Last week Pandora announced a significant milestone when they reached 200 million registered listeners. The fact that the number of registered listeners leapt from 100 million to 200 million in two years makes it still more impressive. Remember, Pandora’s user base is largely in the US, although they have recently expanded to a few other places such as Australia.
During a presentation last week at RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, hundreds in the audience got a first look at updated trends in Infinite Dial 2013. Arbitron SVP Bill Rose and Edison Research President Larry Rosin offered some stats on Pandora, which has an impressive brand awareness recognition rate of 69% among adults 12+ in the US, a number that grew 10% since last year’s study. iHeartradio showed impressive brand awareness in the new study as well, with 45% brand recognition, a jump of almost 15% since last year.
The study also reported that close to half of the folks surveyed had downloaded the Pandora app onto their cellphone. This fact reveals the steam engine driving both the growth in audience and brand awareness for industry leader Pandora – their amazing success with mobile apps. As usage of smartphones and tablets has soared, Pandora’s been right out there in front, gaining front page status on those devices. 21% of cell phone owners now saying they have used their phone to listen to a stream in their car, yet another indication of the growing importance of mobile devices.
We’ll be discussing mobile devices, connected cars and a lot more again on May 23 in Brussels at RAIN Summit Europe. Have you registered? Hope to see you there!
Pandora released audience data today showing that they have grown their audience by 50% or more in top markets across the country in the past year. Releasing data that compares January’s audience stats with “holiday 2011″ stats, Pandora now claims to have a 1.0 rating with Adults 18-34 in top markets across the country.
The report uses audience information provided by Pandora and analyzed by Edison Research using methodology that resembles that used by Arbitron, however, they make no specific comparisons to Arbitron’s reports or other stations in their press release. Releasing audience data in this form enables advertisers and agencies to assimilate Pandora’s audience reach with traditional broadcast radio stations’ reach. This assimilation of data and direct comparison to broadcast audience data is precisely the kind of thing that some broadcasters are trying to prevent.
It’s a powerful statement about Pandora’s popularity that they are able to deliver a 1.0 rating in all of the top ten markets in the US with Adults 18-34. You can read the press release here.
In 2003 I started a company called Net Radio Sales that was designed, in large part, to offer a sales solution to streaming broadcast radio stations. Later that year I met with an Arbitron executive to discuss their decision to shut down server based streaming measurement and shift to census based measurement through comScore. I told Arbitron that broadcasters in particular would suffer from that because their streaming audiences were small and local, and would never show up on a national panel. At the time, Arbitron told me that they had two clients (AOL and Yahoo) who were pushing them to move to panel based measurement, and since they were the only two paying clients, the decision had been made. They shuttered Measurecast and moved to estimating streaming audiences based on comScore panel behavior. In case you don’t know the rest, a few years later they abandoned that game as well.
I’ll bet Arbitron wishes they had stayed in server based streaming measurement way back then, because what they had was a platform that measured everyone – streaming broadcast and online only stations, all together. Which brings us to the topic of the day. Now, Arbitron has a bunch of clients who want things done a certain way. Again. This time it’s their broadcast radio clients, and they want Arbitron to measure streaming broadcast stations and online only stations separately. Not just separately but differently, so that the ratings cannot be easily combined.
It’s a problem for Arbitron because their broadcast radio clients pay them a lot of money and they don’t want to alienate them. Those clients want Arbitron to measure their streams – in such a way that they can roll up their broadcast and streaming audiences into one and sell that total audience to advertisers. And they don’t want to be compared to online stations.
And then we have Pandora. Pandora has a large audience – large enough that they can now claim to have more listeners in many markets than some broadcast stations. And they are claiming that – by working with research firm Edison Research, who has helped them crunch numbers and make comparisons. Using standard calculations that are not proprietary.
Under pressure from its clients, Arbitron recently sent out a letter intended to dissuade buyers from using the data that Pandora, with the help of Edison, has been releasing, stating: “We strongly advise clients to avoid comparing self-reported audience estimates from Internet music services to Arbitron radio audience estimates…” They offer several reasons why it’s a bad idea, including claiming that there’s no way to know if anyone is really listening. Really. The most overused objection to radio, the objection that every salesperson in the world learned to overcome in Radio 101? I just really think it’s the pot calling the kettle black on that one.
