Exploring the Differences between Callout and Web-based Music Surveys
Part Two – Normal Fans and Extreme Fans
For insight as to why music research results can be so different between Callout and station Website based hook tests, Kelly Music Research is conducting a series of nationwide tests focusing on different components of each. We recently completed a telephone perceptual survey of over 300 random music radio station P1 listeners aged 18 to 54 in the top 25 markets including land line and cell phone households. These are typical Callout research respondents who participate in music surveys over the telephone. We asked these listeners a series of questions about radio listening and their communication with radio stations.
At least part of the reason music research results differ between radio stations’ Website based surveys and Callout surveys can be traced to the types of listeners who make up each panel sample. Callout panels have more “Normal Fans,” while Web based panels have more “Extreme Fans.” And in most radio audiences, our research shows that Normal Fans outnumber Extreme Fans by about 25 to 1.
In Kelly Music Research’s national telephone survey, only 4% of music station P1’s exhibit Extreme Fan behavior. 96% of those polled can be described as Normal Fans.
Normal Fans are P1’s, often referred to as “Passive P1’s”. Your radio station is their first choice. Yours is their “go-to” station for their favorite music. Normal Fans can be very heavy users of your station, but they will tune away if you play, say or do something that they don’t like. However, Normal Fans are not complainers. They use Radio like they use electricity or any other utility. They turn it on, they change stations and they turn it off without giving it any more thought. Normal Fans account for the lion’s share of every station’s audience and ratings. Normal Fans are the silent majority.
Extreme Fans are different. Also known as “Actives,” Extreme Fans have a strong desire to become more involved with radio stations. Reasons for that desire vary. For example Extreme Fans might have a higher than average passion for music, often called “Purists”. Or they may have an infatuation with air personalities or core artists. Some Extreme Fans have a fascination with the show biz nature of Radio and want to be a part of it. Extreme Fan behavior would include heightened interest in radio station contests, texting jocks and making requests, following personalities on Twitter and Facebook, showing up at promotions and voicing their opinion about programming. Whatever their motivation, Radio’s Extreme Fans feel a much higher emotional connection, and even worship of radio stations, than Normal Fans do. Extreme Fans are the vocal minority
Other industries have Normal and Extreme Fans too. Take the Sports and Movies industries as examples. Professional sports franchises have Normal Fans who watch games on TV and occasionally attend home games. However, Extreme Fans go to all the home games as well as some away games. Extreme Fans comment in player and coach blogs, argue game strategy on call-in shows, know all the players first and last names, where each went to college, and whether players are married and have kids. Extreme Fans paint their faces with team colors, make signs and show up at the airport wearing team uniforms to see their players off and welcome them home from road games. Similarly, in the Movie industry, Normal Fans will go to the theater to see the Star Trek movie. Extreme Fans dress up like the characters and attend Star Trek conventions.
Extreme Fans are often characterized as “groupies” or “obsessive” by Normal Fans. Like Sports and Movies, Radio should not ignore Extreme Fans; however catering to Extreme Fans can alienate the much larger base of Normal Fans. And it is dangerous to think that Extreme Fan opinion and behavior is representative of Normal Fans.
In a simple example, if a DJ says that he or she likes a particular song or artist, that opinion can influence the way a listener scores a song being tested. Normal and Extreme fans often respond differently in music testing. Careful not to be negative about anything the station does, Extremes tend to score everything in degrees of positive and can be biased if they are also a fan of the artist. In Callout surveys, if a Normal Fan doesn’t like a song, he or she tends to say so honestly. In comparative surveys, Callout respondents are not as easily influenced by outside factors such as loyalty to air personalities, stations or artists. There is reduced likelihood for Extreme Fan bias in Callout because respondents are not informed which radio station is fielding the survey and artist names are not revealed.
It is important to note that not all radio station Website visitors are Extreme Fans. Normal Fans visit station Websites too. The #1 reason Normal Fans visit music radio station websites is to listen live to an internet stream. Normal Fans may also glance at pictures, check out weather, traffic or a podcast. But for the most part, Normal Fans don’t participate in radio contests and don’t go out of their way to join advisory panels or voice their opinions.
Over the years, technology has changed our communication apparatus but behavior patterns of Normal and Extreme Fans has not. Prior to cell phones and computers, Extreme Fans jammed request lines, attended remotes and wrote letters to DJ’s or PD’s. Meanwhile, the bulk of the audience, the Normal Fans, listened quietly. Today, Normal Fans still listen quietly. And Extreme Fans text, upload, e-mail, follow on Twitter and join station databases. The key to successful research is achieving the proper balance of Normal and Extreme Fan opinion.
Next time, the “Prize Pig” factor.