Ratings play a critical role in determining the best television or radio schedule for your local media campaigns.
Without a basic understanding of how ratings are measured or why ratings delivery matters, it is difficult to know if the station proposal is a good investment or a waste of valuable local media dollars.
While subscriptions to ratings measurement tools, such as Nielsen and Arbitron, can be very expensive and unaffordable for most small advertisers, it is important to understand how to use ratings data to analyze proposals from the local broadcast media.
1. Station or Program Delivery
Ratings are simply a measurement of audience. A 1.0 rating equates to 1% of the audience you are trying to reach. If your target audience is Adults 18-49, then a program with a 1.0 rating will reach 1% of Adults 18-49 in the geographic area (i.e. TV DMA, radio metro).
Try to focus your local media schedule on higher rated programming, not just low rated, less expensive programs that don’t reach your target audience. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.
By the same token, if you are looking at a group of radio stations, make sure you are evaluating the top rated stations in your demographic. Don’t use lower rated stations just because the schedule is less expensive.
2. Cost Per Rating Point
Ratings are also used to compare the cost of the various programs or stations.
When considering the cost of your local media schedule, also think about how much it is costing per rating point, which is referred to in media terms as cost per point (CPP). CPP is simply the cost of the program or schedule divided by the rating points it delivers.
Using a CPP is the only way to compare programs and stations as “apples to apples.” You may find a spot with a low rate also has a low rating delivery, and actually has a HIGHER CPP than a commercial that costs twice as much. Spot rate can be deceiving.
While some types of programming, like television prime time, will cost more per rating point, you should be able to compare cost per points in similar time periods to determine efficiency.
3. Overall Campaign Delivery
While there is no hard fast rule about how many rating points need to run in a local media schedule, a good rule of thumb is to have at least 100 rating points per week to make an impact. Depending on the objectives of your campaign, it is not uncommon for some advertisers to run as many as 300-400 rating points per week.
While cost can certainly be a factor in determining how many rating points you can afford, remember that running at very low levels can be a waste of dollars, if your message is not heard enough to have an impact.