Category Archives: Internet radio

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 Nextrad.io 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!

 

Membership Has Its Benefits

npr hatA few weeks ago I was driving in my car listening to NPR during a pledge drive. As I listened to the announcer hawk mugs and even special solar/crank powered radios in exchange for signing up for a monthly “pledge” and heard him referring to donors as members, I realized that public radio is actually selling subscriptions, but calling it something else.

As we know, NPR is an audio service supported by its members (as well as some other revenue sources). In 2011, which was the most recent year I could find info for – NPR received an average weekly donation of just under ten bucks per listener per week. (That’s the total $ amount of pledges divided by listeners and weeks.)

While Pandora One and Spotify struggle to get users to pay less than $10 a month for their service, NPR manages just fine, netting 4 times that per listener.

Why is NPR is so successful at getting listeners to pay for programming? For one thing, they don’t call them subscription fees. Instead, they call them pledges – a far more honorable term, and they make every listener who donates a member, and send them a hat or a mug. It’s a clever marketing approach!

What else are they doing that online audio subscription services can do as well? Well, for one, they hold annoying on-air pledge drives, where they stop the programming, not for a few short commercials, but for highly intrusive on-air begging by personalities. It’s really obnoxious, and it works. Listeners respond.

Other tactics that NPR uses to extract donations – err, I mean pledges – from its listeners include bribery (as in the mug, hat, or solar powered radio mentioned above), flattery (our listeners like you are so smart), making listeners feel guilty, and – this is the best one – threatening to continue the on-air fundraising tirade unless everyone calls in with pledges right away.

So what can subscription services learn from NPR? I think the membership approach is a good one – remember the old American Express campaign “Membership has its privileges?” Creating a strong brand that people want to associate themselves with, and then selling that association – that seems to be a formula that works for public radio and a strategy subscription services may want to go to school on…

 

 

Advantage Amazon

Yesterday Amazon announced a new feature that allows Twitter users to add something to their Amazon shopping cart by replying to a tweet with the hashtag #amazoncart. After connecting their Twitter and Amazon accounts, they can reply to a tweet for a product that has an amazon link and the product will be placed into their shopping cart for purchase. Later, they can visit their shopping cart and complete the sale.

“Add it now, buy it later” is the slogan used in the promo video by Amazon.

This is a pretty innovative strategy on the part of Amazon. Think about it — it encourages everyone who is selling anything to create a link for that product in Amazon and tweet about it. What’s more, if you actually take a little more sophisticated approach, you create your own little Amazon store, tweet the links to products in there, and enjoy some revenue sharing on the deal.

Amazon has more than 200 million registered users, all with credit cards associated with them. They have one of the easiest shopping cart platforms, with their proprietary 1-click purchasing. And they sell just about everything.

With their new “add it now, buy it later” promotion, consumers can easily react to a product they see tweeted, place it in their shopping cart, and purchase immediately or later. Either way, Amazon has placed itself in the middle of the transaction, making it easier for both the buyer and seller.

There are simply tons of ways that this can be used to make advertising more effective. For example, stations with a strong Twitter following can put their Twitter feeds to work. With advertiser permission, stations can tweet product links and run a coordinated ad campaign on their station and Twitter, extending the reach and impact of the ad campaign – and the bond with the advertiser. (Of course, this is for brand and product campaigns, not brick and mortar campaigns.)

Exciting possibilities exist with both iTunes and Amazon, who have so many registered users’ credit cards and make it so easy to buy. Now Amazon has figured out a great way to make it easy and attractive for everyone to want to use their platform to conduct business, and to encourage anyone with a Twitter following to promote Amazon links.

Winamp’s Shut Down Was Inevitable

winampThe announcement that Winamp would shut down before the end of the year didn’t surprise me given that AOL had already abandoned its online radio platform, but it did make me pause. There have been several times this year that I have stopped and thought that surely this event is one of the signals that online audio has left the “niche” stage of its development and entered the reality of being a full blown mass appeal marketplace. One that a product like Winamp, free downloadable software that began as a tool to enable people to play all those songs they downloaded from Napster, couldn’t survive in.

