Radio's future can be even better than its past. Making Waves, the new book by Mark Ramsey, can help any broadcaster navigate a world of endless competition. An action plan for the future plus expert advice from Seth Godin, Douglas Rushkoff, Joe Jaffe, and many more. Read the Introduction, the foreword by Peter Smyth, or buy it now on Amazon.
It turns out that a good Tweet, like a good song, demands repetition.
So said Guy Kawasaki at the recent Radio Ink Convergence conference. Guy schedules Tweets to run up to four times. It's not spam, he argues, when these folks are following you willingly. And running them at different times on different days maximizes the chance that the message reaches somebody new and minimizes the potential for annoyance.
Mark Suster at Cloud Ave. weighs in with his experiments in timing Tweets - specifically on the question of how many times is too much. Sometimes he would send a Tweet at 7pm and then again at 7.30am the next morning. "I wanted to see two things: Would the second (or sometimes even third Tweet) convert enough people to my blog to make it worth potentially annoying some people on Twitter? And would I get a reaction from the Twitter community telling me it was too much?"
His conclusion? If your goal is to send a Tweet that converts to people to a blog post sending more than one Tweet is recommended. "I would assert that people following you by definition are more likely to want to see content from you and therefore you're better off sending 2 versus 1 Tweets."
So do you schedule your tweets? How many times?
Assuming you have something Tweet-worthy, of course.
You can feel the passion ooze from this Apple video which celebrates the makers of apps.
And interestingly, several of the examples shown here are media (a.k.a. content) companies. And a couple of them are in the radio space.
That would be your space.
For my part, this is not a pitch for developing on the iPad.
It's an illustration that content knows no boundaries, that content lives in different shapes and sizes on all platforms, that content and technology are now inextricably linked, that content - quality, innovative content worthy of a "great app" and an "amazing canvas" - is the difference between a slow fade into obscurity and thriving and healthy future.
Now it's time to paint your masterpiece, indeed, radio.
Google has glimpsed the future...and it may be yours
More confirmation that Google is set to roll out a music download service linked to its search capabilities with iTunes in its sights. And that's to be followed by a streaming service in 2011 and sights set on...you.
The first phase of Google's music service is expected to be a Web store where users can buy and download tracks, music industry insiders said. It will be tied directly to Google's search engine, so that people using Google.com to look for a particular group or song will be served a link to the company's music store, according to people familiar with the talks.
Sounds innocuous enough, right? But wait, there's more...
These people also said the download store would be an "interim" step toward what is expected to be a more ambitious cloud-based subscription service compatible with mobile phones built with Google's Android software. A cloud-based service would enable subscribers to stream music directly from the Internet to their mobile phones, so that users wouldn't need to store music files on their devices.
This, of course, is just what Apple is gearing up to do: Transform iTunes into a cloud-based music streaming experience.
All of this will have several effects, at least:
1. It will dramatically ramp up the use of streaming audio. And that demand will drive the infrastructure to service it - at home, at work, and in the car.
2. It will introduce the possibility - perhaps the probability - that in some form these streams may be made available for free and financed not by subscription but by advertising. Google in particular has the world's longest tail of advertisers looking for new ways to reach the right people with the right clickable messages. And if their experience with YouTube shows anything it's that they're not afraid to invest a lot of money and a fair amount of time to monetize a seemingly bottomless pit of content. Honestly, very few of Google's initiatives are subscriber-based - almost all depend on advertiser support. Why would this be different?
3. This will severely challenge the current players in the streaming game since it will create an explosion of inventory (under the ad-based assumption) - but it will also create an explosion of demand as the streaming game rapidly matures. And with that maturity will come best practices and a booming industry. As with any industry boasting infinite inventory and finite demand, the strong brands - the ones advertisers want to affiliate with - will rise to the top of the heap. I recommend that you be one of those.
4. The prospect of subscription streaming services from the likes of Apple and Google will add a new layer of legitimacy and acceptability to the notion of streaming music. This will crowd the likes of Pandora but will be more keenly felt on any streaming services which are NOT Pandora. It's good to be number one when Apple and Google crash your party.
5. Satellite Radio will remain in the game because of their tight relationship with automakers and the fact that much of satellite radio loyalty stems from everything but music. For the foreseeable future at least.
6. Terrestrial Radio will have to either get serious about their streaming efforts to level the playing field or abandon these efforts, throw their arms up in the air, and lock themselves in the proverbial cellar as Google and Apple zombies trash the house and pound on the cellar door, pillaging advertisers as they rampage by. Get serious or step aside.
