But so far, media buyers are underwhelmed.
Arbitron Co. on Jan. 7 presented the Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Children's Satellite Network with results of the first study that measures the listening habits of children ages 2 to 11. The study, commissioned by the children's network, found 22% of Minneapolis children surveyed listened to its Radio AAHS (pronounced OZ) net-work during the course of a week.
The network, whose 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week programming of music, educational segments and news originates from WWTC-AM, Minneapolis, ranked No. 1 with children ages 2 to 5 years old and second overall with listeners 2 to 11. Competitors include local contemporary hit station KDWB-FM, aimed at pre-teens and teens 12 to 17.
Although the study only surveyed 1,573 Minneapolis households during a four-week period in the fall, Children's Satellite Network maintains the data are transferable to other markets and represent a valid tool to attract more national advertisers.
Parents or those who cared for children in homes that already had Arbitron diaries kept a special log of children's listening habits.
"I do feel it will have a significant bearing on a lot of advertisers who wanted to buy us but needed some substantiation," said Bill Barnett, president of Children's Satellite Network.
But Sam Michaelson, VP-radio at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, said a lone study is insufficient and Children's Satellite Network should commission Radio's All Dimension Audience Research group, an annual phone survey conducted by Statistical Research Inc., Westfield, N.J., to examine other markets. She also suggested the study be run in Minneapolis for at least a year to improve its credibility.
Among some of the current advertisers on the 11/2-year-old Children's Satellite Network are Walt Disney Co., General Mills and McDonald's Corp. A 60-second spot costs about $500.
Radio AAHS is carried on 18 stations nationwide and is in three of the top 10 markets, including Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington.
Automobile, airline and rental car companies are just a few of the categories of marketers that Radio AAHS wants to approach. Mr. Barnett said that though children don't make those purchase decisions, they do influence them.
"Kids ages 2 to 11 have $8 billion dollars in spendable income," he said. "But they influence $132 billion spent by parents and daycare givers."
Although the numbers look impressive, media executives still question whether a one-time, local study can persuade major marketers to shift any of their estimated $800 million in TV ad spending targeting children to radio.
"No radio research is nationally projectable," said Joanne Burke, senior VP-worldwide research director at Foote, Cone & Belding. But the study, she said, "begins to give some credibility to the idea that it's a desirable format and that kids do listen to radio."
Mr. Barnett and media buyers agreed: They have no idea how much money is spent on radio by advertisers targeting children ages 2 to 11.
"It's got to be real low at this time," Ms. Burke said. Before Radio AAHS, advertisers never geared their messages to the age group, Mr. Barnett said.