There’s been a lot of talk lately about car dashboards, and connectivity, and the threat that new technologies like streaming may pose for AM/FM, which currently owns all of that real estate. For those of you who read this blog, or attend RAIN Summits, it’s not news that connectivity in cars is impacting dashboards, with more listening options available. Nearly all the car manufacturers have announced partnerships with streaming platforms. Just yesterday Volvo released news that its new connected dashboard, with a 7 inch touch screen and voice activation, will feature TuneIn and Spotify.
The dashboard of the future won’t eliminate AM/FM, instead it will offer more options. Connected, interactive options that enable listeners to choose stations from a mix of delivery platforms. Streaming options alongside HD options alongside AM/FM options, alongside – dare I say it – maybe even satellite options. All-in-one dashboard players.
No one (okay, maybe someone) said, or thinks, that AM/FM will be eliminated from car dashboards. The NAB would never let that happen. More than 90% of the population listen weekly. (Although, that number may drop as other options become available).
After that article appeared came letters and statements from car manufacturers, eager to assure broadcasters that they are not eliminating AM/FM from cars. General Motors Chief Infotainment Officer Phil Abram told Radio Ink that:
“While we are excited about the possibilities of Internet radio services and other emerging services, we understand that AM/FM radio is still a significant source of news and entertainment. In fact, it is an expected feature. We can’t speak for other automakers, but to be clear, GM has no near term plans to eliminate AM and FM from GM vehicles. We are committed to providing consumers innovative services that dramatically enhance the driving and riding experience. We expect AM/FM radio to be one of the choices consumers have in our vehicles.”
There, now doesn’t that make you feel better?..
Dial Global this week announced a partnership with SoundHound that will offer advertisers more interactivity with broadcast radio listeners. SoundHound is a music app that listeners can download to their mobile devices and use to identify songs. Now, advertisers can offer listeners access to exclusive offers and branded audio, video, and Web content delivered on their mobile device through SoundHound.
With this new technology, advertisers will have the ability to provide additional information to consumers via a “second screen” portable device – enhancing the interactivity of their radio campaigns. Reportedly, the consumer does not have to interact with a commercial immediately in order to tap into the “second screen” offering because the information will remain available for a period of time.
As lifestyle shifts toward mobile continue, technology that enables radio campaigns to benefit are essential. eMarketer forecasts the number of mobile shoppers in the US will increase by 24% in 2013 to 118 million consumers and represent 62% of digital shoppers. Over the next four years, the overlap between mobile and digital shoppers will steadily increase as the number of mobile shoppers grows to 174 million in 2016, 80% of all online shoppers.
Mobile interactivity both increases the impact of a campaign as well as the ability to quantify effectiveness. “Until now, radio has struggled to keep pace with the kind of measurable engagement offered by newer digital marketing platforms. Together with SoundHound, we have created a marketing solution that delivers trackable engagement between listeners and brands.” said Ken Williams, President of Dial Global.
Digital revenues generated by US radio broadcasters shot up 11% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the previous year, and pushed the full year over year increase to an impressive 8%. Spot dollars increased a mere 1%, further emphasizing the brightness of the digital horizon for radio.
“The continues stellar showing of the Digital sector…underscores the fact that th eRadio industry is finding additional ways to monetize these streams and that advertisers are taking advantage of new platforms to reach our listeners,” said RAB President and CEO Erica Farber. The digital revenues category represents revenues generated by websites, Internet/web streaming and HD Radio including HD2 and HD3 stations.
As the overall contribution that digital revenues makes to radio’s revenue edges closer to 5%, Internet advertising revenues are hitting record highs. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that Q3 of 2012 was up 18% over a year earlier, with Q4 numbers yet to be released. With spot radio dollars stuck in barely positive territory, digital solutions that enable broadcasters to unlock a portion of that pie become an important piece of the radio economy.
RAB president and CEO Erica Farber will deliver a keynote speech at RAIN Summit West on April 7th, offering her perspectives on radio’s digital initiatives and prospects for the future. Other panels will explore online options to capture more revenue as well. For more information and to register, click here. (Early bird registration ends next week.)
The big audio news out of CES yesterday wasn’t about streaming as Sprint announced that it will begin enabling FM chips on select Android and Windows smartphones during the next three years. This makes them the first US wireless carrier to make a deal with broadcasters to deliver FM radio on some of their phones. Broadcasts will be delivered through the NextRadio tuner, a receiver application for FM and HD smartphones developed by Emmis.
