Monday, April 5, 2010

On Demand meets Music Research

How important is “On Demand” in our cultural evolution? Americans are no longer satisfied with Freedom of Choice. In a digital world, we want Freedom of Choice On Demand. Consumers now expect to do what we want, when we want.

During the NCAA Basketball Tournament, we didn’t have to settle for the game CBS chose to broadcast. We could go online and watch whatever game we chose. And with time-shifting digital technology, we could watch when we were ready, on demand. According to CBS, viewers did both of these in record numbers.

In my house we watch Flash Forward, but not during Thursday prime time when ABC serves it up. We go online to later and enjoy it with fewer commercials on demand.

In today’s On Demand world, can you imagine an airline refusing to take on-line reservations 24/7? The days of a travel agency or any other business dictating the customers’ timetable are in the rear view mirror. We are rapidly becoming an On Demand society.

As we have documented in the Kelly Music Research blog over the past several months, online research has been embraced by many other industries and we are finding digital On Demand testing can work for our industry too. Radio consultant and thought leader John Parikhal commented on our blog, “In hundreds of music tests, I have seen few statistically valid differences between properly screened online and phone studies.” Pollack Media’s Pat Welsh agrees that effective online research is “all about sample recruitment and integrity, not about the means of conducting the test.”

Traditionally, Callout and other telephone research happens between the hours of 5pm and 9pm local time. As Kelly Music Research has begun permitting our telephone research panelists to migrate to our 24/7 On Demand digital music testing platforms, it is clear the market is ready for it. Telephone research panelists are giving us their e-mail addresses without hesitation so they can participate in our music surveys when it is convenient for them. Radio listeners are happy to share their opinions about music, but not while they are sitting at the dinner table.

Prior to our 24/7 digital research option, KMR used to get callbacks to our office during the day from listeners who would say things like, “You called me last night to do a music survey and I could not do it then, but I can do it now.” Unfortunately, unless our call center was open and staffed, we would miss these willing respondents. It became increasingly frustrating for us as we wondered how much of the typical Radio listening audience was missed while we were confined to 5p to 9p telephone surveys.

Since our digital platform has launched, Kelly Music Research has been monitoring “Start Times” of our online callout and library surveys. For example, we typically give digital callout respondents a window of about 48 hours to complete a survey. We are seeing that after invitation, only about 25% start their online music survey between 5pm and 9pm local time. The remaining 75% start their surveys at other times of day or night. Seventy Five Percent! This is a huge number of listeners who may work second or third shift, or may not be available between 5p and 9p for some reason, or simply prefer not to be interrupted in the evening just because “Kelly Music Research” shows up on their Caller ID. Now that we have digital research On Demand 24/7, we are now reaching new radio listeners who otherwise went untapped.

With the introduction of our online digital option, our song survey participation rates have increased. Now that our research panelists are not restricted to doing surveys on the phone, they are more receptive to our invitations. Even better, with our On Demand model, we are now attracting new radio listeners who could not or would not pick up the phone for a telephone survey between 5pm and 9pm.

The On Demand digital model is clearly more inclusive. Of course, maintaining strict research control measures, panel management and verification procedures are critical to the success of online surveys. However, flexibility in an On Demand culture is no longer an option. If we restrict our music surveys to 5pm to 9pm, we are going to exclude a large segment of the Radio audience. Likewise, if CBS had not let me choose the game, they would have lost me. If ABC only let me watch Flash Forward on Thursdays at 8pm, I’d never see it. And if an airline restricted me to booking travel 9a to 5p, I’d rarely fly them. Would you?