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.)
Triton Digital is getting ready to launch an online ad exchange for audio ads that will be the first platform to enable automated buying and selling of online audio impressions. a2x is the first audio advertising exchange that enables advertisers to buy targeted online and mobile audio inventory in real-time. The solution provides a system for managing, buying and selling third party advertising campaigns. In addition, a2x facilitates the execution of digital advertising trades between third parties, providing an information database featuring lists of advertising bid and offer values.
To offer targetability, the a2x solution integrates consumer data from partner eXelate which provides data and insight on online purchase intent, household demographics and behavioral propensities that enable digital advertisers to make optimal marketing decisions.
Following this announcement came one from media buying division of worldwide ad agency behemoth WPP, which includes GroupM, that they would be partnering with Triton’s a2x platform to offer a real time audio ad buying technology to ad partners. According to coverage of this announcement in AdWeek, Triton Digital has access to digital audio inventory from publishers like Pandora, Cox Communications, NPR, and Slacker Radio, though not all publishers are yet on board for RTB (real time buying) advertising.”
While banner ad exchanges have been around for a long time, both the launch of an automated real time buying solution for streaming audio ads, and the partnering with a major worldwide ad agency buying group are major announcements that hold the promise of having a significant impact on the online audio marketplace. It will streamline cross platform integration of streaming audio ads which in turn will stimulate spending.
This morning’s Inside Radio reports that Hubbard owned WTOP will no longer insert ads in its streams, opting instead to simulcast 100% of its broadcast programming online. This is a decision made earlier this year by small market broadcasting group Saga Communications, who at the time blamed imperfect ad insertion technology for its decision.
The biggest reason that a broadcast company would opt to simulcast 100% of its programming rather than inserting different ads into its stream would be that Arbitron will only measure the online audience and the on-air audience as one if the station simulcasts the exact same thing on the stream as it broadcasts. There’s nothing wrong with Arbitron’s thinking in this regard – it would be flawed for them to represent the two audiences (streamed and broadcast) as one if the programming were not completely identical. That would be misleading to advertisers who might look at the combined audience number and conclude that their commercials achieved that reach when they had not.
WTOP is up front about the reason for its move. Inside Radio quotes SVP/GM Joel Oxley : “Since WTOP is now a simulcast, those listeners can now be added to our Arbitron ratings,” he says. “For WTOP even a slight move up in ratings can mean a significant rise in revenue.” For the top billing radio station in the country, that can make a big difference.
This move by WTOP signals a growing interest by broadcasters in blending their audiences into one to create ratings uniformity. It’s a clear decision to sell the audience as one, rather than two separate audiences. It makes sense in some ways, but there are problems as well. Ads created for over the air listeners often have a call to action like “Call this number” while ads that are streamed should have an online call to action. As well, streaming ads have more targeting and tracking capabilities than broadcast ads do. But times are tough and revenues are down. Broadcasters, like everyone else, are forced to take a hard look at their options and in a case like this prefer the one that promises a more immediate uptick for revenue.
There’s an article on DMN from about a week ago about a songwriter Ellen Shipley. She’s complaining about the amount of royalties she receives as co-writer of a song that has been played 3 million times on Pandora recently. The problem is, she’s mad at Pandora, when her gripe is really with SoundExchange and the record companies. They’re the ones that decide what happens to the performance royalties that get paid by Pandora, and how they get parsed out to performers versus songwriters and co-songwriters.
I’ll bet someone from her record company called her right up to explain that to her..
There’s been a line of artists complaining recently about the paltry amounts of money they are receiving from Pandora and other streaming services, prompted by the proposed Internet Radio Fairness Act. I’ve written about that, and would like to leave that debate to one side for the moment and talk more about the responsibility that the musician has to become their own business, and take responsibility for their own income, especially if they are unhappy with the size of the checks that are arriving in the mail.
I started thinking about this after I read an article on NPR’s blog about some musicians that are promoting themselves and getting paid for their performances on Kickstarter and similar platforms. Singer and performer Amanda Palmer was one of the first to use Kickstarter and raised over a million dollars for her new album. Other bands, like A House For Lions, produced a video, as well as t-shirts and other promotional items that they sell online through Ignition Deck. It’s a lot of work, but they consider it part of their business.
Artists like Amanda Palmer and A House For Lions aren’t just sitting around waiting for their check to arrive in the mail, and then complaining about it. They are managing their businesses which happen to be music and asking their audiences to pay for their product which happens to be songs. Here’s the video that A House For Lions made to promote their album and ask their fans to donate:
In an interesting approach to growing their audience, Rdio has launched a new “Artist Program” which rewards recording artists for bringing new listeners to the service. From their blog: “We’re committed to supporting the artist community and the music industry as a whole. That’s why today we’re launching the Rdio Artist Program — the first program of its kind, offering an innovative new model for artists to directly earn money from streaming music.”
The Rdio Artist Program encourages artists to create their own pages by uploading photos and connecting Twitter accounts. They can then share their music (if they upload their own content, they also agree to grant Rdio a royalty free use of that content.) Artists get ten bucks for each listener that signs up for a paid subscription (and maintains it for a certain period of time). Subscriptions cost ten bucks a month if you want access on your mobile device.
