From Majority to Minority: 2020 & Women in the Workforce

November 23, 2020

If you notice anything missing in your ratings, it might be the 865,000 women, who in October alone, dropped out of the U.S. workforce.

When the year started, there were more women than men in the workforce for the first time in a decade. Now, the share of women in the workforce has dropped to levels not seen since 1988.

The largest decrease is among mothers with a child between 2-6 years old. Not yet old enough to be in school full-time, the burden of childcare falls disproportionately on women, in part because of the gender pay gap, which accelerates as education and income levels rise (radio’s core, upwardly mobile audience). If someone is going to sacrifice their career to take care of the kids during the pandemic, it’s typically the one who makes less.

Even for those who don’t drop out of the workforce, the strain of childcare on women is profound. According to a recent survey of employees who work for large companies (over 500 employees), 40% “must hide their caregiving struggles from colleagues.”


Insights on the female workforce are of critical importance to radio’s ongoing recovery since employment outside the home is directly connected to heavy listening.

When examining the particularly sluggish recovery of morning drive in many PPM markets, you can see gaps in the full-time employment and out-of-home listening patterns between men and women. In some cases male full-time employment is 95%-98%, while females are 25%-30% behind. That puts an increased emphasis on winning more occasions from those females who remain full-time employed.

These macro level disruptions, including up to 75% of families in hybrid or full-time remote school settings, provide reasons for ongoing optimism. Despite short term headwinds in the coming weeks due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, as kids eventually return to school and women get back to the workforce, we believe there are opportunities for an even stronger recovery of listening beyond the resilience we’ve seen this fall.

The challenge remains – how will your stations drive daily cume and convert increased listening to rank and revenue growth? It’s incumbent to rebuild listening habits and grow cume, not just coming out of Christmas music, but on an ongoing basis as vaccines are distributed and local restrictions are lifted. 

Understanding the immense challenges of childcare on young families or older parents who according to Pew Research are seeing their grown children (18-29 year-olds) return home to live in record numbers, provides an opportunity to super serve our employed, heavy listeners. Focusing on the lives of your listeners will help you outperform the competition as well as streaming platforms built on algorithms not local companionship.

Don’t go into 2021 without a strategic growth plan. Invest time in your strategy on-air and off, so you are in a position to respond rather than react to whatever opportunities and challenges come your way. We look forward to helping you outperform the market as you drive rank and revenue growth.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Tony Bannon, Jen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran
President and COO

2021 Starts Now: Accelerate Your Growth of Listening and Revenue

October 26, 2020

Once budgets are initially built, the focus returns to forecasting, if it ever actually left. Not only monitoring the pace of revenue, but also trying to determine the best way to spend station marketing dollars in the midst of so much COVID-19 induced disruption.

At the virtual Cannes Lions Effectiveness event this year, research was presented to help answer the timeless question of what predictably moves the needle when it comes to marketing.

The Effectiveness Code is highly regarded research from Peter Field and James Hurman. The results focus on three main areas: investment, duration and the number of platforms utilized.

The more you spend and the longer you run are important, albeit straightforward conversations. the number of platforms utilized in your marketing strategy as a key indicator of effectiveness is worth further conversation, especially when station marketing has to rapidly move the needle during each compressed ratings period.

In the midst of so much noise and disruption in the lives of employed, heavy radio listeners, leveraging multiple platforms is essential to driving Daily Cume, the lifeblood of your ratings and revenue. For decades we’ve utilized a strategic approach of Repeat & Varied contact. It’s the cornerstone of DMR/Interactive’s 360° Listener Engagement Strategy

Simultaneously putting your message on their device, screen, inbox, mailbox and/or phone at-work along with leveraging Word of Mouth marketing through Audience Amplification generates awareness and active engagement with your brand.

In fact, according to research, campaigns using at least 5 platforms deliver ROI levels 35% higher than marketing featuring a single platform.

Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, search, display, text messaging, OTT, direct mail (which is how Nielsen interacts with every household), work place calls, email marketing, and/or Surprise & Delight touch points to your Super-Fans, let’s discuss the marketing mix and duration that maximizes your 2021 budget and is right for your competitive situation.

For many stations, it’s about a quick start to the New Year. Some need to keep powder dry until Q1 revenue comes into focus, while others want to focus on winning Q3 – essential to annual buys. Each situation is different, so connect with Catherine Jung or Tony Bannon today.

In addition, while you continue to evaluate and plan your overall marketing strategy, one platform that deserves fresh scrutiny is your budget for traditional TV.

Along with the billion hour surge of weekly streaming and OTT video consumption we all witnessed in Q2, the Nielsen Total Audience Report in August described the linear TV audience this way, “older consumers ages 55 and up …  are the heaviest television viewing group.” This isn’t an indictment of TV, it’s a timely reminder for radio stations looking to maximize their ROI.  

Not only are TV viewers predictably older than your core target, but by definition, heavy TV viewers are often out of the workforce and therefore light radio listeners, who don’t listen enough to truly matter.

As Westwood One says, “Most of the impressions TV delivers are among persons 55+.” Of course Pierre Bouvard is deftly making the case why advertisers need to enhance their TV buy with radio, but a version of the same logic applies when it comes to radio marketing itself.

