Commercial Stopset Times/Variations

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Commercial Stopset Times/Variations

Post by rogerwimmer » Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:24 am

Another webcaster and I both run two stopsets per hour every hour, two minutes in length each. I run my stopsets at 20 after and 50 after, believing keeping the breaks an equal distance apart in the hour should minimize commercial fatigue.

I picked the time (common positions for traditional over-the-air broadcasters) based on the theory most people get in their cars or to work at or right before the top of the hour—20 and 50 give them the longest sweep of music before commercials, and even if they tune in at 15 or 45 after, they have at least one song before a commercial.

My friend runs his stopsets at 15 and 45 after, first for equal separation as I do, but also because he kicks off the top of the hour with a "Zero Talk Four Play." That usually takes him to 15 after, so he plays his first break of the hour.

He is asking me what I think about him alternating between hours of stops at 15 and 45 after, and hours with stops at 20 and 50. He says he might only change from one to the other weekly, and says he thought folks wouldn't get "used to" hearing them at particular times by him doing this.

I told him I wasn't sure audiences would notice, but while listeners taking more notice of the stops might benefit the advertisers, it also might give listeners an impression of unpredictability, and make them think they are hearing commercials "all the time" (even though statistically the number of stops per hour hadn't changed).

He is playing Country, I am playing 80s Pop, but I assume there are generalizations that apply to most music radio audiences.

Are you aware of any general research you can share that shows if listeners respond better to stopsets at particular times of the hour, and whether or not varying the locations in the hour of the stops (for example, rotating from 20 and 50 to 10 and 40) and back again increases or decreases a listener's impression of commercial "clutter?"

Thanks in advance for your answer! - Anonymous


Anon: I have conducted dozens of studies about stopset placement and I learned that radio listeners vary from one market to another and even from one format to another. The answers to the questions you’re asking can only be answered by your listeners (and your friend’s listeners). Using the results from studies I have conducted would not be appropriate. Can you do some type of email survey with your listeners? If so, ask them what they like and don’t like, and then you can give them what they want.

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Roger Wimmer is owner of Wimmer Research and senior author of Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 10th Edition.

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