Yep, that’s what Minute-by-Minute tells us.
We looked at over 500 commercial breaks across multiple formats and stations. We compared the number of panelists at the start of a break to the number at the end of the break.
We found that rather than lose panelists, radio stations had a net gain of panelists by the end of the breaks.
Panelists ran away less than a third (37%) of the time. That compares to 43% of breaks that saw an increase. (There was no change during the rest of the breaks.)
Do you believe that more commercial breaks really translates into more listeners?
If you don’t, how can you trust minute-by-minute to tell you anything else useful about your programming?
We’ll look at the commercial break phenomenon in greater detail in a future post, but in this post we’re going to discuss the three biggest problems with minute-by-minute, and why you may be misled if you use it to make programming decisions.
No Way to Attribute Tune-Ins and Tune-Outs
If you make programming decisions based on minute-by-minute it means that you believe that meter count changes reflect actual reactions to content.
But much of the evidence suggests just the opposite, that many if not most meter count changes are driven by factors other than content.
The fact that PPM says people like commercials should be the first clue that maybe a decline or increase in meter counts has little to do with your programming.
The meter is not perfect.
If PPM is to be believed, the majority of panelists listen to a single station, switching it on and then nine or ten minutes later switching it off.
That’s what PPM says.
According to Nielsen's own research, proportionately few panelists actually switch from one station to another.
In other words, the majority of minute-by-minute tune-outs are not when someone switches to another station.
Can we really believe minute-by-minute switching behavior when the majority of panelists aren’t really switching?
Knowing what we now know, it is far more likely that many occasions of switching behavior reflect flaws with PPM rather than a real reaction to what a person is hearing on the radio.
Keep in mind PPM detects some programming better than other programming.
So an apparent decline in meter counts can be nothing more than poorly encoded programming, perhaps a bad commercial, an MP3, a caller on the telephone, or a whiny jock.
Nielsen has assured us that encoding redundancy improves meter reliability at the quarter-hour level, but reliability at the minute level is another matter.
These reasons alone seriously compromise Minute-by-Minute as a useful programming tool.
Unfortunately, the problems don’t stop there.
We’ll explain additional problems in part 2. In the meantime, take a look at what happens to meter counts during your commercial breaks. Do you gain or lose listeners?