“According to Nielsen, 49% of persons 25-54 in America are light TV viewers who generate only 9% of total TV time spent. AM/FM radio to the rescue! AM/FM radio reaches 90% of America’s light TV viewers.”

The Everyone’s Listening blog post continues, “A wise media planner once said, ‘You cannot solve your light TV viewer problem by buying more TV.’” That’s especially true for radio station marketing.

The time-shifted flexibility that OTT provides has achieved an inflection point during this pandemic, especially for hard to reach light TV viewers who increasingly are cutting the cord. With precision targeting and unmatched full video views, we’re seeing 25-30% of TV budgets shifting to OTT.

Despite being crunched for time and funding, don’t let a low price be the primary tool used to determine your marketing plan, as it tends to be a poor predictor of overall effectiveness. TV trade, that runs across day parts with minimal targeting, especially when it comes to OTT that gets bonused, is unlikely to deliver meaningful results.

In addition, $30,000 that’s improperly targeted and doesn’t involve active management throughout the campaign, suddenly becomes a very expensive investment when it doesn’t move the needle. Meanwhile, $100,000 in marketing that drives sustained ratings growth and delivers $650,000 in spot revenue is both efficient and effective with an ROI of 6.5X. 

While the fundamentals of recruiting and engaging employed, heavy listeners are consistent across markets and formats, each competitive situation is different and benefits from a customized marketing mix. You can’t pick from a pre-built menu, like you’re ordering an extra value meal.

Don’t go into 2021 with a half-baked plan. Invest the time now, so when funds are released, you’ll outperform the market as you drive rank and revenue growth during this ongoing recovery.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Tony Bannon, Jen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran
President and COO

Open Letter to Radio: The Next 100 Years Starts with Winning Now

September 2, 2020

September 2, 2020

An Open Letter to Radio on Labor Day (5th edition),

If radio ever wanted to field a nationwide research project to test the relationship between listening and employment, COVID-19 has provided that opportunity.

The results validate what we’ve known to be true, listening is driven by employed consumers who commute to work and have daily listening habits to give.

This year has tested the mettle of AM/FM radio in a myriad of ways during this run up to the 100th anniversary of commercial broadcasting, which began on Election Night in Pittsburgh with KDKA-AM delivering election results (Harding won in a landslide).

As we prepare for another election and the next 100 years, radio continues to answer the call for our advertisers and the communities we serve.

At the onset of the pandemic in March, workers experienced a decade‘s worth of disruption and innovation overnight.

While companies across industries evaluate what trends will continue long after a vaccine has been administered, the resilience and evolution of AM/FM radio is on full display.

Despite listening being impacted due to shelter in place orders, as local economies have reopened and more workers have resumed their commute, radio is bouncing back.

Consumption trends that began before COVID-19 have also continued in earnest this year.

Take wireless ear buds. As more people are seeking out their favorite stations on a mobile device, Nielsen is working to ensure that listening on headphones is being fully captured in their audience estimates, including new initiatives set to become currency in OCT PPM.

In addition, as radio continues to unlock the potential of digital streaming, lower overall listening levels brought on by COVID-19 have helped spotlight stations that are seeing meaningful AQH contributions from their streams.

Leveraging these insights and opportunities will continue to be valuable in the months and years ahead, especially as segments of the workforce continue to find themselves without a daily commute.

Meanwhile as mid-days and afternoon drive lead the recovery, it’s consumption on actual AM/FM radios that is leading the way.

When people are at-work and on the go, they seek out radio. That’s why AM/FM’s audience is younger, more employed and has a higher household income than heavy TV viewers who are 55+.

Another key insight from this year is the importance of habit formation. As the school year begins and new routines are once again being formed, the importance of re-establishing listening habits is essential to winning now.

One of the best ways to create habits and drive cume is through Word of Mouth.

We began the year with our 20/20 Vision post talking about the impact of organic influencers. Bypassing social media celebrities for real listeners who are passionate about your station and willing to share it with their friends and co-workers. These Super-Fans and Amplifiers play an essential role in your ongoing recovery, but you can’t afford to leave it up to chance. DMR/Interactive helps you facilitate the share and identify your High Value Listeners by name and reward them with Surprise and Delight touch-points.

Since habits don’t form overnight, a proven strategy that we leverage to help stations generate P1 listening habits is implementation-intention and it has been shown to increase habit formation by 160%. In short, it’s the process of asking listeners, old and new alike, to think about where your station currently fits into their week.

In this increasingly fragmented audio landscape, we have to earn their listening and keep them coming back for more.

Radio remains the 800-pound gorilla of audio. However, it’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there in the first place.

Keeping them coming back for more sounds intuitive and straightforward. However it requires a renewed focus and ongoing commitment to “Be Better“ from everyone in radio to ensure we win now – both during and after this pandemic.

Your advertisers and listeners expect that of you and you can expect it of us.

Building relationships with the employed heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue isn’t a box to be checked or a process to be completed, it’s a relentless pursuit.

On behalf of Catherine JungTony BannonJen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

This letter is the 5th installment in an annual series that started in 2016, written to coincide with Labor Day, radio’s unofficial holiday. Earlier editions of the letter are available here: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.

Happy Labor Day,

Andrew Curran
President and COO