Alarming Audience Losses in Long Ad Breaks

Fresh from launching Adelaide’s 919 in Adelaide, DMG Radio has released latest research from the United States, which confirms that listener tune-out escalates during long blocks of commercials.

In an eight market study by California based Bridge Ratings, all stations have found their audiences swindling to a fraction by the 5th or 6th ad.

Reinforcing Nova’s policy of ‘no more than two in a row’ in Australia, the study reveals one station in Phoenix, Arizona had only 19% of its ‘favourite station’ audience left after six commercials.

There is some encouragement, however, for talk based stations in Australia. The research reveals certain US formats, including News/Talk, Country and Latin, withstand audience erosion better than most others.

The findings justify recent decisions by Clear Channel, Infinity and other group owners to reduce spotload clutter – a concern voiced by American ad agencies.

Bridge Ratings’ President, Dave Van Dyke, says: “This attrition report confirms what we have felt for some time about how effectively radio has ‘trained’ its listeners to expect longer and longer periods away from programming.

“Listeners tolerated lengthening spot breaks until around 2000, when they began to readily embrace alternatives such as MP3 and CD players and, more recently, internet and satellite radio.

“Among our clients, there is a general feeling that radio must now take a stand and shorten its commercial breaks and promote this change before and after the break, and in advertising.

“If the industry were to do this as a whole, the audience would quickly perceive the change. Listeners have not left radio; their behaviour has changed. They tune to other stations or other options and apparently return in droves. They want to listen. Radio just needs to find the proper combination of commercial and entertainment content.”