Maybe this will be just another subscription streaming service.
Ford signals the need to reinvent Radio - are you listening?
Last week Inside Radio featured one of the most important items of the year, and I'm guessing the significance of it evaded many readers:
Auto rebound has Ford reinvesting in media, but it’s not “buying off the shelf.” The automaker’s seasonally adjusted year-over-year sales rate is up 17%, according to Ford Motor Media-Team Detroit senior partner and managing director Kevin Brown. “We’re all about consumer engagement and brand advocacy,” Brown says. That means giving consumers first hand experiences with its brands so that prospects can then “push out to their own personal networks.” The goal is to build a “culture” around the product, followed by endorsements and, ultimately, traditional advertising. It’s the opposite of the old one-to- many paradigm where Ford would start with a big network TV campaign.
During his nearly 60-minute chat with 35 Michigan stations, Brown illustrated the approach with a pair of recent examples. To bring back the Ford Fiesta, which hasn’t existed in the U.S. for 15 years, it put 100 vehicles into the hands of bloggers and other user-generated content producers so they could share their experience with their own social networks. “Those people in turn, pushed it out even further,” Brown says. Within five months, Ford was able to measure 60% awareness of the brand — months before commercially re-introducing the vehicle in the marketplace. “Social media will play a role in how we market going forward,” Brown says. So will event marketing, such as a recent Drive One For Your School campaign. Working with high schools, Ford staged 800 test drive events where it donated $20 per test drive to school booster clubs to help under-funded school activities. The campaign generated close to 120,000 test drives.
Such events represent a “huge opportunity for local radio and TV stations getting their on-air personalities involved,” Brown says. He also suggested that the distinction between traditional and digital media needs to be “erased — all of this is audience-driven media.” His advice to sellers: Forget “off the shelf ad packages. If you can customize a program that meets the strategic needs of the product, your opportunity to make the sale greatly increases.”
While it's lovely to suggest that this represents "a huge opportunity for local radio and TV stations getting their on-air personalities involved," one might legitimately ask: "WHAT on-air personalities?"
But that aside, can you read between the lines here? Because if you can you'll see that Ford is putting your best personalities on par with bloggers. Why? Both have audiences - and, if anything, the audiences of their target bloggers, while smaller, are far more interested in the subject matter than your audiences.
If there's anything we know about "viral" messaging, it's that it spreads through communities that are interested in the content, regardless of how big or small they are. Ford is placing a premium on first-hand experience and the social networks of influentials.
And what about advertising? Rather than being the first step in the process it's the last. And that means it's automatically less important than it once was.
So if we "erase the distinction between traditional and digital media" we have to recognize that, as I have been saying here for some time now (thank you Tom Asacker), there is no longer any such thing as radio per se. We - and the bloggers who compete for our dollars - are all "media."
What Ford is saying is that the customer - the consumer - the listener - owns the ability to spread the word about the product. The customer is driving the messaging bus. Building a "culture" around the product (and that word really does not require quotation marks) is not some kind of manipulative pre-fab exercise. Rather, it's about tapping into existing threads of interest and sparking them with something attention-worthy which drives their passion. In other words, it has everything to do with "marketing" - and nothing to do with "advertising."
Thus leading to the obvious question: Which business are you in, Mr. and Ms. Broadcaster?
What Ford is really signaling is an interest to shift ad dollars to marketing dollars. Now because radio reaches so many people and, in many cases, has relationships with these people, we have an opportunity to leverage those relationships in interesting ways for our clients. But we need to recognize the significance of Kevin Brown's words: Media today is audience-driven. Audience-driven. Not radio-driven. And not ad-driven.
As I read headlines from radio conferences where group heads bemoan "radio's need to get new customers" or "too much reliance on Detroit" or other low-hanging nonsense du jour, I feel like there is a high-ranked tier of this industry which is completely out of touch with audience trends and completely deaf to the words of one of their largest clients.
Listen to Ford.
They are your client.
They know their audience and yours - perhaps better than we do.
Hot in the news is a new patent application from Apple for what has been portrayed as HD Radio capability in iPods or possibly even iPhones.
What's left out of the news is one important point: We're talking about an accessory here - not a core functional piece of the iPod hardware. That's abundantly clear from the title of Apple's application and completely missed by most of the radio industry trades: "Digital Radio Tagging Using an RF Tuner Accessory."
An accessory is what you call shoes and a purse. It's not part of the dress itself.
