How is managing and programming evolving in PPM? Building on the “talent” insight from Jimmy Steal and Greg Strassell in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, consultant and programming veteran, Jon Quick of QConsulting Guys is speaking with several programmers across the country to gather critical feedback. Below is his first installment of a multi-part series: Quick Insights:
Reactions and insight from programmers on PPM. I’ve spent time with many gifted broadcasters around the country about their views on PPM. I begin with the PPM Rookies — Veteran programmers new to PPM (6 months or less) Russ Hill, KTAR, Phoenix; Jeff Allen, KFTK-FM, St. Louis; Rod Arquette, KIRO, Seattle; and a prominent Minneapolis manager that preferred to remain anonymous.
On the whole, these programmers said that PPM is much more reliable, much more accurate, and much more useful. At the same time, many felt there was room for improvement.
Know What’s Relevant To Your Target
We either RELATE to them quickly, or they’re gone — in an instant. Talent can no longer hide poor preparation or to coast through their programs. The key is to clearly know the target audience inside and out. Uncover what turns them on, and give it to them consistently, before they turn us off. How? Use qualitative research. E.g., if your target is a 40 year old male, be sure everything you do is directed to him. Find out what he eats, drinks, where he goes, where he lives, what car he drives, how many kids on average does he have, etc. Build your database with a brief survey of what his interests are, etc. Cut out a picture of what you think your 40-year old target looks like. Post it at your desk with WHAT DOES HE CARE ABOUT TODAY above his picture.
Evaluate every element: Is this relevant to my target?
PPM is a tool that can conceptually, almost instantly tell us what is working, no matter what the format. Music, talk topics, guests, imaging and even commercials.
Rod Arquette: “What PPM has prompted us to do is to have a laser focus on what the listener expects and to make sure we’re delivering on our promise every minute of every day. The moment we move away from our core product is an opportunity for our listener to go elsewhere. We cannot disappoint our fans.”
Jeff Allen of KFTK: “PPM allows talk stations to really track the performance through individual hours and the ability of the talent to hold an audience. One thing we look at close is the AQH at the beginning of the hour as it compares to the end of the hour. If there is a consistent loss of audience then that particular host or clock has some issues that need to be resolved.”
A License to Innovate
KTAR’s Russ Hill: “People are moaning about sample size, and there certainly is something to that, but it’s not the real story. Most talk stations haven’t innovated in 15 years. In Phoenix we spent the last 18 months of the diary in hard hat mode. We decided TSL wasn’t where it needed to be and we decided to go broad. But the talent didn’t exist. We had to hire the best in niche political talk and coach them to become what we now are on FM. The early signs are it’s working as our company is fortunate to have one of the three news/talk stations in America that are Top 5 in PPM. Broad is better. Life is about more than politics. And, innovation is a must. Those are the lessons of PPM, so far.”
Caution: The Sample
The PPM Rookies share this programmers reaction: “The PPM concept and technology is miles ahead of the diary method. The problem is that there are too few meters in the marketplace.” Arquette agrees: “We’re still seeing wobbles in Seattle and with a smaller sample size the potential is there for more problems until management of the panelists is in full swing.”
Caution: The Format
Many more were concerned about the spoken word format taking hits since PPM was implemented in their markets this year.
Jeff Allen: “Every market is seeing big gains in cume for music stations and modest gains in cume for spoken word.”
Rod Arquette: “In Seattle the top spoken word station was 11th in 25-54 under PPM while in diary system the format was very strong.” As the dust has settled it appears the format is also returning to a more prominent position. It’s too early to tell but using today’s vernacular we are seeing some green shoots.”
Russ Hill: “Most markets don’t have a single station doing talk in the top 10 in persons 25-54 or 18-49. Hill believes that cume is king in PPM and traditional political talk doesn’t attract cume. “Most spoken word stations have watched their music peers within their cluster triple their cume from diary. Meanwhile, the talk formats have seen larger cume numbers but nothing near what the music stations have experienced.”
“All-news is the exception. Stations like WTOP, KCBS, WINS, and WBBM are pulling incredible cume numbers as well as Top 10 or Top 5 shares in the demo.”
Caution: The Data Overwhelm
Rod Arquette: “Program Directors have always cried for as much information as possible. It seems with PPM we have so much we need to decide what is critical and what we can live without. The weeklies are great, but you really need to discipline yourself to take a quick look at them and put them in the desk drawer. Paying too much attention to the weeklies will drive you nuts. Aggregate the information over time before making any significant decisions.”
In the next installment, we compare these comments with those from the “veterans” who have worked with PPM from the first launch. We’ll talk to leading broadcasters representing top markets.