Tag Archives: Broadcasting

Abacast Announces Seamless Ad Insertion Patent

A few months back Saga Communications made news by shutting down some of their stations’ streams, claiming one of the reasons was that the quality of their streaming content was compromised by imperfect streaming technology. There was some debate by various pundits and publications, and I weighed in with my opinion too, which was that simply using ad-insertion to cover over the air ads with streaming ads and public service announcements was not compelling programming, and probably was not going to contribute to the growth of a station’s streaming audience.

Now, Abacast, a content delivery network that sells streaming technology, bandwidth and associated services to broadcasters, has announced that they are waiting to be awarded a patent that will cover the replacement of ads with ads and additional content types such as songs in radio streams.

“We are pleased that the USPTO has recognized our innovation in this area,” said Rob Green, CEO of Abacast. “Broadcasters need the flexibility to dynamically serve a variety of content types, including ads and songs, to their Internet audience in place of their broadcast advertisements.”

Called Dynamic Ad Insertion, the system produces a seamless stream,  and allows for the broadcast ad to be replaced with ads, songs, and other Internet-specific content and is inclusive of mobile devices and tablets, in addition to PCs.

Pandora Wants a Piece of the Political Ad Pie

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Image via Wikipedia

In their typically savvy way, Pandora has implemented a strategy for taking political ad dollars. Taking the listener registration information that they already have on every listener, they have created a turnkey way for political candidates’ campaigns to deliver their messages to custom voter zones. The service also offers rich media attributes, enabling campaigns to utilize display and video components in addition to audio.

Once again, Pandora is aggressively going after broadcast radio dollars with this strategy. Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble said, “With the 2012 political campaign season in full swing, advertisers realize that personalized, internet radio is a powerful platform to reach a desired set of voters. Pandora’s new targeting features maximize effectiveness of ad spend that has historically been wasted reaching voters outside of election districts. Political, national and local advertisers all benefit from our scale, precision targeting and personalization to reach a passionate and engaged audience on Pandora.”

Pandora gathers zip code data at account registration and a back-end system maps that information into specific regions, making it easier for a campaign to maximize effectiveness. These new features add on to the previously available targeting parameters of age, gender, zip code, time of day, music genre, seeded artist, interaction, mobile and first impression.

Political ad spending has been climbing for years and – thanks to the elimination of campaign spending caps – will be higher than ever for 2012. In 2008, the last presidential election year, political ad spending was $2 billion, last year, without a presidential election it reached $2.3 billion.

While Pandora can offer a nicely targeted ad campaign within precise voter zones, one thing candidates will not get from Pandora is the FCC mandated political rate card. Radio broadcasters are required under FCC regulations to provide all political candidates with a fixed rate at the lowest available rate on their stations. Pandora and other Internet radio stations are not beholden to such rules.

Radio Isn’t Pandora and Pandora Isn’t Radio

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Ev...

Image by Jerrycharlotte via Flickr

Streaming music platforms are getting a lot of attention lately. Pandora’s been growing its audience at an impressive rate, MOG, rdio and others are getting funding, former radio personalities are showing up on Internet radio, and lots of folks are talking about it.

It’s a groundswell that started, like many do, as a teeny tiny trend that many folks said would never take off. Back in 2003 when I started Net Radio Sales (now Katz360), the other guys were starting RL Radio (now Targetspot). Arbitron was shutting down its streaming measurement platform (called Measurecast). And revenue was tough to come by.

That’s not the case anymore. Investment money is flowing into online music platforms, and Pandora recently announced a plan for an IPO to raise $100 million. Audiences are growing fast. Targetspot recently told Inside Radio that their revenues were up 75% over last year. The future looks bright and getting brighter.

But all of this seems to have thrown radio broadcasters off of their game. Instead of focusing on their core competencies, they can’t take their eyes off of Pandora or Slacker, or another streaming music platform. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots to like about those platforms. They can deliver unique personalized streams and targeted ads to registered listeners, and that’s a great thing.

But they aren’t a replacement for broadcast radio. They’re not local and their not personable. They’re not…human.

In developing their online streaming presence, Radio broadcasters should focus on the human aspects of their programming. Concentrate on talent, news, and excellent programming. Not programming for the highest cume, but for the happiest and most engaged listeners. Interact with those listeners in meaningful ways, and give them ways to interact with the station and each other. Create fun and interesting blogs, side channels, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages that listeners can love. And please, register those users.

Stop thinking about what Pandora is and trying to be that, instead think about what they aren’t and play that card…

Looking Good: Internet Radio’s Next Challenge

Smartphones and other Internet radio devices have increased Internet radio’s mobility and moved Internet radio into much closer competition with broadcast radio, according to a briefing of the Station Resource Group. Wireless Internet radio will not completely replace broadcast radio, however it will continue to expand.

Handheld devices are becoming a popular mobile Internet radio listening device, and although easy listening is complicated by the need for specialized applications per station or service and device operating system, that will likely change with updates to browsers and technology. New interest and developments are heating up for connected automotive devices, which will grow listening to Internet radio as well. However the study notes that these in-car listening stations will also offer AM/FM receivers and won’t replace broadcast technology in cars.

An important aspect of radio’s new delivery systems is the screen that many devices have that can deliver graphical displays and even video. So as not to be considered deficient on these devices, broadcasters must develop alliances and strategies for offering visual content compatible with their audio content.  

It’s an interesting briefing that acknowledges the increasing impact the Internet radio is having on broadcast radio stations. There’s wisdom in the recommendations that radio begin to identify itself as a visual medium and develop visual content solutions that can entice listeners. This video by Slate Magazine gives an overview of some Internet radio stations’ visual approaches and also made me think a little more about videos as well…

NPR’s Got Lots Of Listeners, Lots Of Web Traffic

By 9am on weekdays NPR‘s broadcast audience has peaked, while the online audience continues to build until mid afternoon. According to data NPR recently shared on their website, the broadcast audience peaks at 7am with about 2.3 million listeners in an average quarter hour. Two hours later that number is under 2 million and falling – while the streaming audience is ramping up.

The streaming audience peaks at about 70,000 at 2pm. Both the broadcast and streaming numbers drop for the rest of the afternoon, with the broadcast audience peaking to 2 million again at 5pm.

NPR.org’s deep online platform includes a large amount of programming from the 24 Hour Stream or archived shows like Morning Edition, NPR Newscasts, Car Talk, or NPR Music. The online number seems to indicate website traffic, and therefore counts visits to NPR’s blogs and news offerings on the site as well.

It’s very interesting data that underscores what a deep platform NPR has. By offering live and archived streamed programming and other website features, NPR is doing a nice job of expanding their brand.

Note: This post has been updated (9:50am) for better accuracy. Many thanks to Matt for his comments and insight.

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