sampling is one cause of panel erosion.

One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure – but not yours.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

"When You Come To A Fork In The Road...

…take it." 

It’s one of the great Yogi-isms of all times: When you have a decision to make, make it. 

Even if no one has ever made that particular decision before. Even if it goes against long-standing traditions. If it’s the right decision to make, make it.

Forks in the road come with three choices and three sets of consequences. Take the correct fork and your journey – real or metaphorical – likely moves on to its next fork with minimal or lesser consequences than if you made the wrong decision where you’ll likely suffer some consequences but, if you’re fortunate, have chance to retrace your steps and make a better choice.

Not taking a fork is the worst “decision” of all and carries the most severe consequences. Making no decision means you’ll have no chance to make the right choice - or to recover from a bad choice. The immobility of a non-decision makes you target practice for those who came to a fork and took one.

Brands (recently Tylenol, Toyota, BP, the federal government) are always coming to forks in the road. How a brand responds (or doesn’t) often has significant perceptual impact.

Today’s era of transparency includes owning up to and correcting an honest mistake; it's both expected and rewarded.

Umpire Jim Joyce chose such a fork last night by acknowledging he blew the call that cost Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. The consequences of the choice to admit this earned Joyce no small amount of respect from all sides.

"The guy had every bit of integrity. He faced the music. He stood there and took it…” Tiger’s manager Jim Leyland said of Joyce adding, “I'm taking about sincere. There was nothing phony about it. This guy was a mess. My heart goes out to him."

Armando Galarraga of course was at his own fork in the road. His choice was adopting a spirit of forgiveness which he publicly demonstrated by bringing the lineup card out to Joyce before today’s game. The consequences of that choice: applause from the fans (a nice choice of forks for them, too) and a tear from an emotional Joyce.

At 2:43 pm today, I was encouraged to learn that the brand called Major League Baseball which has come to a fork in the road because of all this, has promised to take one.

Personally I hope the fork that's ultimately taken (following an investigation – puh-leese make it quick) will be one that retroactively awards Armanda Galarraga a perfect game. Choosing this fork doesn’t mean I advocate instant more replay (I’m don’t) nor do I think that in the grand scheme of life this is a bellwether moment. It would however mean a lot to two people and (in my mind) a lot to the game and the MLB brand.

Still, choosing that fork will be a courageous, controversial, and one that goes against long-standing traditions.

But then that’s the nature of forks in the road – some are hard (especially it seems the ‘right’ fork). But business or baseball, when you come to a fork in the road, you have to take it.

Thanks, Yogi for the reminder.