LONG COMMERCIAL BREAKS
QUESTION FOR DAN:
I am the owner of an FM radio station in the country of Colombia.
We have one commercial break every hour at the :30. Each brake
lasts from 10 to 12 minutes. The announcers don't complain, but
here in Colombia a commercial is always 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds.
In this situation, would you recommend making two breaks (even
though the announcers don't complain)... and at what time would
you start those breaks?
Although at heart I am still "just a DJ," I must say
that it really doesn't matter whether or not the announcers complain
or how they will react if you change things. The important questions
1) How do our listeners feel about 12 minutes of non-stop
2) How would their listening habits be effected if were
were to change the way in which we present commercials?
Having visited Colombia (I was a guest speaker at a radio conference
there a few years ago), I am aware that the method you describe
is standard for Colombian radio stations.
If your major competitors also schedule 10-12 minutes of commercials
at the :30 break each hour, it might be a very smart competitive
move to change this to two breaks of 5-6 minutes each....at :12
and :48. This way, when ALL of your competitors are playing commercials,
you will be playing music...And, hopefully, your HOTTEST music
to "hook" the listeners who tune you in as an escape
from the other stations' commercials. This would also enable you,
when you reach the halfway point of a 5-minute commercial break,
run a quick recorded liner: "You're just 2 and a half
minutes away from more music on Estereo 98.9!"
In the U.S., you wouldn't want to air such a liner, because the
listener thinks, "2 and a half minutes? Why, I could hear
an entire song on another station during that time!" But
to Colombian listeners who are accustomed to as much as 15 minutes
of commercials at a time, "2 and a half minutes" of
commercials is pretty short.
Of course, the ideal competitive tactic would be to lower the
total number of commercials you play each hour...by raising your
advertising rates enough to lose your bottom-end advertisers (perhaps
20% of your total advertising) but also enough so that the increased
rates the other 80% pay cover what you lose from the 20%.
Result? You achieve the same hourly advertising income in 9.6
minutes that you had been earning from 12 minutes of commercial
time. NOW you can run two five-minute commercial breaks per hour...freeing
up more time for programming (that is, for things the listeners
tune in to hear) and allowing you to run frequent sweepers that
proclaim, "You always get more music per hour on Estereo
98.9!" (Or, during the 10-12 minutes your competitors
are running of their commercials: "If you just joined
us from another station because you got sick of all their commercials,
you've made the right choice! You always get more music per hour
on Estereo 98.9!"