Price of everything and Value of nothing.

Beyond CPT’s and AQHs

In the highly fragmented radio marketplace, where budgetary allocation decisions are arrived at through number crunching the Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR), it is all too easy to fall into the trap of “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Ideally, radio buying should be a blend of art and science. However, in many cases radio buying has become a myopic mechanical process whereby the buyer scans the JNLR page of average quarter-hour ratings, calculates the cost-per-thousand and then makes the buying decision. The losers are advertisers with creative-led commercials and stations with “quality” programmes. Other factors should be considered beyond average quarter-hour cost-per-thousands include:

Listener involvement.

A programme may have the highest average quarter hour ratings but not necessarily the highest number of people actually listening. There are radio programmes that people hear but may not listen to.

In the right place at the right time.

Reaching a consumer en route to the newsagent could swing the purchase of an impulse oriented product. Another example is fast-food chains who select stations that have a high proportion of out of home listeners, thereby possibly generating more store traffic. Such radio buying can give an advertiser a competitive edge.

Coverage & Frequency.

Two stations with similar quarter-hour ratings might accumulate different levels of reach & frequency. One station, for example might duplicate the same audience time and time again, whilst the other delivers fresh listeners within its average-quarter-hour ratings, thus yielding different levels of coverage and frequency between stations.

Target Group Index.

The use of Target Group Index research allows media planners / buyers to correlate media habits to product purchases across numerous categories, allowing for a better match between station and product consumption.

Small average-quarter-hour ratings can add up.

The EARS radio planning system has illustrated that greater combined audience coverage and cost efficiency can be achieved by those campaigns which use a mix of large and small sized quarter-hour rating programmes over those which do not.

Narrowing Demographics.

Campaigns intended to reach persons aged 15-34 years of age may select a station that strongly delivers the 15-24 year segment but performs poorly against the 25-34 year portion. Such buys are the result of blindly evaluating stations against a broad demographic with little regard to its narrow cells. 

In summary, radio is an exciting medium and if bought properly it can deliver the right results. Those advertisers with a thorough understanding of its strengths and weaknesses can achieve medium as well as additional value for their money.


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