The significance, of course, is that an accessory is optional. It doesn't piggyback on the product and thus isn't sold when the product is sold, isn't bought when the product is bought, and isn't used when the product is used.
But let's forgive the overzealous and under-researched reporting.
And let's pretend for a moment that the day will come when HD Radio capability is built right into the iPod. What would that day look like?
From Apple's perspective, this makes increasing sense.
After all, it will allow you to browse stations and see exactly what's on them without listening to them first - or, as Apple put it, "Enhanced metadata and searching can provide the listener the ability to refine station choices without having to listen at length to any particular station." Because it's very consumer-centric to recognize that nobody wants to waste time waiting or browsing for a song they like when they can effectively choose from a menu of "what's playing now" - songs rather than stations. Hello consumer benefit - bye-bye time spent listening. A radio brand is only as good as the song that's on now, right?
Further, it adds more fuel to Apple's tagging capability, and every time a song is tagged and bought one company - Apple - reaps a huge revenue share and thousands of radio stations reap a tiny one.
In a world where mp3 players are a maturing market and growth will have to come from new areas - in that world where radio is a primary driver of interest and discovery in new songs - more emphasis on tagging will become essential for Apple.
Now let's ignore the fact that it's unlikely that any HD (or any other) radio usage from iPods or iPhones will "count" in the Arbitron ratings. Remember, PPM works off an audible signal. And when you block that audible signal with earbuds you need a special clunky attachment that most iPod users would rather die than use. That means a return to our old friend "phantom listening."
Let's focus instead on the consequence of all this. And that can be summed up as follows:
It doesn't matter how many - or which - devices contain HD radio. What matters is how many consumers use HD radio.
Repeat that and make it your new mantra. Because the makers of HD radio are bent on proving the viability of their product by emphasizing the number of devices that are designed to contain it rather than the number of consumers that care to use it.
A website reaches, by definition, billions of consumers. And if none of those consumers access the website, it's value is zero.
It's not about how many - or which - devices you're on - it's about who cares that you're on them.
This post is not anti-HD radio, it's anti-phony bluster and empty marketing and pointless PR.
Is it good for radio to be featured in all its HD glory on an iPod?
Even if it doesn't count in the ratings?
Sure. I guess. More exposure doesn't hurt and it might help.
But is it even better for radio to be streaming to that same iPod - where every listener counts, can be counted, and can be targeted with contextually and demographically and geographically relevant advertising - via mobile apps which engage consumers and add value to their lives? Something which tens of thousands of listeners are doing already every single day?
You bet it is.
It's time for radio to grow up and recognize its true potential.
From radio's perspective, being on iPods isn't about tagging and listing the song that's on right now. It's about building brands, building fans, adding value to their lives, and transforming an audio-only platform into a multi-media one.
Let's Cut the Crap: Radio starts with People and Content
If you've been waiting for a major broadcaster to say what everyone in any wing of the entertainment industry knows - that entertainment media begin and end with people and content - then get ready for a treat.
It's time to talk back to the bean-counters. It's time to remind your lenders that the only reason you're worth lending to is because audiences - real people - care about and connect with the people behind your mics and the content that wraps around them.
This is not simply about how to excel at PPM. It's about how to excel as brands worth loving over the long run, no matter how the audience is measured.
Craig Bruce is content head for Austereo - one of Australia's leading broadcasters, and he is on an expedition to listen.
And he is not psyched about what he's hearing.
Tune in to this video conversation and see for yourself.
Craig and Austereo are embracing the primacy of content - across all platforms. They're using streams as brand extensions, not simply as re-purposing opportunities for over-the-air content. They're obsessed with innovation and the need to innovate. They no longer have a thing called the "program director."
Difficulty monetizing webcasts has some broadcasters pushing for a simulcast rule re-write. As listening to station streams continues to grow, some broadcasters claim there is a disincentive for them to push their audiences online. A combination of Arbitron simulcast rules and AFTRA talent fees is preventing stations from receiving Arbitron credit for online listening, which accounts for as much as 15% of total listening by some estimates. The subject of total-line ratings reporting — where a station’s on-air and online audiences are combined into a single estimate — is being examined by an Arbitron Radio Advisory Council (RAC) subcommittee. Current Arbitron rules require a station’s online stream to be a 100% simulcast of its on-air signal — commercials and all — and to meet minimum reporting standards to be eligible for total line reporting. Stations that qualify are not permitted to see estimates for the individual components.
