Engagement Vs. Exposure

August 16, 2011

A couple weeks back, I wrote a post about how the 80:20 Rule continues to have validity, emphasizing the importance of your “Core 20” in your programming and marketing strategy.

Commenting on that post, Vision Critical’s Jeff Vidler picked up on the theme by focusing on what he calls the “PPM engagement gap.”

Jeff points out that with the advent of PPM, it is no longer necessary for the audience to be engaged with a station as long as they are exposed to it.

The reality of this thinking is that while typical PPM tactics (less talk, more segues, staccato imaging, fewer charity events) can facilitate exposure, something is being lost in the fan engagement process.

Yet, in the digital and social worlds, it is all about making connections with audiences and communities.  And as Jeff notes, advertisers are thinking more and more about investing in marketing that engages and makes the best use of digital’s ability to connect people with brands.

We have talked a great deal in this space about the need for radio to look beyond competing with stations down the dial in weekly and monthly races, but to also see that bigger picture that demands a realistic look at the new competition for the minds and hearts of the audience.

Many radio brands are successfully fighting that two-front battle – competing successfully in PPM but also providing bona fide reasons to engage.  Personality, local roots, community and charity, entertainment – they are all components for how radio must not forget what it has traditionally done to win and generate loyalty and passion.

Those same traits and characteristics will serve radio well in the years ahead.  Those “Core 20” listeners are the nucleus of winning in both the ratings and the digital media wars that are sure to come.


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4 Responses to Engagement Vs. Exposure

  1. Josh Gordon on August 16, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    I really like how you contrast the old and the new thinking: engagement vs exposure.

    • Fred Jacobs
      Fred Jacobs on August 17, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      Thanks, Josh. PPM has come along at an interesting time. In the diary, it was perception. In PPM, it’s exposure. And yet we continue to miss the engagement piece. Appreciate the comment.

  2. Mike Anthony on August 16, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Fred –
    It’s important to keep this conversation going. It’s my opinion that radio’s relevance is slipping daily due to many things but a big part of the equation is a continued focus on ratings versus listener relationships. The digital world is fully invested in the customer. Radio as an industry is getting further away from the customer.

    Here’s my perspective without turning this into a PPM bashing post but in the most simplistic terms PPM counts (records) how many radio’s are on, tuned to what stations and for how long. That’s it. In April, Amber Nashlund wrote a really good piece on why “counting isn’t measuring”. Unless you know why and in what context then interpretation of the data is all speculation as to what the numbers mean. Broadcasters continue to put a lot of eggs in the ratings basket when the data does not tell us why or how these numbers are related to behavior or give us the context we need to understand why this behavior. It’s my belief if you focus on relevance – ratings will come!

    I have mentioned before that the key to the future is the same as the past – listener obsession. Radio has always been good at engagement (even though we have gotten away from it recently) but we need to go beyond. Read everything you can find by former blogger Kathy Sierra. She wrote a guest blog yesterday called “Your customer won’t take a bullet for you”.


    Everywhere Kathy refers to “customer” change it to listener. Do the same with anything written by Tony Hsieh of Zappos or Tom Asacker or Gary Vaynerchuk or Hugh McLeod. Reading their experiences and perspectives will take us all beyond engagement and even beyond loyalty.

    Listeners are still our friends just not our best friends. What are we willing to do to improve our relationship before they become someone else’s best friend? The music you play is just the conversation starter.

    • Fred Jacobs
      Fred Jacobs on August 17, 2011 at 8:53 AM

      Mike, thanks for elevating the quality of this blog and the conversations and commentaries that sometimes follow. This isn’t really about PPM at all, but what happens when broadcasters focus more on ratings than on building great stations and serving listeners. We have said it many times in this space, and we will continue to harp on it – it is about the customer experience. Kathy Sierra’s guest blog is brilliant, I highly recommend it, and we will blog about it, too. Thanks for your contribution.

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