Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Happy 2010!

Posted by Steve on January 4, 2010

Phil Bernstein is a blogger in Portland, Oregon. He’s also an account manager with Portland’s Clear Channel radio stations. And he writes about advertising. He’s on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, too.

Writing about marketing so that his customers can see his thinking differentiates him from virtually every other radio sales person out there.

This is the kind of person that is the future of radio – forward thinking and ready to tackle the marketing of his customers businesses with some marketing of himself. Hats off to Phil!

http://philbernstein.wordpress.com/

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House Committee to Review PPM

Posted by Steve on November 25, 2009

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is set to hold a hearing on Wednesday, December 2, to examine Arbitron’s radio audience measurement device, the Portable People Meter (PPM).

The government’s intrusion into the measurement of media audiences is fraught with problems, illustrated by this quote from the chairman of the committee – Congressman Ed Towns, from the second paragraph of the committee’s announcement:

“With an unprecedented decline in ratings among popular minority television and radio stations, we must explore the possibility of methodological flaws in the implementation of the PPM,” said Chairman Towns. “As it stands now, the current system jeopardizes the future of minority broadcasting.”

Ed Towns.jpg

Congressman Towns, what connection would a “decline in ratings among popular minority television…stations” have to do with PPM? PPM only officially measures radio, and even if Arbitron did measure local TV, there could be no decline in ratings because there are no pre-ppm ratings from Arbitron to compare to!

Here’s more from this press release – pay attention to the bolded portion in particular:

Chairman Towns served a subpoena to the Media Ratings Council (MRC) in September 2009 for documents detailing its oversight of Arbitron’s use of the PPM, after Arbitron forbid MRC from releasing documents related to the Committee’s investigation. Although Arbitron promised full cooperation with the investigation, the company prohibited MRC from providing the Committee with any documents related to the PPM. Furthermore, Arbitron provided the Committee with insufficient documents that were either publicly available or biased toward the company.

So – the Congressman wants more documents that are “…publicly available or biased towards the company?” Huh?

This hearing should be interesting. Not because the subject is particularly compelling, but because it may be an illustration of exactly why government shouldn’t be involved with issues like the measurement of media exposure.

If Congressman Towns’ and the Committee’s statements are indicative of the way the hearing will proceed – discussions of why the PPM has reduced TV ratings and why Arbitron hasn’t provided the Committee with more publicly available or biased documents – then Congress will have wasted valuable treasure of time and resources.

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Radio’s future – sure seems like the past to me…

Posted by Steve on November 2, 2009

Mark Ramsey has more good stuff on his blog in a week than most people do in their lifetime. Today is no exception. He posts about The Most Important Thing You’ll Read About Radio’s Future this Year. I read this once and said, “Yeah!” Then I read it again.

It suddenly hit me that this is where we were back in the 80s. Marketers were pushing us to become more invested with their marketing. We built teams at stations focused 100% on developing non-transactional business. We called it all sorts of things, from NTR to Vendor. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of bright marketing-oriented people joined these teams either from the ranks of radio sales or from the greater marketing community. We developed relationships with food brokers, wholesalers, marketers at CPG companies, and small marketing teams consulting CPG companies. We learned all about in-store display, push vs. pull marketing, consumer promotion, floor plans, vendor-funded marketing programs. Millions of dollars were invested by radio broadcasters to support these programs and they began to return their investment. We did not sell using Arbitron numbers. We sold using the results of the last program. And, those results were terrific! So, we were able to get more and more marketing dollars for the programs and give up less and less inventory on the station.

And then something happened.

The advertisers said, “You know, let’s go back to buying on Cost per Point. And, while we’re at it, you can throw in all that extra stuff as a freebie for just getting on the buy.” Radio managers caved. NTR/Vendor departments were decommissioned or turned into ghosts of themselves. Smart marketers left radio, were fired in consolidation moves, or they were sucked into the vortex of transactional radio business.

When I think about Mark’s article and the points he makes,

1. Act more like a marketing company than a media company.
2. Be organized around an audience and not a platform.
3. Work directly with marketers.
4. Not just create spaces for ads next to content, it’ll create whole media channels and platforms for brands
5. Employ technologists who can build device-agnostic platforms for marketers.
6. Know how to deliver instantaneous gratification when it comes to measurement, and it’ll be measuring outcomes not outputs. A rating…stat is not going to be enough in the future, and certainly not when it’s presented weeks after the fact.

I can’t help but remember what these same marketers have done time and time again – when it suits their need, they go back to twisting radio’s arm with commodity pricing. And radio lets them do it.

Don’t let them do it again.

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Are Podcasts Dead?

Posted by Steve on October 3, 2009

On Friday, Leo Laporte, founder of the This Week in Tech network of programs, spoke at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco. His comments and the questions from the audience afterwards can be seen here.