First things first, swapping a listener from the radio to the stream can cannibalize your over-the-air ratings. However, we should not assume that all or even most streaming listening would otherwise shift to our over-the-air station. This is a different distribution channel and most likely adds new listening events and new listeners to the total pie.
That said, it's likely that SOME of that listenership would otherwise have gone to the station. But so is it likely that owning multiple stations in a market means you're stealing a bit of listening - and thus share - from your own stations.
In other words, broadening the audience with more widgets always means more cannibalization. The problem isn't controlling cannibalization - it's monetizing every platform. And it's the opportunity cost (in very real dollars) of lost over-the-air ratings set against the revenue potential for online streams.
So the easiest solution is to settle this AFTRA issue and simulcast what's on the air with what's on the stream.
Sure. But easiest is not "best" when it comes to radio's future.
And here's why:
1. If radio is a "megaphone" (as I argue), then we have the power to lead audiences to many streams of content online - not just the one that mirrors our on-air broadcast. That means one of the LEAST important streams for stations in the future will be the one that they run on the air. The opportunity is to stream more - and more different - things. The opportunity is to think of our audiences as people with diverse tastes, not simply as automatons who want our over-the-air station on every platform.
What? This means inciting our own audience to listen to different things? Yes. Because guess what, they already do. The average consumer splits their entertainment time between your station, several others, TV, iPods, online content, streams, video games, DVD's, etc. Your challenge isn't to keep your audience inside your brand's walled garden. It's to carry your audience to monetizable experiences you have a stake in. It's to cannibalize everything else they do with their entertainment time besides listening to your station.
2. The future of advertising includes a heaping measure of accountability. And advertising online can not only be precisely targeted but it can also be contextualized and made more relevant based on the interests of the consumer herself. Nor is advertising alone the only way to link the needs of our clients with the wants of our audiences. Matching the stream to the station surrenders all the power of this accountability.
3. You can already count exactly how many listeners you have online and how often they listen. What an Arbitron overlay provides you is, more than anything else, a flagrant illustration of just how wrong the ratings are when applied to radio streams. What is the advertiser to think when your stream adds hundreds of quarter hours to your overall ratings - few of which are shown in your actual listening metrics? Doesn't this kill confidence in the very tools we rely on for their precision? Wouldn't it be better to say "ratings are the best thing we have for over-the-air - and precise, contextual, relevant, targetable, and accountable metrics are the best thing we have for online"?
So in the long run, broadcasters will need to determine whether they're in the business of maximizing Arbitron dollars or maximizing revenue whether or not it derives from Arbitron-laced dollars.
And that means determining whether you're in the "ratings business" or the business of connecting advertisers and consumers across platforms for fun and profit.
The world is moving to the latter. And so are its smartest broadcasters.
PPM measures "real listening" while diaries record (and reward) recall and not "real listening."
Not quite, I would argue.
Actually, PPM measures exposure, not listening. And diaries record the degree to which audiences are interested in the stations they consume. That's because greater interest yields greater recall which yields more diary mentions.
It seems to me we have gotten so lost in the "language of accuracy" in measurement that we have forgotten the more important language of impact and effectiveness.
Talk personalities get premium dollars to deliver messages because the broadcaster, the talent, and the advertiser all know this: A message delivered by that personality works better. And by that I mean it makes more cash registers ring.
Shouldn't the value of a ratings methodology be influenced not just by whether we're counting ears right but also by whether those ears will matter to the advertiser? And the ears which matter most are those which are most engaged in the content that surrounds the message.
How well will your spots work when they're placed during a listener event that I, the PPM panelist, can't even remember giving you?
Now, how well will your spots work when the message is coming from the mouth of my favorite personality? Or from the station that I recall listening to, even if the details of that recall are sketchy?
These are extreme illustrations, of course. And I recognize that Arbitron's job is not to place a value on ratings - it's to make those ratings as accurate as they can be.
We are building a presumably more accurate PPM-based ratings methodology which expands by many-fold our audiences by diminishing by many-fold the degree to which any listener cares about what they're hearing - if they're even paying attention to it in the first place.
Advertisers will come to recognize that what's measured isn't nearly as important as what works.
They will recognize that listeners who are engaged in what radio they consume are better customers than those who are not.
They will recognize that stations with fewer listeners could actually be better advertising partners than stations with more exposures.
Recently, a former Proctor & Gamble brand manager told me explicitly that advertisers devalue radio (and other mass media) specifically because its impressions are so far from the cash register.
For all the many sins of diaries, the fact that they reward recall means they also reward listeners who give a damn. And that brings them closer to the sale by definition.
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