The radio survey results are only released twice a year and, regardless of what the numbers say, the response from the commercial broadcasters is always overwhelmingly optimistic. This high level of enthusiasm has become a part of the survey as commonplace as excel spreadsheets, graphs and data segments. And this year was no different
Immediately after the results were published, both sides of the network divide sent out media releases that seemed to use hyperbolic phrasing in lieu of punctuation and cherry-picked at the positive results served up by the survey.
But it didn't end there. Once the radio survey was covered by the media, the networks turned their attention to promoting the results not only to the public, but also to the media agencies and clients that are likely to advertise on radio.
"With only two radio surveys a year, we put a lot of thought into communicating the results to different audiences, and different marcoms activity is rolled out for one to weeks weeks after survey day," says Rachel Lorimer, the group head of corporate communications at MediaWorks.
"The MediaWorks strategy is to celebrate our success with our staff, clients and listeners – all of who contribute to our wins. Externally, we have four different strands to the marcoms; trade (agencies and direct clients) on a national level/communication front, trade (regional agencies and regional direct clients) in local markets, listeners on the national level, listeners in regional markets."
Lorimer broke down MediaWorks's promotional efforts into advertising for clients, agencies and listeners. This included:
- a graphical update on the 18-54 share, which gives them a transparent view of how the business is tracking.
- a tongue-in-cheek survey video that showcases MediaWorks' talent (with cameos from Group chief executive Mark Weldon, radio chief executive Wendy Palmer, commercial director Paul Hancox, and group content and entertainment brand director Andrew Szusterman).
- trade advertising featured on sites like StopPress.
- digital billboards were on display around the city.
- locale-specific advertising appeared in some regions.
- and gourmet sausage rolls, bubbles and beer were sent to MediaWorks' top agencies and national clients in Auckland and Wellington (they were also invited to enter a social media competition with the prize of having Mai FM content director DJ Sir Vere spinning tracks at their office drinks).
Lorimer explains that a different approach is taken, depending on whether the advertising is local or national.
"The national ads tend to focus on the core demographic for the station brand (we don’t get too niche)," she says. "For The Rock it’s obviously Males 10+, for The Edge it’s the simple number music brand message (The Edge is actually number overall as it has the most listeners, but it makes more sense to talk about eight years as number music brand), RadioLive is a ‘more and more Kiwis are tuning in’ message with their big increase. [And] there’s a theme of ‘thanks’ to the listeners that also extends onto social."
The local ads tend to hone in on more specific results that are relevant specifically to the regions in which they appear.
"Local breakfast shows are a big reason why More FM is now the number radio brand in the 6am-9am slot nationally. So, for example, in Northland we celebrate that," says Lorimer. "The Breeze owns Wellington breakfast even more now that ZM has changed its line up, so we celebrate that."
Similarly, NZME also used the post-survey period to celebrate some of its better results through advertising efforts, which included:
- a quirky video about survey results, which is fronted by Mike Hosking giving the other breakfast shows tips on how to be number number.
"This video showcases key highlights from the survey book and has been exceptionally well received – there has been over 11,500 views since being posted on Friday afternoon," says NZME's group marketing director Liza McNally.
- print ads in all surveyed regions were published over the weekend with key highlights (these efforts included ads for The Hits, Newstalk ZB, Radio Sport, Coast, Hauraki, Flava, ZM and Mix98.2).
- an overall campaign called 'Cereal Killers' was developed (this ran on radio and as an online digital banner).
- ‘Cereal Killer’ variety breakfast cereal boxes (with network highlight on the packaging) will be distributed to key agencies and direct clients this week.
and EDMs were sent out to all clients with regional highlights on the day of the survey.
Interestingly, the segment-specific information used in ads on both sides of the radio divide is not available to members of the media. The survey results sent out to journalists is limited to overall national and city results; there is no information on specific segments of the market.
TNS was asked for this information, but a spokesperson responded that "the detailed results (broken down by dayparts) are confidential to subscribing stations only".
The problem with this approach is that the interested parties therefore have an exclusive hold on the information, making it difficult for journalists to determine the veracity of claims made.
And while this isn't ideal from a journalistic perspective, it's unlikely to cause the radio industry to moderate its enthusiasm when the survey results are released again next year.