Meeker’s Mobile Message

Mary Meeker updated her yearly Internet Trends report at the ReCode conference yesterday. Meeker’s a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and she’s an expert at seeing the next big thing. In 2011 she predicted that online audio was the ‘next big thing.’

Her presentation was some 180 slides long, full of meaty charts and graphs. I recommend a look at the full deck, which you can find here. The thing could be the basis of a college course, no maybe an entire degree, it’s so chock full of past trends, current data and future predictions.

My favorite slide is some personal wisdom she passed on in closing, about effective decision making. The best decisions, she says, are often made by diverse groups of people. “Saying or hearing these words is magic: ‘That’s really interesting. I had never thought of it that way before. Thank you.'”

Meeker is talking all about mobile again this year, focused on the significant penetration of smartphones, and the growth of mobile video, which is also known as ‘vertical video’ because of the way people hold their phones. Vertical viewing is 29% of video versus 5% five years ago. In case you were scratching your head about Spotify’s jump to incorporate video, announced this week, it’s trends like this that are the impetus.

Millenials continue to drive mobile usage – 87% say their phone never leaves their side, and 60% think it’s all going to happen on devices within five years. Meeker’s next big thing this year is buy buttons, which she says are coming soon and seamlessly to wherever you spend your time online.

I’m thinking hard about online audio as enhanced mobile platforms rather than a standalone media these days. Factoring in vertical screens and buy buttons to that equation seems like a significant value proposition to both consumers and advertisers. I had never thought of that before..

meeker 2015

Selling Mobile Audio

Latest research released by Juniper Research projects that annual global advertising spend on mobile devices is expected to reach $105 billion by 2019, up from an estimated $51 billion this year. Advertisers, drawn to the personalized and timely targetability that advertising on mobile devices offers, will drive spending on those devices to 44 per cent of total digital ad spend by 2019.

As a mobile medium, streaming audio should be poised and ready to take its share of that spend. Maybe, just maybe it’s time for the streaming audio industry to reinvent itself as mobile advertising enhanced with audio.

In February of this year Webcast Metrics said that 73% of listening to streaming audio platforms measured by the service is done on mobile devices. Up from 66% a few months before, and still climbing. With three-quarters of its audience on mobile devices, streaming audio certainly is a mobile platform.

Streaming audio advertising is at its best on mobile devices. Compared to mobile ads restricted to visual displays, streaming audio is a perfect medium, overcoming viewability issues with the addition of an audio element. New technologies enable geo-targeting, and audio interactivity that enables listeners to respond easily. What’s more, listening to music is a favorite smartphone activity, making it an enhanced branding environment for brand messaging.

There are good reasons for streaming audio services to position themselves to the advertising community as a superior mobile advertising platform. The demand for mobile inventory is great, and mobile audio ad units are appealing and effective. Mobile budgets are in place and growing. It’s a strategic shift that’s worth considering..

Commercial Radio is Thriving in the UK

In the UK last year, advertising revenue on commercial radio grew 7.2% in 2014, while in the US it shrank 1%. According to an article I read by Lucy Barrett at UK’s RAB, radio in that country is alive and well and thriving across all it’s platforms:

In a new era of audio commercial radio is complemented not threatened by the rise of on-demand services and the RAB is more determined than ever to drive consideration for audio as a long-term brand building tool so growth should continue this year…

At RAIN Summit Europe in London last fall, RAB UK’s Michael Tull presented the results of a study called Radio Now. It’s a comprehensive, inclusive study of how listeners consume audio that finds that live radio and on-demand audio play complementary roles.

ROMI = Return on Marketing Investment

ROMI = Return on Marketing Investment

The study, which is well worth the time spent to read it, also find that when all other things are equal, a brand’s market share follows its share of voice. What’s more, campaigns which include radio have a much higher financial return than those which don’t.


Radio is growing its market share across the pond, not by building silos but by taking the broad view of audio. About a year ago, Global Radio, the market’s biggest broadcast company, launched DAX, Digital Audio Exchange, the country’s first programmatic audio exchange, giving media buyers access to competitive broadcast and online brands like Bauer Media’s Absolute Radio Network as well as Spotify and other online platforms.

Led by the RAB, commercial radio is thriving in the UK. Maybe that’s why Apple hired Zane Lowe…


Streaming Music Consumption Surges in the UK

Music consumption by streaming is growing fast in the UK, according to a report released last week by the British Phonographic Industry. Listeners in the UK have streamed 1.2 billion tracks this year, and that’s a nearly 100% increase over the 5.4 billion tracks streamed last year, according to BPI.

