Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

Posts Tagged ‘Radio’

Jeff Haley of RAB Announces that Streaming Audio is Radio

Posted by Steve on April 6, 2010

The call for entries for the 2010 Mercury Awards for outstanding audio commercials was made yesterday. You will notice that I said “audio commercials.” Up until now, the Mercuries were limited to commercials aired on terracaster outlets. In a comment about this change, Jeff Haley of the RAB admitted what many of us knew all along – the platform doesn’t matter, it’s all “radio.” Here’s what he said (emphasis mine):

New to this year’s competition, all categories will now be accepting spots that were delivered via IP stream to computers, mobile applications or any other Internet device. “As our industry and business moves forward with new digital platforms, it is not only appropriate but necessary for our industry awards competition to reflect the complete sponsored audio content space,” stated Jeff Haley, President & CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, and Co-chair of the Radio Creative Fund.

This is a watershed moment. Here’s a link to the announcement:
2010 Radio Mercury Awards Call for Entry is Officially Open Streaming Commercials Now Eligible for Entry

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Radio Spot Loads – the Solution

Posted by Steve on March 26, 2010

Summary:

  1. The “Tipping Point” for terracasters is rapidly approaching
  2. Use Arbitron PPM data to test commercial load on your station
  3. Superserve your P1 audience now, before it’s too late

Background

A lot of digital ink has been spilt on the subject of how many units of advertising a radio station can support without losing listeners. Sean Ross of Edison Research started the ball rolling last week with his article in Ross on Radio, “It’s Time to Rethink your Spotload, Now.” A follow-up was written by Jim Kerr, of Triton Digital Media, entitled “Spotloads, Perception, and Listener Tolerance.”

Great points are made by both Tom and Jim. All radio people, whether “traditional” or “new” media types – need to pay close attention to how their spot loads effect listener behavior. For terracasters (I am floating this as a much easier term to use than “terrestrial broadcasters,” or “traditional radio”), the problem is like a cancer. It’s a small thing, poised to grow exponentially when the right set of circumstances align themselves.

The Issue

Right now, there are few realistic alternatives for most people who are in-car and listening to the radio. Sure, there’s iPods, streaming Pandora through iPhones and Androids, Sirius/XM and good old fashioned cassette decks. But most people don’t want to mess with this stuff. It’s the blinking clock syndrome. It’s hard enough to manage sending a text while you’re driving, let alone mess with the rest of this stuff.

The tipping point comes when easy, straightforward access to alternative channels comes to the major environments where people listen to terracasters today. We are still early in the adoption curve. It will take about 4 years for this tipping point to occur. Why? Because mass-market automobiles are just now being introduced with these kinds of features in them. As they filter out into the market, more people will become aware of them and begin to use the technologies. By 2014, these cars will begin to enter the resale market en masse and THAT’s when the tipping point occurs. When ordinary, average Americans can pick up a car with these technologies in the dashboard at their local “Ernie’s Auto” corner car lot, the tide will begin to turn dramatically.
incar alternative audio adoption curve.png
This doesn’t mean that terracasters have 4 or five years to figure out the commercial spot load thing. Today’s behavior is a result of repetition of behavior from yesterday and the day before. Begin today to calculate the optimal spot load for your P1 listener group. How?

The Solution

Arbitron’s PPM data provides the best solution for determining listener behavior on a granular level. Without spending tons of money on third-party software (you could, but you don’t have to), you can use Arbitron’s PPM Analysis Tool to dig deep into the behavior of your listener.

Running this test will take some guts. You’ll have to very methodically tinker with your station’s spot count, positioning, and other variables you think could effect a P1’s behavior. You’ll have to wait for the relevant PPM data to be released. You’ll have to analyze it, then rinse and repeat. Run this kind of testing for 6 months or so. In the end, you’ll know what the magic number is for your listener. The problem is, of course, that that number is only good for today. It will change over time, so you must repeat this test frequently.

If you start this process today, determine what your magic number is, and implement whatever business process is necessary to make sure that you implement the spot count limit by 2012, you should be well-prepared for the tipping point.

