Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"If you rehearse with an actor who is trained to play every evening, something new starts to happen, an intellectual process. That process can be very good, but it's very dangerous for filming because you have something in his eyes suddenly. He's becomes conscious of what he's doing - he must do it intuitively." Ingmar Bergman

The genius, sage of Stockholm and Chicago radio legend Steve Dahl appear to have something in common. Both have suggested the best performances come as a result of failing to rehearse. This is a notion experience has taught me to respect. Each performer should come prepared to play but it is not wise to prepare, that is to rehearse, play itself. There is a positive creative tension in the moment unknown. While a palpable, visceral sense of the obvious is alive among the players, each knowing their role, the wild card remains each player's action or reaction in the coming moment. The spark that is truly creative performance is awakened by interaction and sometimes even by the silence, the lack of interaction, in the unknown moment ahead. The best performances come in an authentic, spontaneous and collaborative moment when the sum of performer contributions far eclipse (beyond any possible rehearsal) the significance and impact of any one performer acting alone in the moment. This collaboration, in fact, serves to make the star...a star. Rehearsal for the sake of process jeopardizes the moment of actual performance and most often leads to an "overcooked" affectation.

Mika Salmi gets a bigger office at MTV, but not the biggest. Elizabeth Spiers has the inside via DealBreaker here

Amanda Congdon gets the upgrade. Announcement coming this week that she will sign with one of the major networks. Very cool, congrats and cheers Amanda. BW coverage here

PPM chatter: A good share of emails and questions at recent talks about PPM and the recent finding regarding retention during commercial breaks. First, perspective...

The diary is a recall instrument. Participants are first made sensitive to their listening. Awareness and cognition are involved. Literate behavior prompts recall. Literate behavior is key. Participants must also complete paperwork and mail it. Alternatively, they may submit an inventory of listening using a browser based online facility beginning in 2007. Awareness > Cognition > Recall > Literate behavior

The PPM is a passive instrument. Participants are first made sensitive to their listening. Awareness and, to a lesser degree, some cognition may be involved to the extent participants need to be aware to carry and dock the instrument. The habits of carriage and docking are key. Awareness > Passive Capture

Recall and literate behavior are not required in the world of PPM as it relates to station identification. Participants no longer need to know, remember or recall the name, call letters or dial position of any stations listened to. Station identification becomes messaging concerned with branding and as such is a tool in one's communications portfolio and no longer directly related to measurement optimization. A brave new world indeed.

Now to the issue of listening during commercial breaks...

Measures of "hearing" may involve a certain minimum use of cognitive process however measures of hearing are not indicative of any degree of attentiveness.

Because something can be heard, is audible, does not mean that you are paying attention to the sound or noise.

This is the leap not taken in using the PPM data to measure listening during commercial breaks. The data did not claim that people listened to the commercial matter however what it clearly indicated was the majority of people did not punch out, that is tune to another station at the start of the break. While some others are saying this is not possible, their claim being listeners always punch out, well, they're wrong. The facts simply do not support their case. If anything the data suggests a much higher degree of listener "commercial tolerance", far more benign than the stuff of old programmer myth, previously trusted anecdotal evidence, or any of the so-called conventional wisdom on the subject.

The facts, the data, would seem to suggest radios were most often left on stations without switching when commercial breaks began and during the duration of the breaks. However, this does not suggest participants were listening or attentive to the commercials played. Further, to my knowledge, there are, at present, no measures of relative volumes (i.e., it remains possible participants may have reduced the volume during breaks). We are also not able to measure any coincidental non-radio audio activity (e.g., cell phone usage).

The mission of the programmer changes dramatically with PPM. From getting into the head of the potential participant (cognition to drive recall and literate behavior) to actually getting heard, penetrating the "listening places" of the potential participant (hearing behaviors). While PPM offers the first capture of listening or properly "hearing behaviors" contemporaneously it fails to provide insight into issues related to attentiveness, that is, actual attentive or engaged listening. That said, I remain a fan of PPM. Please keep in mind this is PPM 1.0, and we are certain to see refinements and improvements as we gain time in the field and exposure to the data. If the pattern of the early Houston data sets hold we should consider dusting off those slide rules first made popular decades ago by Jim Yergin's Westinghouse Nu-Math. Reach, radio's real and powerful hidden strength, will be evident as never before - and that's a good thing boys and girls.

An aside: in my talks I often ask folks to draw both sides of a penny or the face of their watch (without looking). In well sold out of home markets I ask them to draw at least two billboards they see daily. Less than 50% are able to successfully draw a penny or their own watch face. Less than 25% are able to draw more than one billboard, landmark signs yes, billboard advertising, no. The point is because we are able to see and sometimes have reason to look at something it does not follow that any descriptive information is "stored" or remembered. The truth is most things are just not important in that way.

Happy Halloween