But on to the thing that really concerns me. Arbitron says comparisons between broadcast streams and online streams can’t be made because there is a vast difference between “one to one” and “one to many” streaming audiences. They’ve created an imaginary line to justify measuring the two categories separately and differently. Supposedly, because “one to many” audiences are all exposed to the message simultaneously while “one to one” listeners are exposed to the message during their unique sessions, the data is different and cannot be assimilated.
“This is an absolutely meaningless distinction” says Kurt Hanson, Publisher of RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter and Founder of AccuRadio, an online station. “Case in point: If Samuel Adams wants to deliver one million impressions of a commercial to listeners in the 4pm hour next Friday (to use a simplified example), they can either buy (A) a couple dozen top AM/FM radio stations, in which case the WAAA listeners will hear it at 4:08pm, the WBBB listeners will hear it at 4:10pm, the WCCC listeners will hear it at 4:13pm, and so forth, or (B) they can buy their desired demographic slice of the audience of a brand like Pandora, in which case some listeners will hear it at 4:01pm, some will hear it at 4:02pm, and so forth. In BOTH scenarios, not all of the target consumers are hearing the spot at the same exact moment! That’s never been important to the advertiser. Both scenarios are precisely the same, in terms if effect, for Samuel Adams.”
I asked one of the smartest agency folks I know – Natalie Swed Stone, US Director, National Radio Investment, OMD, what she thought. She pointed me to her write up for RBR, which she wrote a few weeks ago, and I highlight this quote: “The research has to follow the investment patterns. The more uniform the data, the easier it will be–but marketers and agencies will continue to buy what they want and use best available research to evaluate and estimate behavior.” In other words, research firms should offer data based on the ways that buyers want to buy. If the research does not do that, buyers will do what they have to.
Network radio has been adding up time shifted audiences(that are not hearing the message simultaneously) for decades. It’s completely acceptable to represent a network audience’s AQH as the sum of the AQH’s of audiences across the country listening to a program on hundreds of stations at different times. Arbitron’s RADAR product does this. “When we buy national schedules—they can air on different stations at different times—within the prescribed daypart…” Swed Stone told me, “in TV, the currency is currently live plus 3 days (DVR) etc and the currency is the same –even if a person plays back the program 3 days later –it is included in the overall rating.”
To check my thinking on this topic, I spent a lot of time calling and emailing digitally savvy radio people, asking them about this issue. None of my broadcast sources would go on the record, but they uniformly told me that this is a spin game. No one thought the “one to one” and “one to many” distinction holds any water at all. “It’s not intellectually sound.” I was told.
Arbitron is caught in a tough situation. As a research firm, they’re obligated to create products that are fair and objective. But some of their clients don’t want them to do that in a uniform platform. The listening landscape is rapidly evolving into a space that includes new audio platforms. Ultimately, advertisers and listeners will decide the landscape – listeners will listen to what they want to hear and advertisers will spend to reach them.
The audio landscape has never been more diverse and interesting. Pandora, with its enormously popular platform is bringing new advertisers into the space, and this could be a big win for the industry. Grow the pie! Adapting to new dynamics would be time better spent that shoveling sand against the tide..
All of the data available in Triton’s Media Rating Council (MRC) accredited national monthly rankers will now be available on a local market level, per an announcement yesterday by Triton Digital. Triton’s Webcast Metrics audience data will now be made available to subscribers on a local market by market basis. The updated solution will enable publishers to highlight their audience metrics within individual markets and combinations of markets as well as segment the audience across demographic attributes within geographies.
Unlike the top 20 ranker that Triton releases monthly, local data garnered through Webcast Metrics will not be released publicly. It will be the exclusive property of the subscribing publisher.