Or, you could just run a maximum of 8 minutes, spread 2-3-3 and be done with it.

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Pandora and Local Radio

Posted by Steve on March 4, 2010

Harker Research posted an interesting analysis a few weeks ago, comparing the ratings of Pandora to those of the typical terrestrial radio station. Here’s the main point:

If we divide Pandora’s AAS by the US population, we’ll have their rating. The 12+ population of the US is about 256 million, so Pandora’s national rating is something like 0.1. It might be a little higher in some markets, a little lower in others, but on average Pandora has the same average listenership as a typical niche programmed AM station, ranked outside the top 20.

This ties into my earlier point about Pandora’s time spent listening. There’s a lot of tune-in to Pandora, but not a lot of stickiness.

Read the Harker Research piece here.

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Pandora Listeners Do Not Seem to Listen Long

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2010

Ando Media released their January rankings of streaming audio entities last week. Pandora is on top of the heap in “session starts,” with 100 million plus. Pretty impressive, even when you consider that this is as duplicated number and not an unduplicated measure like cume.

But the really interesting bit is that Pandora listeners spend less than an hour with the service for each session, on average. In comparison, Cox Radio’s streaming listeners spend over two hours for each session, Saga and Citadel’s spend considerably more than 3 hours.

There has been a lot of talk about the stickiness of Pandora, but these numbers expose the fact that the service is cool, but boring. People are finding that the streams from broadcasters like Saga, Cox, Citadel, CBS and Clear Channel are more than twice as engaging.

As more streaming moves from the home and office to the car, it will be interesting to see how these numbers play out. For example, will Pandora listeners bring their listening to the car? The stats will show those connections as additional session starts. For listeners of terrestrial stations who use the stream when in the office and listen to the same station in the car, the behavior might well be to forgo listening on IP devices and revert to the car radio. This will be a complicated behavior to measure; PPM is probably the only tool that can do it.

The complete pdf of the Ando Media January report is available by clicking this link.

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HD Radio and the iPhone – Not Quite There Yet

Posted by Steve on November 10, 2009

Ibiquity and a company called Gigaware yesterday announced an accessory for the iPhone/iPod Touch that brings HD radio to the device. You can pick up this little add-on at your local Radio Shack store (whatever happened to their plan to just call themselves “The Shack?) for about $80.

Here’s a link to The Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Goode article and her interview with Bob Struble, CEO of Ibiquity.

This accessory has generated a fair amount of buzz around the internets. Many people are saying that one of the major selling points of the new Zune is the HD radio inside. Before today, I can’t remember anyone saying that.
GigawareRemote_270x183.jpg
This accessory is very similar to the analog FM radio accessory that has been available for iPods for years. It plugs into the accessory connector on the device. There’s a tuning control that you can use to navigate the radio’s presets which connects to the device through a wire. There’s also an app that you install from the iTunes store – free, but necessary for the HD Radio to function. The HD Radio dongle has an iTunes tagging feature so that you can identify songs you wish to purchase later by clicking a button on the tuning control.

I own the standard iPod FM radio; it is useful on trips when I want to monitor local radio and I am not in a rental car. It has an RDS display right on the iPod – which highlights to me how poorly stations are at implementing this potentially extremely valuable tool.

So – the questions are, will people pay $80 for a radio in their iPhone when they can purchase a portable HD radio for $50? And – do people really care about having a broadcast radio receiver in their iPhone/Touch when there are so many other options available to them via iPhone/Touch apps?

My guess is that until the software that drives the HD radio is integrated with a streaming radio application in such a way that I can choose my over-the-air HD radio station or my streaming audio channel with the click of a pre-set, this won’t be a very strong offering. There’s a lot of potential power in this app that resides on the iPhone’s desktop. Smart folks will figure out how to tap into it.

The physical clunkiness of the connection to the phone may also deter people from using it. The connection of the original iPod FM radio is almost exactly the same and I find that it’s annoying. The wires get in the way.

However, it’s a start. Let’s see how this goes – maybe we’ll be able to pick these up cheaply on eBay after Christmas!

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