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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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Flat Gift Buying From Online Radio Listeners

The most exciting power the internet bestows on the radio industry is the least used - asking its audience questions to determine marketing strategy. We seldom see a radio group going to its online audience with surveys, besides those offering lame questions such as: How bad is your boss?; Do you like cuddling?; What do you hate the most about idiot drivers? (These are real questions taken from radio station web sites.)

"In the few times when radio does survey its online audience, it asks the absurd." I asked this question on July 21, 2011: "Is anybody thinking about the power that they have in hand, when using a radio station's web site to ask consumers solid questions?" Of course, there was no answer and I'm not expecting one.

But let's ask online radio listeners how they will use the internet for holiday shopping this year, and compare answers to the same question asked in 2005, 2009.

While we read of an increase in online holiday spending, I'll float the concept that this "increase" comes from a higher number of people online and not more online people turning to the internet for purchasing gifts. My theory comes from the following charts, outlining Audio Graphics/Borrell Associates surveys of online radio listeners. (We've been conducting these surveys of online radio listeners since 2003, and remain the only source that continuously surveys the internet radio audience.)

Here's what comparing three years of data shows: There is so little deviation that the only word to use in describing online holiday purchasing by internet radio listeners is "flat."

Let's look at the differentials represented here; it's the response to the question asked each year: "Do you plan to shop online for the 20[XX] holiday season? If YES, how much will you budget for holiday shopping online?"

In what may be attributed to the economy, we see that while the number of those who report to be spending online rose 3.67% between 2009 to 2011, it's 6.12% less than what was reported in 2005.

There is very little year-to-year movement in any of the dollar groups, or from online radio listeners who say they will not be shopping online.

Stacking the pie charts, you can see how internet radio listeners' intent to buy holiday gifts online is extremely consistent.

The information displayed is for one topic, online holiday purchases. The point that needs to be made, though, is how radio has within its grasp an ability to go directly to consumers and ask their opinions on hundreds of programming and advertiser-related items.

For as long as the radio industry has been trying to "do something" online that will reap benefits, it's overlooked the power of surveying audience. And in the few times when radio does survey its online audience, it asks the absurd.

"Do you like cuddling?" I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it was that whoever dreamed up this question was trying to accomplish. Perhaps the goal was to avoid the work required in getting an answer that could be used for improvement. If that was the case, this person succeeded.

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