In fact, I’ve wondered a lot over the years, why AOL kept updating it at all – given that the business model – getting users to pay for an improved upgrade to the player – was so weak. In fact, AOL didn’t just continue to update and distribute Winamp when it purchased Nullsoft in 1999 for $400 million, it also kept Shoutcast running all this time as well. And that was an even stranger conundrum, given that many of the biggest stations on Shoutcast were getting free bandwidth (at least a few years back they were). The deal was, at least back in the early 2000s, that you couldn’t run any ads if you wanted the free bandwidth. I never could figure out why that was. Didn’t that hurt AOL’s own Internet radio platform?

In any event, although Winamp and Shoutcast operated independently at AOL for lots of years, it seems that someone has finally noticed the lack of a business model in that department. Winamp will shut down later this month, although there is word that Microsoft may purchase the intellectual property. The end of an era that also signifies the arrival of a new one – the mature online audio marketplace, where you have to have a business model to compete…

 

Pandora’s Proprietary Audience Segments

pandora

With more than 200 million registered users, Pandora’s collection of user data is substantial. Now they are beginning to use that data to create marketable audience segments that advertisers can use to target their campaigns.

The first of these “proprietary audience segments” created by Pandora are Hispanic and Spanish speaking users of the service. To create these segments, Pandora cross referenced their registered users with zip codes that have a high population of Hispanic and Spanish speaking listeners, using publicly available census data. It’s still inference based targeting, meaning that the buyer has to agree to make assumptions about the consumer based on where they live, but it’s an improvement over cookie-based technology, which makes inference based assumptions as well – usually assuming that someone visiting a certain site matches a certain set of established criteria.

Critics will argue that users often give false registration data as well, and that is certainly a factor, but probably not a significant deterrent for buyers who are looking for any improved ways of reaching more of the people they want to reach, fewer of those they don’t.

Studies have shown that listeners are quite tolerant of targeted ads online, especially when they are targeted to offer products that the listener might find useful.

In fact, Pandora’s capable of slicing up their audience by market, zip code, age or gender, or the kind of music they listen to, and has been doing that for a long time. These new customer segments are available in media buying software that makes it very simple for agencies to identify, price and purchase. It’s a smart way to market their large audience to advertisers and showcase their targeting capabilities. This video features Heidi Browning, Pandora SVP of strategic solutions, discussing the streaming service’s targeting capabilities.

 

Streaming Services Are A Dime A Dozen

The big boys have arrived. Last week brought the news that YouTube’s subscription based streaming music service will launch before the end of the year, adding another massive player to the standing room only arena of streaming audio platforms. According to Billboard, there will be a free tier to the service as well, although it’s hard to imagine exactly how that will be delineated significantly from YouTube’s current free and on-demand offering of just about any music video. The subscription tier will add the ability to play full albums and cache music for offline listening, and probably playlist building as well.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

YouTube has been the dominant on-demand streaming music platform in the land for a long time, although many folks didn’t think of them that way. The powers to be at Google have likely decided that the size of ad revenues and level of interest from advertisers in the streaming audio space have gotten big enough that it’s time to get serious about branding their service as a player.

The launch of iTunes Radio probably had something to do with the imminent rebranding of YouTube as well. Last week, Apple announced that their months old streaming service had 20 million users and 11 million uniques in 5 weeks. Of course, this is another service that’s self-reporting their own numbers, which to date are unchecked by third party measurement. But who expected less from an Apple launch that was well timed to sync with an OS upgrade that put the service front and center on everyone’s iPhones and iPads? The real data comes a little later when we start to see and hear metrics coming from other sources on the traction of iTunes Radio with consumers.

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for the much discussed Beats streaming service to launch, and keeping an eye on Microsoft’s Xbox Music, not to mention Pandora, Spotify and other significant players. One thing is for sure – the consumer has plenty of choices at this point. With minor distinctions between each one, branding has become the key factor in the streaming music game…

Songza’s Whistling Its Own Tune

Amid all the iTunes Radio hype in September came an announcement from Songza that they have secured $4.7 million in funding. Among the investors was Amazon.com, which bought Amie Street, founded by Songza founder Elias Roman, in 2010.

songzaSongza’s not the biggest streaming service, but they’ve been quietly innovative in the past few years, catching my attention a few times. Eric Davich, the other co-founder of Songza, recently joined the Streaming Music Trends panel at RAIN Summit Orlando and turned out to be a great addition, smart and spunky, with plenty of opinions.

