We research songs – callout and auditorium.
We research perceptions and images within a market context.
We do format searches.
We poll with webpolls and telephone – questions about radio usage and habits.
And Smart radio stations have built loyalty clubs (or databases for you researchers) and continuously use them not only to deepen the connections with listeners – but also to keep an ear to the ground for the dreaded “creeping dissatisfaction”.
And then there’s Arbitron with their little diaries.
This is the state of radio research in 2006.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that any innovation that could have been gleened from these tried and true methods has pretty much already been . . .uhh, gleened.
In other words – these are great tools to find out how well what we’re already doing is working. But we’re probably not going to get many new ideas from them.
The one thing about radio research that that always distresses me – is that it removes radio from it’s proper real life context.
We take people out of their cars, homes and places of work, away from their radios and how they actually use them, bring them into a room with other strangers and ask them questions about how they used the radio when they’re back in real life.
The research we’re NOT doing is empirical research. We’re not actually out OBSERVING how people use radio – IN THE CAR, AT HOME, AT WORK.
Take the example of Bank Of America. Not unlike radio – there really hasn’t been anything NEW in financial services for decade.
So when Bank Of America wanted to find ways to increase new accounts – they didn’t JUST bring people into conference rooms to ask them “what would make you open a new account?”. They went out and OBSERVED what REAL people do in REAL life.
What they discovered was how many people were rounding checks up to the next whole dollar. Coupled with the complaint that many people just didn’t know how to save money, Bank Of America created dozens of “products” tested them and kept the best – which is their Keep The Change Program. Use your debit card for everyday purchases and they round up the amount to the next highest dollar and stick the difference into a savings account.
The thing is – it’s not an idea they would have come up with sitting around with a focus group or pouring over reems of data. It took actually SEEING people in their normal lives.
We may think we already know how people use radio (we have the diaries!) -and perhaps PPM will bring more info – but I’d love Big Radio to put some money into the kind of research that actually observes people using AUDIO ENTERTAINMENT. How, why ,when, where.
I’d love to see how, when and why people make the choices they do WHILE ACTUALLY MAKING THEM – and not answering questions about it 12 hours later sitting in a fluorescent lit room with 15 strangers.