NextRadio accesses broadcasts of local FM stations and uses the phones data channel to integrate interactive elements from song and artists id, social tools to advertising info and messaging, creating a hybrid radio experience that is much more similar to an online radio experience – because it is partially online.
Fared Adib, senior vice president, product development and operations at Sprint, stated, “We look forward to bringing Sprint customers another entertainment choice through NextRadio. This new, easy-to-use service adds another dimension to the versatility of our wide array of smartphones and will deliver a new avenue for thousands of local radio stations across the country to reach our customers.”
With smartphones being used by more than 50% of consumers in the US and growing, this is big news for radio broadcasters. The NextRadio tuner, which provides an enhanced listening experience, has no doubt been a critical part of the strategy to get Sprint on board. Apparently, according to Inside Radio, the deal also includes a commercial spot bank for Sprint. There’s still work to be done – Apple, At&t and Verizon are not involved in this deal, but it’s a good day for FM radio, that should have a positive impact on HD as well. I’m looking forward to seeing that data on who listens.
Sprint’s announcement came out of CES yesterday. It’s interesting to note that broadcasters and NAB have been at odds with the Consumer Electronics Association, who produces CES, because CEA opposed broadcaster attempts to mandate FM chips in mobile devices.
An article in the New York Post last week notes that Taylor Swift’s new album Red is not available for on-demand listening on streaming services like Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody. This is a strategy that other artists have used as well – Adele and Coldplay both held off making their new albums available on similar services. While it’s a leap to say that the strategy was the reason that the album had the best sales in its first weeks of any non-discounted album in the last decade, it’s reasonable to conclude that it didn’t hurt.
Streaming is growing in popularity and record sales are dropping. Some artists and their companies are seeing a relationship between the two and concluding that making their new releases available on these services is bad for song sales. Unfortunately, the amounts that they get paid by the services when listeners listen to their music doesn’t compare.
Ironically, Swift didn’t see fit to hold her album back from airplay on broadcast radio. A deal earlier this year means that she’s actually getting compensated to some degree by some big broadcast companies including Clear Channel when her songs play on the radio. While that probably doesn’t amount to much, it’s forging a new relationship between recording artists and radio.
It’s important to note that it’s the on-demand services that are getting shunned by Swift and others – Pandora has the album, as does iHeartRadio and other services that don’t enable listener to build playlists and request music by song, artist, album, etc.. There’s a growing perception that those services are being used as music collections and replacing song sales.
It may well be that artists, especially the big names, will continue to hold back their albums from services like Spotify for a while as part of their launch strategies. Or the services may find a way to be more relevant to those artists in their early song sales days, by providing data, promotion, sales support, in an effort to get back together again…
In the states where the races for the presidential election were the closest, radio advertising made the difference. According to an article in Politico last week, both candidates used radio to target specific segments of the population, with Obama spending quite a bit more than Romney. The article, which is also very nicely summarized by Fred Jacobs in his blog, notes that the campaigns saw radio as a way to reach voters who were not extremely political and might not be tuning into polls on a daily basis. As well, radio ads were a strategy for reaching busy younger adult women who spend lots of time in the car tuning in.
A nifty infographic that TuneIn, the Internet radio portal, sent me shows that voters likely to favor Obama were indeed listening to radio. Radio was a key strategy for the campaigns in swing states, with the Obama campaign airing a series of tailored radio ads for eight key states, targeting Paul Ryan, including specific ads relevant for Virginia, Colorado, Florida and Nevada starting in August, and Romney using swing-state radio ads to knock President Obama over his ” bayonets and horses” quip during the final presidential debate.
TuneIn looked specifically at how many listeners were tuning into political talk programming during the month of October and found more listening to liberal (so-called) democratic programming. Indeed, their data, which they sent me on Monday, largely predicted the outcome in most of the key swing states…
Triton Digital and Alan Burns and Associates recently released a new study Radio Tomorrow which focuses on listener attitudes and behavior with a focus on future prospects for the medium. It’s a dense study with a lot of interesting questions in it. For example,
25% of those asked stream music on a smartphone daily from AM/FM, Pandora and other sources, and the number climbs to almost 40% weekly. Pandora alone claims 11% daily and 15% weekly in terms of people using it, per the study.
Some of the news in the study is predictable: young people listen to radio less, want more control of their stations.
