Friday, March 22, 2013

TSL Part 6 - The People Meter !!!

As our tale of the evolution and tactics programmers have used  to increase Time Spent Listening  rolls on we suddenly hit a very different reality - the People Meter.   As the top 50 markets moved from the diary method of gathering data to the new People Meter suddenly we began to see TSL take on a lot of new tactics and thinking.

PPM gathers listening data in the sample with no listener bias.   PPM's don't forget which stations they punch up on the commute or what they listened to all day at work.   It doesn't ignore dad listening to the hip-hop station after he picks up his son from practice - even though he has no idea who Drake is.

On the other side you also have lots of programmers still living in the non PPM world in the 180+ markets that still rely on the diary.

As we began to break out the minute by minute data and saw actual content in Media Monitors you could see a lot of different patterns developing.   What we saw overall was that TSL was way down from what we had in the diaries.  People listened to many more stations than they noted in the diary and punched around a lot more than we saw when they had to write it down.

Spot breaks suddenly began to look a lot more dangerous than they did in the diary world.  Longer jock breaks became a death zone in PPM as the audience tuned out sooner than we had thought.   Playlists also took a hit - suddenly taking any chances at all looked a lot more dangerous when you could lay the PPM graph right over time period you played that deep cut and see the impact.

Remember the first tactic we noted in our series here of building the clocks to avoid breaks on the top/bottom/15 and 45 times in the hour?   You can read about it below.   That tactic was one of the first ones that saw a tweak in the PPM world. Looking over the tune in and tune out patterns it became obvious that while the no breaks on the quarter hours clock set up that had become the 'law of the land' in diaryland it may not be ideal for the PPM world.

Actually the clock that has evolved is often called the Bow Tie clock as it pushes the spot breaks to the 15 and 45 spots in the hour.   The top and bottom are still left as music islands, but now the actual listening patterns showed advantages to breaking a lot closer to what was no man's land in the diary world.

We also saw a renewed interest in the longer music sweep.  Instead of trying for 'repetitive' style music sweeps with 10 in a row every hour the new tactic was more about 'commercial free hours' and 'commercial free days.'

Appointment listening still seemed like a meaningful tactic in PPM.  TSL does improve by making appointments and you can get some audience to come back if you work at making an appointment that is worth keeping.  The problem is that this tactic isn't as effective as now we see the reality of how much time the audience really spends with each button punch to a station.  It's no where near what we thought it was in the diary world.   The averages vary a lot by station but in the end the reality that when we see all their listening data (not just what they can remember and write down) the TSL is not nearly as long as it was in diaryland.  Of course the good news is that the audience listens a lot more stations than we saw in the diary.   Our reach and Cume numbers are way more than we saw in the diary.

Next week we will take a look at the newest tactic based on PPM where key hours and times are targeted to improve TSL.   Again thanks for spreading the word on this series.  As more and more entertainment and music listening options blossom in the digital world the need for TSL will be crucial for our brands.  We'll need new thinking, creativity and the guts to try new ideas to keep our media valuable in the future.

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