Focus On Those Heavy Listeners


(By Charlie Sislen) As we approach 2021, similar to past years, many people make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. While a diet is a good idea for most of us (especially me), there is a place where “heavy” is advantageous – advertising. Many agree that advertising is most effective with heavy users of a given advertising outlet.

Because of this, it is valuable to understand how heavy users of different media categories vary from one another.

The best way to conduct a fair comparison is by using quintile analysis. Quintiles take the population and rank them from heaviest to lightest usage of a particular category. It then divides them into fifths. Quintile 1 represents the heaviest users of media, while quintile 5 represents the lightest users. Many will agree that for an advertising outlet to be most effective, quintile 1 should be the target. For example, using an outlet whose listeners have low incomes will not be as effective when selling an upscale product.

Using Scarborough, The Media Audit, or other qualitative research resources, we can judge which is the best vehicle to reach your target. The greatest benefit is that these services provide data on a local market basis. A heavy radio listener in Miami probably has a different profile than that of a heavy radio listener in Minneapolis.

This is especially impactful when comparing heavy (Quintile 1) radio listeners to heavy TV viewers. While all generalizations stink (including this one), radio’s Quintile 1 listeners are younger and more upscale than television’s quintile 1 viewers. The advantage does not stop there. In just about any qualitative category, we can tell if consumers are heavy or light users of radio or television.

Radio and television are not the only advertising outlets in which we can profile heavy users.

In major markets, Scarborough provides Quintile Analysis for:

  • Digital video display
  • Internet use
  • Mall media exposure
  • Miles traveled (outdoor advertising exposure)
  • Newspaper print edition
  • Radio
  • Television

First, pull a consumer profile for your market of heavy radio listeners (Quintile 1) and sell their value. Also, build a profile of light users of other media (Quintile 5) and go after their advertisers.

Tell the story and back it up with facts.

Charlie Sislen is a partner at Research Director, Inc. He can be reached at 410-956-0363 or by e-mail at [email protected]. This essay is part of a series titled “Growing the Radio Pie.” To view past articles, visit The Ratings Experts at Research Director, Inc. online here.


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