Songza will use the new funding to develop its native advertising solution. “With this funding, we’re scaling our native advertising solution to make brand-to-customer interactions more engaging for customers and more successful for brands,” said Elias Roman, co-founder and CEO of Songza.

Songza’s approach to streaming music is to offer music based not on genre or artist, but on activity or mood instead. Going for a run, getting ready for a date, having a party, Songza’s got options for all of those and a lot more. The plan is to develop high impact 7 second ads that work well for both listeners and advertisers within the context of the programming.

Recent info says that Songza has 4.8 million active users. They have 24 million songs in their database, as well as a slick interface and a unique approach. And they’re concentrating on monetizing their audience in a way that benefits advertisers and listeners. All that makes Songza one to keep an eye on. For more, check out an interview that co-founder Elias Roman did on CNBC not too long ago..

Online Listeners Like Classic Rock at Work

Classic Rock tops the list of most popular genres in a survey of people who listen to online radio at work. Followed closely by Rock and Country music, Classic Rock songs are the ones that more than 1000 respondents said they listen to online and at work. The new info is part of an at work study done by Radionomy and Edison Research and released today. Based in Brussels, Belgium and San Francisco, Radionomy is one of the largest user-generated radio station platforms for producers, listeners and broadcasters around the world. This new study was designed to encourage producers of Internet radio stations on their platform by providing them with more information on what users want to hear.

The study finds that most people listen to Internet radio to hear songs they know – 86% tune in for that reason. But they also like to discover new music, as 72% pick that as a reason to listen as well. Fewer folks said they tuned in to hear DJs and local news online. More than half listen to 2 or 3 Internet radio stations a week, and more than three-quarters listen in other places outside of work as well.

Radionomy Edison Research Study

“The desire on the part of listeners to simultaneously hear their favorite music and also be exposed to songs that they haven’t heard before but still appeal to their tastes creates an interesting opportunity for producers,” said Radionomy’s Thierry Ascarez. “We believe that those who can achieve a balance of giving people what they already want, and also new things that will appeal to them based on their established tastes, will more meaningfully connect with their audiences.”

You’ll be able to hear more about this survey at the Radio Show in Orlando next week. And you’ll be able to get a lot of very useful information about online radio and digital audio at RAIN Summit Orlando on Tuesday September 17th at the start of the show. For more info on RAIN Summit Orlando, or to register, click here. To save a few bucks use the promo code Audio4cast (you have to register before you get there to get the discount). Hope to see you there!

Americans Are Driving Less, Listening Less

Driving is down in the US, according to an AP article that I read in my local paper over the weekend, causing folks that study that kind of behavior to conclude that our love affair with cars here in the US is coming to an end. The average number of miles drivers individually rack up peaked in July 2004 at just over 900 per month. Since then it’s been dropping, off 9% by last year at 820, and down again for the first half of this year.

Apparently, many factors are contributing to this trend, including the high cost of buying a car, the high price of gas, and the increased ability to purchase things online and even socialize online. Job losses due to the recent recession are a factor as well.Traffic jam

Which leaves me thinking about the impact that decreased driving is having on radio. Is the actual decline in driving one of the factors in radio’s declining AQH? The fact is that for the past decade, broadcast radio’s time cume has remained fairly steady at around 92% of the 12+ population, while it’s AQH keeps dropping. Some of this is due to younger generations preferring to listen on other platforms, like streaming.

But I’ve never heard anyone mention that the drop in time spent listening to AM/FM radio is tied to an overall drop in time spent driving in the car. And not only that, but this trend may be more closely tied to younger generations choosing other listening platforms over broadcast radio as well. Twenty years ago, two thirds of 18 year olds had their license. Today fewer than half of teenagers get their license in the first year they are eligible. That’s got to be having an impact on their time spent with radio.

Radio’s dominance over drive time has long been its mainstay. The waning of the time that folks spend in the cars is surely having a significant impact on the amount of time they are spending listening to their favorite drive time media…

How does this trend impact the future of radio and streaming? Don’t miss a great panel discussion on the topic at RAIN Summit Orlando featuring execs from Pandora, Ford, Pioneer Electronics, Slacker and others. You can see the full agenda and register here. Use the code Audio4cast to save a few bucks. See you there!

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