Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

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Arbitron Adding Significant New Feature to PPM

Posted by Steve on April 20, 2009

logo_NAB09JPEG.jpgIn the flurry of press announcements heralding the start of the NAB Show in Las Vegas today, Harmonic Inc. and Arbitron Inc. announced the use of Harmonic’s Rhozet™ Carbon Coder universal transcoding technology in Arbitron’s PPM media research services. In a quote from the press release, Taymoor Arshi, Chief Technology Officer at Arbitron, said:

“Our goal is to offer our customers new measurement solutions using our Portable People Meter technology. Our integration with Rhozet Carbon Coder helps by providing customers with the ability to prepare their content within their current workflows for inclusion in our media research services.”

The press release further states:

The Carbon Coder software will be used in production pipelines to embed an inaudible code into the audio portion of entertainment and advertising content. This code can be detected by the Arbitron Portable People Meter™ (PPM™).

What does this mean for the PPM service? Theoretically, any digitally processed content – programming, commercials, and so on – can be encoded with this technology. Currently, a special “PPM™ Encoder” is required to insert the sub-audible code in the content, typically in the audio chain of the broadcaster. While perfect for measurement of media outlet audience, the current technology does not allow for the direct measurement of specific program elements like commercials and features. The Rhozet Carbon Coder will allow Arbitron to measure audience levels for all encoded media content – regardless of the source. For example, to measure exposure to a specific commercial or album track, you would need to know the exact time that the content aired on each outlet. You would then need to cross-tab this information with the PPM™ rating for that exact time, for every outlet. While not impossible, the current state of reporting of this information is quite challenging. One company, MediaMonitors (a division of RCS, which is owned by Clear Channel) has built a business around this process with ground-breaking products like Audience Reaction™ and Mscore™. MediaMonitors accomplishes this by electronically monitoring radio stations, storing “fingerprints” of the content in their database, and then cross-tabbing with the minute-by-minute PPM™ data. The power of MediaMonitor’s solution is that it does not require encoding of the content prior to broadcast. The weakness – in the new world of encoded content that Arbitron and Harmony are creating – is that for encoded content, you will be able to determine exposure whether or not the outlet itself is encoding. An advertiser would be able to have a window on exposure to a specific commercial – whether video or audio – across all platforms that are measurable by the PPM™ device. This is very powerful, and when fully matured, the technology will have the potential to change the media marketplace in very significant ways.

Imagine, if you will, a video that is originally aired on a broadcast TV network. The audio is re-broadcast on radio stations around the country. Clips of the video are posted on YouTube. Elements of the video are edited and placed in various podcasts. Re-runs air on cable networks. Jon Stewart airs a clip. You get the idea – all of the exposure to this content will be measurable in PPM™ markets if the original content is encoded with the Arbitron/Rhoznet Carbon Code.

This relatively quiet announcement at a trade show generally focused on broadcast engineering will have a profound impact on the entire business of media. And, it’s another “shot across the bow” by Arbitron to it’s rival, Nielsen.

Posted in Advertising, Cable, Media Research, ppm, Programming, Radio, tv | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Using a Macintosh in a Radio Station

Posted by Steve on March 21, 2009

Chris “Doc” Tarr, Director of Engineering for Entercom in Milwaukee and Madison, WI, wrote an article for RBR today about using Macs in radio stations.

As a business technology consultant for radio stations, I strongly endorse Chris’s statement.

The Mac is a terrific computer for a radio station. It is simple for even the most technophobic account exec to use and because it comes pre-installed with a ton of useful software, there’s a lot you can do with it out of the box.

For example, with the extremely powerful (and included as part of the OS!) iMovie video editing software, even a neophyte can produce compelling video presentations for your sales department or your website. GarageBand, the Mac’s audio editing system, provides many of the features of a much more sophisticated package like ProTools. Thousands of bands have produced professional recordings using GarageBand, right on the Mac. It even has features for creating podcasts – including building the RSS feeds and so on. Very powerful stuff.

For an extra $79, you can get Apple’s iWork, a suite of three applications that include a word processor (Pages), spreadsheet (Numbers) and presentation program (Keynote). In many ways, these applications are even more powerful than MS Office – and they are certainly easier to use. There’s no doubt that Keynote blows away Powerpoint as a presentation tool. Plus – you can create your presentation in Keynote and then export a perfectly compatible Powerpoint version for your less capable colleagues.

Plus, with the free OpenOffice package for OSX, you can have the complete functionality of Microsoft Office on the Mac without the cost!

I have run a virtual machine on my Mac with copies of Tapscan, Maximi$er, PD Advantage, AudioVAULT and various music scheduling packages – and they worked without a hitch. Of course, the vendors get a little “hinky” when you run on unapproved hardware, but with the right relationship with these folks, you can get them to understand.

Imagine being able to create a Tapscan report and then use it seamlessly in a powerful Mac-based presentation package to create a compelling story for a prospect. Of course, as these applications go more to the web (as Max and Tapscan are starting to now), you will be using the web browser and not a built-in application; but the principle still applies. Even more so, because the Mac will let you dress up those dull-looking web reports with some truly persuasive graphic elements – in a snap.

