Success (financial gain) of Radio Competitions

So my local radio station is running yet another variable of the ‘listen for this then phone in to win’ type competition.

I totally get the concept, and understand why in theory it could increase audience figures but how is that measured? How can they tell which competitions drive the greatest increase in audience?

In most media markets audience is determined by doing surveys asking what stations people listen to. If you are running a large radio contest that requires listeners to tune in during the day to get the “secret clue” I can see how you could drive up positive survey responses. These numbers are important since they can dictate how much you can charge for advertising on your station. The more “ears” you can show, the more a 30 or 60 second spot is worth. Of course these contests don’t run forever and eventually people will lose interest. But even a 5% bump in audience can make a difference. And sometimes, if you can get someone new to try out your station, you can turn a non-listener into a full time listener.

There’s two ways.

Direct: Go out and ask people who they listen to. If they listen to your station, ask them why. See how many respond about a certain competition.

Indirect: Take overall ratings that a 3rd party does (much cheaper) and measure before and after. Attribute the difference to the competition, assuming nothing else change dmuch.

It’s not always a particularly exact science.

However…the stations get audience rating figures from Arbitron each quarter, broken out by daypart.

So, they can say…“this quarter, we did the ‘listen for the secret song’ promotion during morning drive-time, and it didn’t move our ratings, so we won’t do that again.”

They may also commission their own surveys, to see if a pariticular promotion is having an effect on awareness of the station, or likelihood to listen to the station.