Who’s Your Filter?

Thisis the real issue, isn’t it?

Every time I mention research as one of the culprits in the decline of radio, I get mail and phone calls from researchers. I’m misunderstood. I am a fan of perceptual research, and have worked with most of the brilliant minds available to radio in this field.

As I have tried to say, repeatedly, it is not the research that is faulty. Data is just data.

It’s the questions we ask, the people we talk to, and our interpretation of the answers that creates problems.

Most research I’ve seen over the past 30 years has been designed to rid the station of things that might cause tune-OUT.

The only research I’ve seen that creates tune-IN tends to be filling formatic holes in the market. This feedback is eminently useful. I’ve been a part of projects where a station went from being ranked in the low 20s to Top 3 in less than a year thanks to this kind of research.

But this market-mapping research is more rare than ever, I think.

Now that we have PPM, and proof that our cumes rival those of the biggest daily newspapers and local TV stations, one might think we could just conduct research surveys via our web sites. I think many stations are slowly slipping their toes into these waters because it doesn’t cost as much, and some don’t even hire actual researchers to help them interpret the answers. They think, I can just read the answers, collate them by demo or gender, and save thousands of dollars.

Be careful.

Technology can help us listen to everything that’s ever been said about ourselves, our company, our brand, etc. — but finding that one key, game-changing insight in a sea of infinite chatter, and then actually doing something about it, is another story.

That’s a quote from David Armano on his blog, Logic + Emotion (which I highly recommend), and his point is well taken.

More than ever, you need to be certain that one of the members of your team has the experience, the insight, and the chutzpah to ask the right questions, to discern the answers that matter, and to filter the increasing reams of data that online measurement can produce.

Otherwise, its all just noise, distracting chirping…


And we have enough of that in our lives already.