The speech is very interesting and it exposes Laporte as a true renaissance man. One of his more controversial comments is a statement that “Podcasting is dead.” This is quite jarring, since it comes from the guy who many of us think as “Mr. Podcast” (OK, Leo, “Mr. Netcast”). He has built a very nice business by delivering 20+ podcasts weekly to an audience now in the millions worldwide. Leo goes on to say that he began to feel that podcasting was “dead” about a year ago and began building a streaming platform so that his network was prepared for the transition. Today, the TWIT Network delivers all its programming both through audio podcasts and via live streams. When there are no live programs to stream, they replay recently recorded programming on the stream.

Of course, he didn’t mean that podcasting was history and that no one is listening anymore. Podcasting has reached a plateau in its growth. Leo noted that for most veteran podcasters, growth began to flatten out about a year ago. To grow audience beyond the people who are willing to put up with podcasting’s current rather chunky user experience, a new archetype needs to emerge. Leo feels that this new archetype is a combination of live and on-demand streaming… different than podcasting’s “store and forward” approach. New dedicated devices like the Roku will provide this kind of service to consumers. In fact, Leo said that he was teaming with Mediafly to provide his network’s offerings on the Roku device.

Many people listen to podcasts right at their PC – either not realizing that they can go portable with their iPod or just not caring too. Many others take their content with them – to the gym, on the road, to work. I have found that loading up my iPod with programming that I want to listen to allows me – with minimal effort – to listen both at home and on the road. My TSL for broadcast radio dropped precipitously when I began doing this and it has not recovered. One of the reasons for this is content; however, the main one is convenience. I can listen to what I want, when I want. The broadcast radio over-the-air streaming model doesn’t allow for that, yet, although the new iPod Nano is providing a baby step in that direction with the “pause listening” feature. On-demand streaming might, but only when the technology reaches mobile platforms.

On-demand streaming is coming – Flycast and other similar services provide a rich portable mobile experience, mixing live broadcasts with some “on demand.” Until ubiquitous wireless broadband is available – and at a price that can be absorbed by the masses – this will remain a platform suffering from similar restrictions to growth that technologies like podcasting are experiencing. Some sort of local storage of content will be needed for some time to come. Many technical folks feel strongly that the wireless IP network is not yet up to the demands of delivering streaming content to portable devices. Today, with relatively few people (some subset of iPhone, Android and Blackberry users) accessing audio streams while mobile, it’s not an issue. Globally, the iPhone has sold about 20 million units. That’s just the population of New York. Imagine all 300 million Americans trying to stream audio at the same time! It’s not a scalable model yet.

So – to answer my rhetorical question – no, podcasts aren’t dead. Podcasts are just going through the same rapid evolutionary process as other delivery vehicles. Smart people, like Leo, are finding ways to augment the audience that the podcast delivery mechanism provides. Others are building alternative distribution channels to iTunes. The concept of podcasts will be with us for a while – until the practical application of technology provides a better solution.

Posted in Advertising, ipod, Podcasts, Radio, Social Media, streaming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Nielsen, Arbitron and the Upcoming Battle – Part II: Engaged

Posted by Steve on August 17, 2009

Several months ago, I wrote an article about the potential for battle between Arbitron and Nielsen. It was called “Nielsen, Arbitron and the Upcoming Battle.” You can link to it here.

Since then, Arbitron announced its “ARB-TV” program and just last week the Financial Times broke a story about a new consortium of advertisers and agencies

In today’s “Taylor on Radio-Info,” Tom Taylor had a couple of paragraphs on this topic. He says, in part:

Now, #3, I’m hearing more concrete chatter about Area 51-kinds of research using an electronic detector much smaller than a PPM.

I thought to myself – “huh, top secret development? Didn’t I post a link to the actual photo of the Nielsen Go Meter?”

So, I popped back to the article and – lo and behold – the link to the picture of the “Go-Meter” was broken. A Google search for “Go Meter” or the file name for the original picture turned up nothing. Any reference to the “Go Meter” has been (it seems) removed from the Nielsen website. Interesting.

So – Tom is right. Nielsen HAS gone stealth on its PPM attack project.

Also in his article, Tom mentions the idea of installing encoding software on a cell phone that would perform the function of a device like the PPM. There are many problems with using a mobile device like a cell phone as a measurement device for audience ratings. The biggest one is the instability of the platform. A measurement device for media audience ratings needs to work like a simple appliance. Having other applications running on the platform at the same time raises the possibility of instability exponentially. Thus, the whole platform could crash and detection of media exposure would stop. The way to avoid this is to use an imbedded operating system on a single-function device, like the PPM. These devices can be rock-solid stable with very high levels of reliability. There are also behavioral reasons why the cell-phone solution doesn’t make sense, but this single technical reason is enough.

So – Arbitron and Nielsen are rattling sabers, but in a “muffled” way. It’s clear that the muffles will be taken off the sabers pretty soon. Nielsen will attack Arbitron in the major markets with portable electronic measurement. Arbitron’s move is to encroach upon Nielsen with its ARB-TV project and alignments with companies like TRA and Tivo.

Let the battles begin!

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