Don’t Touch That Dial! …Turns Out They Aren’t

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Don’t Touch That Dial! …Turns Out They Aren’t

Super Bowl Sunday is the one day a year that the commercials are almost as important as they show they are interrupting. The other 364 days a year a commercial triggers a trip to the fridge or bathroom.  Of course as I may have mentioned two or three hundred times before, when people are listening to radio they are already doing something else.

So what does the radio audience do when a commercial comes on the air?  According to “What Happens When the Spots Come On: 2011,” a comprehensive update of a landmark 2006 study on radio audience behavior during commercial breaks—they do NOTHING but LISTEN!

Arbitron, Media Monitors and Coleman Insights studied 18 million commercial breaks across 48 markets and found radio delivers more than 93% of its lead-in audience during the average commercial break. 62 million minutes of commercials and 866 stations for a year of audience data from all 48 PPM (Portable People Meter) markets compared the audience level for each minute of a commercial break to the audience for the minute before the spots began.

All those advertisers, agencies and radio people now had to put to rest the urban legend of the Serial Dial Changer. Here are some highlights of the study:

  • One to three-minute breaks deliver audience levels almost equal to the lead in audience with a range of 100% for one- minute break to 96% for a three-minute break
  • Longer spot breaks of four to six minutes plus delivered 90% of the lead-in audience
  • Among teens and persons 18-24, radio delivers nearly 90% of its lead-in audience with people age 65 plus delivering 98% of the lead-in audience
  • Spot breaks during morning drive deliver 97% of their lead-in audience on average
  • There is little difference between markets in terms of average audience delivery
  • Audience delivery was consistent throughout the year (93%-94% during each month of the year)

As advertisers, the news is good, possibly even great. However it does mean we have our work cut out for us. We no longer have to wonder if they are listening. Now we have to focus on what they are hearing. Is your spot direct? Does say how you are different or better than your competition? Do you feature your best? Do you make a compelling offer? Are you making it easy for your listener to take action.  You now know you have them. It is up to you to keep them!

Monica Caraffa is a Senior Account Manager at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above. Visit our website