Some of it is less so – for example, the study found that 44% of listeners would be more likely to buy a phone if it had an FM chip in it. And of the nearly 20% who have internet access in their cars, many still listen to AM/FM (70%).
When asked if there is a medium that feels like a friend, 50% named RADIO. And they find radio ads more trustworthy and less annoying.
If you haven’t taken a look at this study you should. There’s meaningful takeaways for anyone programming a station, online or not…
New York Public Radio is setting the standard for excellent online content creation these days with a slew of interesting, high quality new programs. Some, such as Radiolab, rank in the top ten most downloaded podcasts on iTunes, while others offer a remarkable host of guests and really great content that other broadcasters would do well to take a look at.
While there’s often debate about the quality of broadcasters’ online content offerings, such is not the case at WNYC.org. Each week, Alec Baldwin hosts Here’s The Thing, a weekly talk show in which Baldwin interviews well known and interesting people such as Billy Joel, George Will, David Letterman, Peter Frampton, Herb Alpert, Kathleen Turner – the list is interesting and impressive, as is the show.
WNYC also produces and airs Radiolab – the podcast of that program ranks third in the iTunes list of most downloaded podcasts. The show is so popular they even charge $2.99 for their mobile app. All of the programming that WNYC creates also becomes part of the NPR portfolio of content, along with content created by other stations such as All Things Considered, This American Life and Morning Edition.
It’s not news that NPR does an excellent job offering excellent news and talk programming to its audience. It’s an impressive online offering that would challenge anyone’s idea that podcasting is dead. As NPR could tell you, it’s alive and well on their platform…
This week Apple was awarded a patent that appears to be a shot across the bow to streaming broadcasters. The patent enables switching from broadcastor streamed content to media stored on a device. By using information available from RDS data, broadcast listings or published programming schedules, the device would determine in advance what programming might not be of interest to the user and then switch to songs or podcasts stored on the device or streamed from a cloud based library. The system reportedly uses the device owner’s content consumption habits, as well as “like” and”dislike” interactive features to determine preferences.
Apple Insider presents this description from published patent information:
“For example, a user may not like a particular song broadcast by a radio station, or may not like a particular segment of a talk radio station (e.g., the user does not like the topic or guest of the segment). As another example, a user may not be interested in content originally generated by sources other than the media source (e.g., advertisement content). Because the user has no control over the media broadcast, the user can typically only tune to a different media broadcast, or listen to or consume the broadcast content that is not of interest.”
There are a couple of remarkable things about this, not the least of which is that Apple is certainly a formidable competitor. The fact that they have developed this new technology which focuses extensively on replacing radio content is noteworthy. Implications could be significant for broadcasters and others that offer single stream programming, not to mention ad-insertion companies and advertisers. In fact, there could be, would be significant impact for on-demand services as well, since it would make an individual’s music library more useful and relevant.
And the devil is in the details, which might be comforting if the patent holder were any other than Apple…
Tim Castelli, President of National Sales, Marketing & Partnerships for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s RAIN Summit Dallas, Tuesday, September 18th at the Anatole Hilton in Dallas. Castelli joined Clear Channel in March from AOL as their digital chief. His resume also includes Tech Industry Director for Google and Publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine.
Clear Channel’s role as a leader in the development of radio’s digital future is significant and Castelli’s keynote should be an insightful perspective from one of the company’s key players.
RAIN Summit Dallas will be held on the day immediately preceding The Radio Show produced by RAB and NAB. A “partner event” of The Radio Show, RAIN Summit Dallas is the premiere educational and networking event for Internet radio, focusing on the intersection of radio and the Internet. RAIN Summits are geared to both broadcasters on the Web (like Clear Channel Radio and CBS Radio), and Internet-only webcasters (like Pandora, Slacker, and AccuRadio).
As another highlight of the event, “RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter” Publisher Kurt Hanson will present his “State of the Industry” address on the future of radio in this age of new media. Hosted by Hanson, the Summit will feature a variety of other speakers and panelists, offering insights on the business, programming and technology aspects of online radio, including topics such as “Monetizing Mobile” and “Social Radio.”
RAIN Summits are a great way to learn and network in the Internet radio space. The speaker list for September is growing and already includes execs from NPR, CBS Local, Myxer, Cox Media Group, TuneIn and many others. For more info, click here. Hope to see you there!
By way of disclosure, I am the President of RAIN Summits.