Every Day Matters

Every Day Matters

Not long after Nielsen portable people meter (PPM) was introduced, conversations with radio broadcasters about how every minute counts became fairly common. In the world of PPM, a listener’s detailed tuning habits are captured throughout the day, and it turns out listening is much more spread out over the course of the hour than we traditionally believed. In short, life is complicated and busy and listeners tune in and out as their daily routines allow.

This line of thinking eventually led us to one of the first big findings for programmers in PPM. Occasions of listening are easier to influence than how long they last. In other words, focus on getting listeners to tune back in. And now the subject of daily occasions is standard in every program director’s ratings toolbox.

The switch from diary to PPM changed the way Cume is calculated. In the diary, it’s weekly; whether someone listens one day or seven, you only count as one weekly Cume listener. In PPM, it’s all about the daily audience. Since we’re looking at every single day, there are actually 28 opportunities to “Cume” a station during a monthly survey (since it lasts 28 days), so the more days your audience listens, the more Cume you’ll get.

To put this all in context, we looked at total listening across the three main demos in the top 10 PPM markets* to find out how often listeners are tuning in.

Top 10 PPM Markets Persons 12+ Persons 18-34 Persons 25-54
More than 50% of days 72% 70% 77%
More than 75% of days 52% 49% 58%
Read as: During an average month in the winter of 2013 in the top 10 markets, 72% of the total 12+ sample tuned to radio more than 50% of the possible days.
Source: Nielsen

Almost three-quarters of the panelists in the top 10 markets are, during an average month, using some form of radio on at least half of their days. That’s a pretty impressive number when you consider today’s media landscape and the multitude of options that vie for a listener’s attention.

Keep this in mind as you consider how to recycle your audience. Vertical recycling—getting them to tune in more times each day—has been our focus for years because driving more daily occasions is crucial to increasing time spent listening. But horizontal recycling—getting listeners to tune in more days each week—helps increase your daily Cume and gives your station another opportunity to create more tune-ins that day, leading to higher TSL.

Combining the two—vertical and horizontal recycling—by creating habitual listening patterns that draw your audience back to your station again and again is as close to a ratings “magic bullet” as you can find. It builds both Cume and time spent listening and solidifies your station’s brand in the minds of the audience as a destination that matters to them.


*Top 10 PPM Markets, winter 2013 (Jan-Feb-Mar), Total Radio Listening. During an average month how many In-Tab days were you exposed to radio during the 6 am-midnight daypart.