“We believe there is a substantial monetization opportunity for publishers within the local digital and mobile marketplace,” said Mike Agovino, COO of Triton Digital. “Local mobile advertising alone is expected to grow by more than $2 billion over the next several years, and this evolution of Webcast Metrics will further assist our customers in fully capitalizing on this market opportunity.”
This development has been in the making for a while – I know that Triton has been examining their local market reporting for a while with something like this in mind. And Pandora, the most listened to Internet radio station on Triton’s rankers, has been stepping up the demand for market by market ratings. In fact, a few months ago Pandora partnered with research firm Edison Research and began releasing hybrid local market ratings using Triton’s Webcast Metrics data and standard AQH formulas and comparing them to ratings and shares in Arbitron‘s local market broadcast reports.
Which caused a furor among broadcasters and their spokespeople who believe that broadcast radio should only be measured in a vacuum and never compared to other audio content sources like Internet radio or satellite radio. Of course, that’s silly — any ad supported audio content will ultimately have to measure up to any other to demonstrate performance and garner ad investments.
The fact that Triton will release local market audience data to subscribers is a great thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been available to them for a while, but the formal announcement and new product called Webcast Metrics Local ups the ante. Competition is good. It spurs development, keeps everyone on their toes, and is a sign of a thriving industry. Play on…
Americans are spending more time in their cars, time spent in cars on weekdays has increased by over an hour since 2003. Last week, Arbitron, Edison Research and Scarborough presented an update to a study from 2003 called The Road Ahead that looks at in-car listening options and adoptions.
While radio continues to the the audio listening choice in cars, its dominance has dropped by 12% since 2003. Back then 1% of people chose satellite radio, and listening to ipods and Internet radio streams was not an option. Now, 8% of folks who have driven or ridden in a car in the last month have listened to satellite radio, and a whole slew of new choices have bubbled up to compete with AM/FM broadcast radio. 6% listened to a Pandora stream, 4% to an AM/FM stream, and 2% to another non-Pandora stream. (The numbers are not exclusive so we can’t add them up).
The study also looked at the way people “feel” about various listening platforms, and the results are very insightful. At the top of the list of things people “love” listening to in their car is satellite radio with 54%. 34% “love” listening to Pandora via a mobile phone. And 30% love listening to AM/FM streams via a mobile phone, while 28% “love” listening to the same content on their AM/FM radio. New technologies, notes the study, get better “love” ratings, even if the content is the same..
Despite a proliferation of new in-car technologies, radio remains the “king”. But that’s not a license to be complacent, cautions the study. Instead, radio should recognize that “digital platforms are crucial to protecting radio’s in-car franchise. In fact, the authors of the study believe that HD radio has the ability to “provide the ‘wow’ factor for AM/FM in-car radio. This must be based on the higher “love” ranking that HD Radio gets among people that have it.
Mobile is changing the way we do things, and smartphones are changing the way we do mobile. Smartphone ownership has tripled since 2009 – close to a third of Americans 12+ own a smartphone.
What’s really interesting to note is what smartphoners are doing with their devices. According to the new Arbitron/Edison Infinite Dial Study, 40% browse the Internet several times a day or more. 14% play games. 8% watch video. 8% listen to Pandora. While the most popular activity remains talking on the phone, texting is gaining fast, and other activites are growing.
Folks are looking for ways to use their smartphones and platforms that are well suited are the big winners. 27% of smartphoners use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, a number that jumped 34% in a year. Sites and activities that are well positioned in the mobile game are winning audience big time: Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Twitter.
The media landscape is changing. Mobile, and in particular smartphone usage is revolutionizing media delivery, use and expectations. And the pace of change is phenomenal. Are you thinking about ways to make mobile happen for your platform?
22% of the 12+ US population listens to Online radio weekly, according to updated Infinite Dial information presented today by Arbitron. That translates to about 57 million Americans. It’s twice the number that were listening five years ago, in fact, that number has doubled twice in ten years.
Time spent listening expanded as well, average time spent listening to online audio in a week is now close to ten hours, up from 8 a year ago.
Arbitron’s Bill Rose started the presentation by reminding everyone that Arbitron and Edison Research have been releasing studies about Internet radio since 1998 – this is their 19th such study. It’s by far the most comprehensive history of listening patterns to Internet radio. Since it began, it’s expanded to cover usage of lots of online media including video, social platforms and more.
