Not All Rating Points are Created Equal


(By Charlie Sislen) Buying radio is easy. You establish a cost per point and see which stations will meet it. Then, you buy those stations. You get the points you want for the budget you want. SIMPLE.

However, buying radio well is a bit more difficult. That’s because there is more to radio than just rating points. As I always say, a rating point never bought a damn thing.

To buy radio properly, the advertiser needs to know more than just their budget and desired number of points.

First and foremost, they need to know their target audience. Target audiences can be segmented into a variety of ways, including:
Propensity to buy

Buying stations and points that don’t deliver the target audience is a waste of money. However, if an advertiser uses a station that delivers the right audience, then they are on the right path to a successful ad campaign – but that is only the first step.

The second element to making an effective buy is knowing what the advertiser aims to achieve. Are they building a long-term brand or trying to generate short-term revenue? Could it be something in between? The goal of the advertiser will affect not only their message but also the number of weekly spots they are looking to buy.

It’s imperative to ensure the message is right. This is part of the consultant sell: advising your client on the best creative approach to achieve their results.

Finally, the result is not the number of rating points the advertiser is buying, but the overall reach and frequency of the campaign. A buy that has 25% reach with a 4 frequency and a buy that has 50% reach with a 2 frequency will both yield 100 GRPs. However, each will have a different impact on the consumers it reaches.

Why is this important for a sales rep to understand in order to grow their billing? By becoming a marketing consultant instead of a radio vendor, one can build a long-term partnership with the advertiser. Help your advertiser:
Pick the right stations
Pinpoint what they are trying to achieve
Tailor the message properly
Determine the correct reach and frequency ratio

Helping your clients succeed by creatively and strategically consulting your account will help you be more successful in the long run. With this approach, everyone wins.

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.


  1. Media buyer here — this is a very concise summary. As I tell sellers all the time, 90% of the work on a radio buy occurs prior to CPP goals hitting a rep’s desk. Sellers who only market their stations to buyers when they first see the RFP are missing the boat; the same goes — as Charlie says — for sellers who don’t ask the simple questions to understand clients goals, interests or pain points, as well as understand what that seller *cannot* influence.


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