Back in the day, before Maximi$er, I used a Mac to suck in AID runs (remember those?) and automagically transpose them into compelling graphical presentations for my sales team. Even 20 years ago, it was a very useful tool in a radio station.

Another advantage to using a Mac on the business side of a radio station is, quite frankly, the “cool factor.” Many radio station clients are Mac users themselves – ad agencies in particular have been one of the strongest vertical markets for Macintosh for decades. If you walk into a presentation to a group including a creative director, media director and account manager and you plug in your Mac for a Keynote presentation, you will gain immediate “inside” cred. It might be that extra edge that gets you the deal.

Today, the Mac will give you an edge over the competition.

Want to know more? Please leave a comment here or email me: steve dot burgess at agencytechnet dot com.

Posted in Advertising, Macintosh, Radio, Sales, Software | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Nielsen, Arbitron and the upcoming battle

Posted by Steve on March 20, 2009

Does Nielsen really care about measuring radio in just small and medium markets? The big prize is – and always has been – measuring radio in major markets and nationwide, using meter technology. This is where they are going.

In an article on March 19th in Tom Taylor’s Radio-Info, Tom said:

“What kind of electronic measurement is Nielsen thinking about, for radio?

One research-industry veteran tells me “look, the competition with Arbitron will keep everybody on their toes. But they’re not doing this just to rate 51 small markets for Cumulus and Clear Channel. And they must know that when they look at the bigger markets that have the Arbitron meter, they’re not going to be able to break in there with a diary.” He figures “they must be working on something electronic” to counter the Arbitron PPM. more…

Nielsen has had a portable media measurement device in the field for several years now. It is the “Go Meter,” and has a similar technological design to Arbitron’s PPM device.

Here’s a photo of the “Go Meter:”

Nielsen could use a national rollout of the Go Meter and have the radio service subsidized by the TV service. It certainly will help economies of scale to be able to spread the cost of a national roll-out across multiple media. And, remember, Nielsen is also very interested in streaming video and audio measurement. So, they have a lot of ways to monetize the deployment of this system.

My view, radical though it may seem, is that the sticker diary program announced by Nielsen and Cumulus is a straw horse for deployment of Go Meters in the Cumulus markets in preparation for an all-out attack on Arbitron’s PPM strongholds in the top markets. Nielsen has a bottom-up strategy versus Arbitron’s top-down strategy.

Will this be a “slam-dunk” for Nielsen? No – because the new management team being formed at Arbitron, led by Michael Skarzynski, undoubtedly sees this coming.

This will be a tremendously interesting battle.

Posted in Media Research, ppm, Radio | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

iPod Shuffle – VoiceOver feature is a great promo vehicle for radio!

Posted by Steve on March 13, 2009

Apple this week released their latest iteration of the iPod Shuffle, a diminutive digital audio player that has no graphical user interface. In fact, until this version, the only user interface it has had is the navigation button.
ipodshuffle_image1_thumb20090311.jpg

With the new iPod Shuffle, Apple has added voice navigation, allowing the listener to press the navigation button and hear the title and artist of the song that is currently playing.

The title and artist information comes from the ID3 tag in the audio file metadata. This could make for an interesting promotional opportunity for creative radio station. Here’s one way it could be used:

Let’s say the I101 is an indy rock station that promotes local, unsigned talent. These acts distribute tracks via the station’s website (free). In return for promoting their act, the station edits the ID3 tag in the track (with the artist’s permission, of course) to include a station promo. For example:

Title: “Drivin'” Artist: “Rich Hannon, brought to you by 103 RNR where music matters”

Listener downloads, listens, presses button to hear the title/artist and also hears the station promo!

So – let me know if you use this idea and how it works. There’s definitely a lot of potential here.

Posted in Advertising, ipod, Radio, Social Media | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Radio’s Social Community

Posted by Steve on March 11, 2009

Neal Bocian, an agency guy who is a keen observer of the radio scene, has again posted a terrific commentary on radio, this one addressing the issue of how local radio personalities make the brand of a radio station. Here’s a quote from the article:

Every personality on a radio station has a job to do, and that job is no easy task. They have to create unique content every day to engage their listening audience. That personality is the moderator of a “community”. A community analogous to communities you find online, like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s people who can relate to that DJ, whether its their programming including views on subjects, poking fun at people, news events, satirical opinions- the list goes on and on. What’s most important is that they add value to the station, and changes the “vanilla” flavor to something that adds “spice” for the listeners. There is such a disparity between “cookie cutter voice tracked programming,” to a personality who can relate to the local community and listeners alike. It is like going from one end of the spectrum to the other. Yes, radio stations CEOs can save money by eliminating the talent on air and replace it with voice tracked programming, but at what price? You save a salary but you deteriorated and cannibalized your audience as a by-product. That same audience you worked so hard to acquire.

When you read the entire article, you will see that he has a different perspective from the normal radio pundit. Neal is someone who believes that the medium is unique in its ability to deliver results for his clients because of the personalities social connections to the local community.

We’re interested in your comments – please write!

Posted in Advertising, Radio, Social Media | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »