More Ads = Less Listening (Who knew?)

The greatest Top 40 radio station of all time, the one that everybody copied played one song, one spot, one song, one spot, one song. The greatest radio station I personally programmed and the greatest one I consulted both carried ten minutes of commercials an hour and never more than 3 spots in a break. And they both made piles of money for the owners and both paid their people well above average. A different age, yes I know.

The long spot breaks originally came into being as a way to promote long music sweeps. That was a tactic of the (then) new FM usurpers challenging the established AM music stations. Over the years, the breaks got longer and longer and now they are near universal; every station is blowing off it’s own toes with them.

Here’s an interesting number. Pandora did some research on it’s ad content. A long sample period; 21 months. A huge sample base, 35 million listeners. Listeners were divided into 9 different groups, each receiving a set number of ads per hour. Finding: increasing the load by one spot an hour resulted in a 2% decline in average listening.