Musicians in the UK are contributing heavily to the growth — the report also notes that according to data provided by Spotify, UK artists represent 19% of all tracks streamed globally on the popular streaming service. Most popular UK artists are Coldplay, One Direction, Florence + the Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, Lily Allen, and Mumford & Sons. Earlier this year,Ed Sheeran made Spotify history scoring the biggest ever ‘week one’ of album streams in Spotify history, with 23,792,476 streams.

Spotify has also recently announced a profit of £2.5 million for last year, from an £11 million loss the year before. A spokeswoman for Spotify UK said: “The growth seen by Spotify Ltd mirrors the growth of digital recorded music revenues in the UK in 2013, which saw digital revenues account for 50% of total UK record industry trade revenues for the first time, and a 41% increase in streaming revenues on the previous year.”

The rapidly increasing popularity of streaming music services will be the topic of the day at the upcoming RAIN Summit Europe in London on Tuesday November 4th. Hosted by RAIN: Radio and Internet News, RAIN Summits are the premiere educational and networking events for the online audio industry. They are held several times each year in the US and annually in Europe. This is the first RAIN Summit event to take place in London, and it is being held in association with the IAB UK.

The event will feature presentations and panel discussions on all facets of the online audio industry. Featured speakers include Spotify’s Chief Economist Will Page and IAB UK CEO Guy Phillipson. Advertising execs from Havas, OMD, Zenith Optimedia and other agencies will discuss case studies and insights on digital audio’s value proposition for advertisers. A pan European group of industry leaders including representatives from radio groups such as SBS Radioplay,  Lagardere, Global Radio and Karnaval will discuss technology and business best practices.

To view the complete agenda and register click here. We hope to see you there!

Online Audio On Stage At Advertising Week

ad week panelIn case you’ve been living in a cave and have missed it, it’s Advertising Week in New York this week. Yesterday I attended a panel, sponsored by XAPP Media, that featured a discussion of online audio ad campaigns. XAPP Media is a technology company that enables interactive audio ads, and the panel began with CEO Pat Higbie showing the audience how it works.

XAPP’s product is designed to enable today’s ultramobile consumers to respond to audio ads while they are listening to their devices in hands-free, eyes-free mode. These audio consumers are busy – driving, walking, exercising, etc, – and audio ads are a great way to reach them, but getting them to respond to the ads can be a challenge. Enter XAPP technology that makes it possible for them to respond with a voice command. The ad plays, and the consumer can immediately respond by saying “Call now” or “Email me.”

NPR’s Bryan Moffett, VP, Digital Strategy and Ad Ops, spoke enthusiastically about their experience with XAPP’s technology. “It’s the most exciting thing we’ve put in front of marketers since the ipad,” he said. Moffett went on to discuss several campaigns that have used the platform with success, as well as ways that they are using the voice driven interactive feature within content, enabling listeners to launch a new program.

Spotify is doing some initial beta testing of XAPP as well, and VP Brian Benedik mentioned interesting results, without getting very specific with details. Spotify’s mobile listening has increased sharply in the ten months since they stripped the subscription required feature from their mobile app, with half of Spotify’s listening now on mobile devices in the US. Meanwhile, in Latin America Spotify’s mobile audience is 80% of all listening, according to Benedik.

All of the panelists talked about the push to offer innovative opportunities to advertisers. Ad Large Founder Cathy Csukas said there is a thriving marketplace of audio advertisers and they are looking for ways to do digital. She mentioned the importance of lifting advertisers up through programs to generate recall and response.

It was great to see an online audio conversation, talking extensively about execution of campaigns, take the stage during Advertising Week. While it would have been great to have a few more specifics on advertisers and results, the conversation was informative and the explanation of the XAPP platform was very good. A few questions from the audience indicated there were advertisers in the room who found it interesting as well. All good things..

Streaming’s Share of Ear in US, UK Are Similar

Recent info from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study puts listening to Internet radio/Music in the US, among persons 12+ at 11.6% of overall listening to all legitimate sources of audio. By way of an explanation of legitimate sources, it was interesting to hear Edison’s Larry Rosin explain, during his presentation of new pieces of this survey at RAIN Summit Indy, that when a person surveyed said they were listening to birds in their backyard, that was not counted as a source of audio. Tweets aside, listening to AM/FM broadcasts came in at 52.1% – probably a smaller share than some would expect. Satellite radio listening came in at 7.7% – a remarkably big number considering there’s one company behind all that audio content distribution.