Kudos to Rdio for taking a new approach to gaining listeners that tries to engage them through the artists that they are passionate about. They report thatScissor Sisters, Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg), Chromeo, A-Trak and Brendan Benson — already fans of Rdio — are among the first artists to join the program.
For that matter, why limit this kind of thing to recording artists? Why not let anyone who is passionate about music create their own page, tweet about it, and make ten bucks when their friends sign up?
It’s high season for political advertising, and Pandora is a new favorite for lots of candidates, according to US News. It turns out that Pandora’s highly targetable advertising model, which allows advertisers to micro-target by zipcode, not to mention age, gender, and even musical tastes, is very appealing to the folks that decide where all the money behind political campaigns will go this season.
“On Pandora we know exactly who our audience is, so if you’re trying to reach moms, the D.C. area, or young people in Ohio, we can do that,” says Francisca Fanucchi, a spokeswoman for Pandora. When users sign up for Pandora, they give their ZIP code, gender, date of birth, and E-mail address, all of which are used for targeting purposes, Fanucchi says. Political research firms also buy lots of consumer behavior data to refine their targeted ads.
It turns out that your musical preferences also say a lot about your political views. Recently, music data firm The Echo Nest noticed some distinct profiles among listeners of certain types of music. Turns out Kenny Chesney or George Strait fans are reliably Republican while, Rihanna, Jay Z, Madonna and Lady Gaga fans are Democrats. Fans of The Beatles, Stones and Johnny Cash are hardest to predict.
Politicians advertising on Pandora can also use their new email sign-up feature. That asks the listener to let Pandora provide his email address to the politician so they can contact them directly.
All of this is not foolproof however – on a recent longish drive with my husband we listened to Pandora on my husbands phone, and heard repeated ads for Linda McMahon, the GOP candidate running for Senate in Connecticut. Problem is, he’s a pretty liberal democrat who just happens to like Pink Floyd…
An excellent discussion of best practices for broadcasters to stream their programming has arisen out of Saga’s announcement that they would stop inserting different commercials online and instead stream entire simulcasts of their over the air stations. The main reason they offered for doing that was that ad insertion technology does not sound good on the air – sound levels vary, stop set timing is often poor, and the spots that are inserted are often filler content like psa’s.
And all of that is true – stations that simply try to plug in ad insertion technology and let a series of psa’s and commercials cover their over the air stopsets do sound pretty bad. Unfortunately for small stations without budgets and staff to dedicate to the production of a good sounding online station, it takes more effort than that to produce a good sounding station.
But there is a big risk with simulcasting an over the air signal online, one which could really start to affect the perceived value of the product. I’m talking a
bout the ads. You know, those over the air ads that encourage the listener to call right now, or drive right in. Those ads are misfits on an online station. Do you think anyone that is listening to a station online is going to call an advertiser? Of course not. Online listeners are online and every commercial should have an online call to action. Ignoring that and using over the air commercials is simply ignoring the technology.
Radio’s big opportunity in online radio lies specifically in its ability to target and track ads. To compete with other media that have similar abilities. Sure, it’s not plug and play — every advertiser needs an ad with an online call to action and an on screen clickable display banner or link. Even better — support those ads with an advertiser directory on your website where listeners can get more information, print coupons, register for offers. Integrate your online offerings to increase the benefits to your advertisers.
A decision to simulcast your over the air programming is as good as a decision to stop streaming if you ask me. In fact, I might even say that if that’s your approach you might as well shut it off. No reason you can’t change your mind down the road..
After announcing that they were going to stop streaming their broadcast content in smaller markets earlier this summer, Saga Communications is now announcing that they will move to complete simulcasts of their over the air broadcasts – including commercials – on the streams of all their stations. In extensive coverage of this story this morning in Inside Radio, Saga EVP Warren Lada says that the size of the streaming audiences of his stations is too small to be sold separately.
“I was uncomfortable with it because I don’t believe we are doing a service to our advertisers when we tell them that they’re going to get meaningful results from a relatively miniscule audience on a station’s internet stream — that’s disingenuous and not good for the industry,” Lada says. “It’s time for the industry to man up and recognize that primarily most of our audience is on-air and we should just include the stream with it — it’s just part of what we do.”
Other folks disagree — Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino, Targetspot CEO Eyal Goldwerger and Katz360 President Brian Benedik pointed to the higher value of trackable, targeted impressions as good reasons not to abandon efforts to sell digital ads.
Another factor that likely contributed to Saga’s decision is Arbitron’s stance on measuring a station’s streaming stations – unless they are 100% simulcast of the broadcast they cannot be merged.
Saga has long been a skeptic of streaming, finding it difficult to justify the expense and measure the value of it. Like many small market broadcasters, they don’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to growing the online future of radio without seeing any revenue benefits. And what’s to stop them from reversing this position somewhere down the line? The reality is that simulcasts with inserted online ads, as Lada points out, don’t make for great listening. And building expanded online offerings that would attract more audience takes investment. So the question remains – is streaming an opportunity or an expense?