Looking for Growth in PPM: Focus on the Second P - People

Ultimately what we do to program a radio station and deliver a show is done to serve an audience. It all starts from the fundamental aspiration to reach and serve a group of people, to entertain them and inform them. Any successful content strategy begins and ends with fulfilling the audience’s needs. 

I often get the question from clients on what works best to grow ratings in PPM (Nielsen Audio’s Portable People Meter). My answer: focus on the second P in PPM, People. Serve both the audience and your team to the best of your abilities and you’ll do great. Know what they want, give them what they want, and then tell them that you’re giving what they want!

In this article, I’ll share a simple exercise to help you attain a better understanding of your target audience. I recommend you take a look at the first article in this series “First: Find the Plot” for a simple framework to analyze the marketplace, identify opportunities, and observe trends. Once you have a clear idea of ‘where’ you’d like to play, then you can focus on ‘who’ you’ll serve. 

Where To Play

Who you serve is largely determined by where you play. This is a critical choice you have to make in order to create a successful and sustainable content strategy. Here are some questions you’d want to investigate to make your choice:

  • How large is the audience stations or shows in the format appeal to?
  • What are their age ranges?
  • What is the gender split of the different audience subsets?
  • What is the average time spent listening to the radio of the different subsets of the audience?


  • Where is the sweet spot in terms of size, age, gender and time spent listening? 

Who To Serve

Once you have a clearly defined target audience group it is time to get to know this group closely and form a profile of a single target listener. For that, of course, it helps to have a formal research study to investigate their listening habits, preferences, and tastes. Informal interviews with current listeners or simple online surveys can give you great insights as well. 


In addition to formal and informal forms of research, I’ve found it very helpful to have the programming team create a profile of the target listener. Meet the Empathy Map, an exercise that you can do with your programming team to create a listener profile and have a deeper understanding of their life and needs: http://gamestorming.com/empathy-mapping/. 

I’ve found it helps to do this exercise imagining what this listener’s life is like right before, during, and after they listen to the radio or consume any type of media. Having the team do this exercise in that frame of mind helps gain clarity on what this “ideal” listener’s habits and life are all about when it comes to their consumption of audio or any form of media.
What the People Want!

The point is to gain insight into what the listener wants and does not want from a radio station or show when reaching for their radio or audio device. The most critical pieces of information you’re looking for from this exercise are:

  • What does the target listener want to listen to?
  • Why do they listen to the radio or use any form of media?
  • What do they want to get away from when they listen to the radio or use any media?

The strategy formulation exercise coming up in next week’s blog will help you develop a content strategy to deliver to your target listener more of what they want and less of what they don’t want. Stay tuned…

Thank you!

RadioFernando Perez