It’s great to have this new information bookmarked so that we can watch things evolve from year to year. I’m assuming Edison plans to continue this study.


It’s also very interesting to view this data through a global lens and wonder what is going on in other parts of the world. Right around the same time we were discussing this study at RAIN Summit Indy, similar information was being presented at the conference hosted by RAIN Friends James Cridland and Matt Deegan.


Jonathan Arendt, CEO of Jazz FM in the UK, and Managing Director of research firm Hallett Arendt, presented data from a new study of UK Share of Ear called Audiomonitor. In it, we learn that listening to online audio among persons 15+ in the UK is 23%, listening to music streaming is 10%, and listening to broadcast radio is 74%. The studies categorize things differently, which no doubt accounts for some of the discrepancy, but it’s also interesting to note that broadcast radio listening has a significantly higher share of ear in the UK. There’s plenty to discuss in this revelation, including the strong part that BBC plays in broadcast radio in the UK, and the more enthusiastic and organized approach to digital broadcast there.


But what’s also interesting to note is that while broadcast radio is holding stronger share of ear in the UK, streaming music and listening to online audio are thriving as well – almost as well as here in the US.


We’ll be examining the online audio marketplace in the UK and across Europe in November at RAIN Summit Europe which will take place in London on November 4th. The speaker list for this event is fantastic – featuring Will Page, Director of Economics for Spotify, as well as Guy Phillipson, CEO of the IAB UK, and many more smart folks involved in streaming audio in Europe. It’s our third annual RAIN Summit Europe, and our first in the UK, and we’re really looking forward to it. The largest meetup of its kind all year, it’s an event you won’t want to miss. So join us! You can view our speaker list and panel topics here and register here. (Use the code Audio4cast to save a bit too). See you in London in November!


Growing Radio’s Digital Share Is The Answer

News around the US radio industry over the past week included Disney’s announcement that it will shut down operations at 23 of its 24 Radio Disney stations and concentrate on digital distribution platforms for the Radio Disney format. Partnerships with Slacker and Aha Radio – two streaming platforms, as well as Sirius XM satellite are the preferred partners mentioned in the announcement, and I suspect direct distribution will remain part of the formula as well.

As if to echo and underline that sentiment, on Friday the RAB released a 2Q Revenue Report that reflects a 3% drop in revenue driven by a 5% drop in core spot revenue. The upward momentum in digital (up 9%) and off air revenues (up 13%) mitigated some of that loss.

Of course, there has been a lot of analysis and discussion about ways that the industry can do a better job of selling its core spot inventory. None of which is a waste of time. But the reality, as acknowledged by Disney’s news, is that digital platforms are growing in terms of revenue and audience, and it’s a great place to put focus. Sure, broadcasters should look for better ways to frame and sell their core inventory. But they should also begin to aggressively grow their share of the digital pie. That opportunity is expansive, and requires a concentration of resources that only a few broadcasters have begun to dedicate.

RAIN Summits – the premiere educational and networking conferences for the online audio industry – take place several times each year in the US and Europe, and the next one just happens to be taking place on Tuesday September 9th at the Radio Show produced by NAB and RAB. The agenda is chock full of topics that will stimulate your digital innards:

  • Ad Models with Impact
  • Big Data and Streaming Audio
  • Mobile is the New Black
  • Maximizing Radio’s Hyperlocal Digital Opportunity

We’ll have a panel of legal experts discussing meaningful royalty issues, and another panel examining – with the help of a Grammy nominated artist and several programming experts – how EDM (Electronic Dance Music) became a gigantic phenomenon without any broadcast radio or record label support. And Edison’s Larry Rosin will present some brand new data from his extremely insightful Share of Ear Study.

It’s 2014 and the time is now to put more focus on your digital strategy. Registration is still open for RAIN Summit Indy. Make plans to join us. See you there!




A Smart Approach to Revenue Growth

Smart-Reach-Logo-300x66In May Entercom, one of the largest broadcasters in the US, launched a new division called SmartReach Digital. The launch came initially to six of Entercom’s markets, with more to follow. SmartReach Digital is a full-service digital agency formed by Entercom, staffed with a team of experienced digital marketers. Dedicated sales reps will drive business in each Entercom market.

