How long does a News-Talk person listen to a station? Ten minutes. How long does a Rock person listen? Ten minutes. How about an Adult Contemporary listener? Ten minutes. Country? Ten minutes Urban? Ten minutes.
See a pattern?
No matter the format, PPM panelists listen exactly ten minutes. Well, now and then maybe nine minutes, but you get the idea.
Identical listening durations across formats is perhaps the most enigmatic aspect of what is arguably the most enigmatic radio listening measurement ever devised.
How did Arbitron explain this phenomenon as PPM rolled-out? They didn’t.
There is no explanation. Yet study after study since has found the same thing. Everyone listens to the radio for the same length of time.
This is how the Daily Occasions meme developed. If everyone listens the same length of time, then there’s no point in trying to increase duration. Can’t be done.
So the only way to grow an audience is to increase occasions. Once the listener has used up her ten minutes, she’s gone. All we can do is to get her to come back later on.
But think about the reasonableness of an identical listening span for every format from News-Talk to Urban and everything in between.
Does that make sense?
Is it possible that maybe the meter has a hard time consistently decoding which station it is hearing for any length of time over ten minutes?
As we showed in our previous post, the meter fails to correctly identify the right station anywhere from 18% up to 77% of the time depending on how loud the radio is playing and the level of other sounds near by.
What if this is the source of the mystical ten minute duration?
And if that's true, it might explain why PPM showed lower listening levels compared to the diaries when Arbitron ran both simultaneously.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?