This is part two of our discussion on how examining exposures instead of spins will help you hear music rotations the way your listeners hear them.
Our previous post introduced the concept of thinking about how often your listener hears a song on your station (exposures) instead of how often you play it (spin counts). For a typical CHR station in a PPM® market whose P1 listeners spend four hours a week with the station, we showed how spinning a song 45 times a week would only result in 1.07 exposures a week for the station’s typical P1 listener.
You’ve been using benchmarks for spin counts for years, however. How should you think about exposures?
While it might be a strange metric for programmers, your station’s sales department has been using this metric for decades. They call it frequency—and for years the rule of thumb has been that an individual listener needs to hear a commercial at least three times a week in order to remember the commercial, otherwise, the brain simply doesn’t register hearing it enough to remember the message.
That means a typical CHR, whose P1 listeners spend four hours a week with the station on average, would need to spin a song 126 times a week for a typical P1 listener to hear the song three times a week on the station.
This three exposures a week benchmark may not apply to songs. After all, your listeners hopefully find your music more compelling than your commercials. So while we’re not suggesting CHR outlets should spin currents 126 times a week, this example does explain why a new song with 45 spins a week still isn’t becoming familiar in your callout research overnight, especially if you’re the only station in town playing it: Even your P1s are only hearing it once a week on your station: By the time listeners hear the song a second time, they’ve already forgotten hearing it the first time.
Examining exposures also explains why the 300-spin rule so many programmers heard years ago about familiarity in new music research isn’t a reliable benchmark today, especially if those spins are stretched out over many weeks.
In a future post, we’ll explore what we’ve learned through our Integr8 New Music Research about what factors makes songs become familiar hits. In the meantime, try using this formula to calculate exposures for some of your categories to get a sense of how often your P1 listeners* actually hear those songs:
Exposures = Weekly TSL x (Spins / 168)
*We recommend calculating this figure among your P1 listeners instead of your broader Weekly Cume audience because your Cume audience includes people who are exposed to your station, but didn’t actively choose to listen to it, thereby spending far less time with you than the typical fan of your station. To understand exposures among lighter listeners, plug in your Weekly TSL among P2 listeners.
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