The idea is new and innovative to radio, but one that has taken hold with newspapers, tv, and other locally driven media outlets. Local market knowledge and resources are valuable and can be used to sell more than one media -that’s the thinking behind this strategy. With relationships with local businesses already established, sellers become trained marketing consultants, prepared to work with those SMBs to develop a digital strategy that grows business and drives revenue. Website design, search engine optimization, email marketing, mobile platforms, social media, text marketing, online reputation management, display advertising, and of course, Internet radio advertising – these are all marketing options that might be recommended. The online platforms that sell these products offer white labeled versions that enable an agent like Entercom’s SmartReach Digital to brand and execute the campaigns, perform billing, and manage the relationships directly with their local customers.

Want to know more? We’ll be examining this new and innovative approach to growing revenue and optimizing local direct sales teams at RAIN Summit Indy on Tuesday September 9th, during the NAB/RAB Radio Show week. Christine Merritt, Google’s Head of SMB partnerships and channel sales, North America, and George Leith, VP Sales, Vendasta, are two speakers who will join a panel discussion on options for turning local sales teams into digital marketing consultants. It’s a deep and lucrative opportunity, and one you’ll want to take note of.

Register for RAIN Summit Indy now and get reduced rates on hotels as well. Click here for more info. See you in Indianapolis!


Potluck Dinners, Knees and Targeted Ads

old-casserole-779396-mAt a recent neighborhood potluck someone asked me about my business. As usual, once I started talking about online audio, everyone at the table identified with Pandora. After a discussion of the types of stations they like to listen to on Pandora, one person mentioned the problem they’ve been having of hearing the same two ads over and over whenever they listen.

Which is precisely the experience my husband and I had on a weekend trip to Cape Cod recently, listening to Pandora while driving the two hours each way. Lots of music variety, but no such luck with the ads, which popped up every few songs. Unfortunately for us, our targetable zip code and demographic earned us two disheartening commercials – one for knee replacement at a local hospital, and one for a senior living facility. Yeesh, we’re old – parents of a college age kid – but we still work – and walk!

But this is the conundrum that Pandora is faced with. In selling targeted ad campaigns to local businesses, they then become tasked with delivering them, and since we live in a small market (New London, Connecticut), they probably don’t have a whole lot of campaigns to send us.

From my experience, a few thoughts – first, those two campaigns were likely oversold for this market, and delivering them is requiring repeating the same ad over and over to a limited number of people. Second, there is no frequency capping going on with that campaign, and there ought to be. It’s not good for the advertiser when I hear their ad 6 or 8 times in a 2 hour period.

It’s also not good for the listener – but there in lies a question that is worth asking: is Pandora hoping that I’ll give in and upgrade to a commercial free Pandora One subscription? “It’s only $3.99 a month” said one of the folks at the potluck dinner, who thought it was well worth it. Actually, new subscribers now pay $4.99 a month.

One thing is for sure – with expansion into local markets, Pandora has some issues to contend with. Listeners are noticing the ads, and they’re talking about them. Targeted ads can be good for the advertiser, but they can also create repetition that is not valuable to the advertiser or the listener. Unless you’re in the market for a new knee…



The Best Internet Radio Station

Bragging rights for best online station are up for grabs now, as RAIN prepares to award the Fifth Annual RAIN Internet Radio Awards. Presented by RAIN News, this self-nominated awards competition is open to all streaming stations – and it’s free to enter. Winners will be announced at RAIN Summit Indy on Tuesday September 9th. 

Five years ago, Kurt Hanson and I started these awards as a way to bring the industry together to celebrate excellence. We started with three categories, then expanded to four, and this year we added a separate category for International streaming platforms, bringing the categories to five:

  • Best Overall Online Radio Service
  • Best Streaming Broadcast Station
  • Best Overall Digital Strategy
  • Best Single-Stream Webcaster
  • International Excellence in Audio

You can review the criteria for each category here, and enter the competition as well.

This is a competition for streaming audio services of all shapes and sizes, designed to include everyone, and celebrate excellence in our industry. If you haven’t submitted your service for consideration yet, please do it before the awards close on July 20th. Past award winners have included many great stations and platforms like Pandora and iHeartRadio, WEEI and ESPNRadio, Hard Rock Radio and The

To submit your service right now, click here and complete the very simple entry form. You can’t win if you don’t enter, so do it today!

Know someone who should enter? Forward this email to them and encourage them to do it today!


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