That’s an easy call. You’d pick the 87%, right?
Then why are programmers focusing on the 8%?
Arbitron looked at PPM ratings across all 48 markets and showed that Cume is far more important than TSL, roughly ten times more important in gaining share.
Yet all the focus has been on TSL, trying to get people to listen more often.
It doesn’t work. Arbitron proved it. Harker Research confirmed it.
Our recent post The Myth of PPM Occasions showed that all stations have pretty much the same Time per Occasion, and that numbers of Occasions is a lousy predictor of share.
Some poorly ranked stations have plenty of Occasions, and some successful stations have relatively few Occasions.
With PPM, the key to success is Cume.
But don’t take our word for it. Arbitron found the same thing.
Take a look at this table from Arbitron’s Key Indicators of Hightly Rated PPM Stations (PDF).
It compares 25-54 metrics across all 48 PPM markets for average stations, the top three ranked stations and number 1 stations.
Notice that top stations have over five times the share as average stations, but TSL is only 30% higher. The real difference is Cume.
Top stations have over five times as many Cume listeners as average stations.
Five times the Cume listeners. Five times the share. Coincidence?
Comparing average stations to #1 stations isn’t very useful, however. The average includes a lot of stations that have no chance of challenging market leaders.
We think the comparison between top 3 stations and #1 stations is more useful, because to challenge the top dog, you have to be within striking distance.
Notice that there is no difference in TSL between challengers and #1 stations. None. Both Time Spent per Occasion and Daily Occasions are virtually identical.
The only difference is Cume. Top Dogs have 16% more listeners than the challengers.
The report is from 2011, but Arbitron continues to tout Occasions despite little evidence that Occasions matter.
At the latest Conclave Arbitron updated its analysis, once again comparing average, top three, and #1 stations.
And once again Arbitron’s data confirmed the relative unimportance of TSL in determining PPM ratings. Number one stations had 9% more Occasions (a whopping half Occasion per day) over average stations.
The far greater difference was in Daily Cume, where #1 stations had 70% more listeners.
But the notion that the key to winning is increased Occasions still won’t die. Reflecting on the latest data, one pundit noted:
The updated study reinforced that "how often" has replaced "how long" in driving TSL.
As if either matters when it comes to PPM.
Unnoticed was the fact that Occasions for #1 stations declined in this year’s analysis. In 2011 top stations had 5.3 Daily Occasions. Today #1 stations have only 4.7 Occasions, an 11% decline.
So a year after Arbitron declared that:
Getting people to listen longer was Old School. New School is to get people to listen more often.
And radio excitedly responded with a flurry of efforts to grow appointment listening, Occasions for top ranked stations in PPM markets actually declined.
So much for that idea.
Do you want to gain share? Do you want to beat your competitor? The only way to do it is to grow your audience. Focus on Cume.