Arbitron’s Bill Rose and Paul Krasinski will provide more insight into the new Infinite Dial 2011 at RAIN Summit West on Monday April 11th in Las Vegas. For more information on that, you can click here. To read or download the study, go here.
70 million Americans have listened to or watched a downloaded podcast, according to a recently updated report by Edison Research: The Current State of Podcasting. That’s 23% of the population, a number that’s increased just one percent from a year ago.
Awareness of podcasting is sitting steady at 45%, up just slightly from last year’s 43%. That’s not the kind of growth that inspires hope that the medium will spread like wildfire. Podcast listening and/or viewing just hasn’t gone mobile – 71% of people who listen to podcasts do so on their desktop and that number has actually increased from last year, according to the study.
So while cell phone usage has soared, podcasting usage has gotten stuck on the desktop, which is one possible explanation for the stagnant growth of the audience. Smartphone streaming has made downloading audio files for listening on mobile phones unnecessary.
It looks like streaming is taking a bite out of podcasting at this point. Online radio’s audience is 70 million monthly (Arbitron/Edison’s Infinite Dial Study).
Podcast consumers tend to be early adopters and social networkers, according to the study. They tend to respond to sponsor ads – 71% said they had visited a website because of an ad they had seen or heard in a podcast.
With wifi and 3G, and soon 4G access more readily available to consumers who want to stream and listen on demand, it’s looking more and more like podcasting is an interim audio technology that has limited long term audience growth because it’s replaceable by audio streaming.
According to the newly released Infinite Dial study, listening to Internet radio didn’t increase much from 2009 to 2010. Last year’s study pegged the audience at 69 million, this year it’s 70 million, both netting a 27 share of the population.
That’s because broadband is nearly ubiquitous, says the study. As organic growth of broadband has nearly stopped, growth for online mediums such as online radio, podcasting and online video have slowed.
The audience is 55% male, 45% female and tends to be employed, educated, and have higher incomes. They like the interactive options that online radio offers, along with variety and fewer commercials. When asked to name an online only station, Pandora was the clear winner. Pandora is has taken the brand position for online radio. (See my post here about Pandora becoming the Kleenex of Online radio).
The study found that more people listen to online only brands than AM/FM streams. This should be a clear impetus to AM/FM broadcasters to offer more and different options in their online streams. According to this information, listeners are turning online to find offerings that are different than what they can hear on their AM/FM radios. To compete, broadcasters must expand their offerings to include side channels and options that give listeners ways to control and interact with the streams.
Last week, Arbitron and Edison Research released their updated yearly survey of radio and associated digital platforms, The Infinite Dial. It’s an extremely comprehensive study that has over the years become the benchmark of the continued redistribution of radio’s audience onto alternative digital audio platforms.
For the first time, this year’s study finds the Internet surpassing TV as the most essential medium for those surveyed. 42% of those surveyed stated that the Internet is most essential to their life, compared to TV (39%), radio (14%), and newspapers (5%). The number of people that claimed the Internet more than doubled from a year ago. But even though the headline for this data point is that the Internet beats TV as most essential for the first time, it was not TV that lost a lot of ground – only 3% fewer people claimed TV than last year. Radio and newspapers were the big losers, each losing close to 50% of the share they had a year ago when respondents were asked this question.
In part, this trend identifies a shift to online listening. More and more Americans are listening to online radio and are also relying first on the Internet for music discovery. Another first this year – among 12-24 year olds, the Internet is now the place they turn first to hear new music. 62% of 12-24 year olds go online to hear new music, a number that has doubled in the past year, while just 32% turn to radio first. While radio still wins that data point with respondents of all ages, it lost a lot of ground in one year. My guess is that by next year the Internet will be the first source of new music for all ages in this study.
These are conclusions that more sharply than ever identify that radio’s audience is rapidly and relentlessly moving online. This year’s study pegs Internet radio ‘s monthly audience at 70 million – 27% of the population.