Is There a Right Approach to Using Qualitative Data?


(By Marc Greenspan) In previous columns, we have discussed using qualitative data for prospecting and profiling your station. Is there a right approach to using qualitative data? When should you use quantitative data versus qualitative? It depends on your goal.

Demographic (quantitative) segmentation is a more effective method to zero in on the advertiser’s most likely consumers. It’s also a tool that can help stations with larger portions of their audience outside the 25-54 age group. Audience composition is also an effective tool to show targetability and efficiency to reach a specific consumer group.

So why use qualitative data? The best use of this is to profile your audience as the perfect target consumer group. Are they likely to buy the advertiser’s product or services? Do they have buying habits that are desirable to the advertiser? Qualitative data allows you to show a more robust picture of your listeners.

There are two basic qualitative estimates – target persons and composition. Which one should you use? There’s no right answer to this question; it often depends on your station’s position in the market.

Qualitative Target Persons

Qualitative target persons represents how many different people your station reaches who fall into a particular category. For example: “22,500 of our listeners are planning to buy a vehicle in the next year.” This estimate tends to be most effective for the big cuming stations in the market. Target persons is your REACH.

An advertiser’s message can’t be acted upon if it’s not heard. In this case, you can focus on the number of people who will hear the message. What if only 10% of them act on the message? How many potential customers does this represent?

Qualitative Composition (% of Target)

Qualitative composition is the portion of your station’s audience that falls into a particular qualitative category. It can be expressed as a percentage or an index, which compares your percentage to the market average. Examples: “25% (or 1 out of 4) of our listeners plan to buy a vehicle in the next year” or “Our listeners are 30% more likely than the market average to be planning a vehicle purchase this coming year.” Index demonstrates the likelihood of your audience as compared to the general market.

When pitching advertisers, you can talk about how well your station is targeted, and how it can deliver the advertiser’s potential customers with minimal waste and increased efficiency.

Hybrid Approach

The hybrid approach is often the best. If you use just target persons, the top cuming stations will usually be at the top of a ranker. If you focus only on composition (% of target), often stations with very small audiences will rise to the top. This may include stations that are unfamiliar even to the most experienced local buyers.

The hybrid approach allows the seller (and advertiser) to look at the composition of only the competitive stations in the market. For example, in a large market, select the top stations (let’s say the top 20) and rank them on composition. In a smaller market, use a lower cut-off – maybe the top 10. In this case, you are illustrating which of the major stations is most focused on reaching the advertiser’s potential customers.

No matter which tactic you decide – target persons, composition, or hybrid – be ready to properly explain your choice and why it’s in the advertiser’s best interest.

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.

Marc Greenspan is the CEO and founding partner of Research Director, Inc. He can be reached at 410-295-6619 x11 or by email at [email protected]. Research Director, Inc. offers consulting services to media companies to help them grow their audience, ratings, and revenue. Read Marc’s Radio Ink archives here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here