Monday, July 29, 2013

Feast On Our Cume

For the most part when buyers look at radio they lean on the average persons and rating point numbers.  The main currency revolves around 'how many people will hear the commercial.' But, no one goes into a marketing program on radio buying just one commercial.  You wouldn't walk into a casino and take the $2,000 dollars you were going to spend and put it all on one number.

Radio has sold itself in the advertising world by often leaving our best player on the bench for the whole game.  That player is our CUME.  The total sum of the audience that listens to the station sometime over the rating period.   Back in the diary days we'd see a Cume number that was made up of an average of the audience we collected over an average week during the survey period.   Usually it was a pretty big number showing a couple of stations maybe reaching 25% of their total market population.

Of course that number came from people remembering to write down the stations they listened to and how long they listened.  Now that we have the people meter in the field we can see how wrong the 'recalled numbers' from the audience are compared to their real behavior.   It the world of Cume it looks like the diary method caught around 55-65% of the actual Cume numbers for most stations.  If you look at a market leading station like WDVE in Pittsburgh in the Diary days it was usually around 450,000 for the cume - reaching a little under 25% of the market which is just over 2 million.  In a PPM world WDVE is often 200,000 higher in the Cume numbers with over 600,000 listeners.   In fact we usually see 3-4 stations that are above 600,000 in cume in this market each of them reaching around 30-33% of the market.  If you segment the market to Women or Men or Younger and Older you can easily reach 50-60% of the market for that demo just by picking the leading station.  

When you look at all the marketing options for a product today there are really very few options where you can really 'reach the market' with a vehicle.  Yes you have TV as a big reach contender but when you have only 4-6 local channels and they compete on the same cable box with 400 other channels and a DVR the reach of the media falls back.  Radio's reach is also very consistent with over 90% of the market using the media every week for decades upon decades of data.

For years we've put Cume in the backseat.  But we still sell radio and any other media with the goal of reaching the biggest share of the market possible.  When we look at a You Tube video campaign - the first number that matters is the 'total views'.   The fact that Jeff Gordon's Pepsi Test Drive video spoof is over 38 million views is the number that really counts and the one that the Pepsi guys are toasting over.

The problem is that we've really never had a reliable Cume number to sell with.  The averages that often made up our Cume in the diary books are now proven to be way under estimating the real Cume.  And since most campaigns run more than just on 'average' week any average week cume number is also way underestimating the real cume audience that the 2-3 week campaign could have reached.  It's also like guessing how many stars in the sky tonight - it depends on how many you can see, and our vision is limited.

In marketing a product the goal is to buy a campaign to reach as much of the market and the target as possible with your resources. The more people you get your message to the more people in the store, the more product moved off the shelves, the more car shoppers in the lot, the more people sitting down to dinner, the more people clicking on the buy button and the more people following you on social media and becoming 'fans' of your brand.   To accomplish any of the goals we just listed you have to reach a big Cume with your message.  Just putting out a steady stream of messages to your 300 fans on Facebook is a not much of a marketing plan to increase your revenue.  You need to reach a much bigger number to have an impact and that's CUME.

Radio has that CUME.   Perhaps our problem is that instead of putting that CUME in the game we've left it on the bench - just pinch hitting here and there in our game.  Could it play every day?  Could it win games?  Well coach, maybe it's time to find out.  

Maybe what we really need is a better understanding of the Cume number and a better measurement of it in EVERY market.  If the buyers of media really understood Cume and if the clients we sell to really understood how to use the Cume to build their brands, ring their cash registers, build their fan base and learn to use radio to take full advantage of our huge Cume audience we would be seeing our revenue shares making some meaningful gains.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Your Community

Nearly every conversation on terrestrial radio's assets lists being 'local' at, or near, the top.  Great stations are the ones that DO embrace their community and most station teams work very hard to stage events, raise funds, as well as helping organizations and individuals.

It's an unprofitable investment when you look at it on a spread sheet at budget time.   All the man hours spent setting up events, attending meeting after meeting on the Blues Festival in the park, and bringing in extra people as we broadcast from the local fair for the weekend.  While many staffers 'donate' their time and work extra just to help you still need people and people cost money to have around.  You can see some stations are fading away in interacting with the community.   They have paired down their staffs with air talent on multiple stations, fewer bodies in the building to do all the work it takes to get into all the events and community needs.

You can also visualize the minute by minute Media Monitors PPM rating graphs sinking as you spend another break helping the local hospital raise funds for a children's wing.  We've all done huge festivals and participated in events with great local media coverage and opened up the rating book to see 'nothing' in return.  Sometimes we seem to do it mostly for 'logo exposure.'   Get the banners up, park the van and set up the tent - we're there.  Other times we just hope to get a mention on the local TV news - only to be known as 'a local radio station.'

Community IS very important and when you see how stations jump in and really make community events shine that is when you get real value.  This is when you build images that really stand out with the audience and make lasting impressions that may not translate into instant ratings or revenue, but they build a long term bond with the audience.   We can all think of great local events that became legendary because a radio station united the community around them.  We also know that you can't just do one fireworks show or one concert fest a year and expect the audience to be convinced that you are a great neighbor.  It would be like just running two great commercials and expecting to fill your store as a client.   You need to keep the effort and focus on being involved every month in your community in a visible way.

A couple of tips:

  • Use your Air Time Wisely - How many times do we approach an event by just cranking out a liner and telling the air staff to 'yak it up.'  The liner is a laundry list of thank you and sponsor plugs and a rambling jock, trying to make this break turn into something.   How about setting up a quick theme and building a system of sponsor mentions that doesn't let this turn into a rambling exercise.  Also don't put all the promotion eggs in the liner/air staff basket.  
  • Integrate it - Cover it in the news.  Even if you only do a few casts in Mornings cover the event on a regular basis.  This IS something going on in the community and part of the news in your community - why not cover it and get that extra mention in Mornings?   Also look at covering it in the weather - ahead on the Big Fest Weekend - partly cloudy and in the low 80s - just a slight chance of a shower.
  • Set up the Imaging to help:  A quick statement at the end of the 'music sweepers' to quickly mention a big event helps, so do doing some advance work when you have artists on the phone, hanging backstage or doing an interview - have them plug the bigger events.  With a few minutes with the editor you can tweak the imaging and get those extra mentions in the hour without stretching out the breaks.
  • Involve sales - How about a package where you get to be a community sponsor for an event.  What the client gets is a tag on the end of their commercial this month for the event.  Maybe a bonus or maybe a way to tag on a few extra dollars for the association.    
  • Use Social Media:  Tons of opportunities here to build up the event, spread the word and keep it active without taking up tons of air time.   The key is building a social media campaign.  You can't just keep running the same 'hey come out and be there' posts 3 times a day.   Get creative with pics, video, and build up the special angles available.   
  • Need volunteers to help: Invite the audience.  I bet you'd be surprised at the response as you tapped into the girls basketball team or just brought in some 'volunteers' to be 'roadies for a day'.   Don't have a jock to hang out at an event - have a budding audience star jump in.  With a little creativity and some coordination you can find ways to stay involved. 
As we all take a day for the 4th and many of you head out to host fireworks displays, hang at the state fair, or host that music event in the community stand back and consider the opportunity this event might bring or how you could enhance it.   Also take a look at all the events you do in the community.  Which ones have potential and which ones are just taking up space.  You have to balance quantity and quality to be effective here.   

Lastly, thank you local radio for putting in such a big effort for our communities.  You've all given up precious days off, time with your families, and put in lots of effort to your communities.  Sometimes broadcasters may not get as much credit as you, and the station, deserve.