Monthly Archives: September, 2009

Tools Stations Can Use to Engage Listeners Online

jelliAt RAIN Summit East in Philadelphia this week I got an overview of two nice applications that broadcasters can use to make their streaming offerings more creative and engaging.

Jelli is both an Internet radio station and a tool that broadcasters can use to create their own unique programming. It works like this: listeners can go on the site and choose the songs or artists they want to hear. The playlist is controlled by these requests. The fun starts when lots of people want to hear the same songs, which drives the song up the playlist and puts it on the air faster, or when listeners don’t want to hear a song, which does the opposite. If enough people don’t like a song that is playing, they can actually blow it up mid song, complete with sound effects. The program uses crowd sourcing technology to track listener influence. CBSRadio is using it in San Francisco, airing a three hour Jelli show on Sunday nights on … The guy who presented said it’s available on an exclusive by market basis.

Listener Driven Radio is another application that stations can plug in to get their listeners more involved in the station. It features tools that enable listeners to select songs, deselect songs and generally influence what gets played on the station. Using similar technology, it ties in directly to a radio station’s automation system, feeding real-time commands into the automation system based on the latest crowd-input. Listeners can interact via a website or mobile platform.

Both of these platforms are great ways for stations to engage with listeners and make their products more interactive and relevant.

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New Online Audience Metrics Coming Soon

reynolds andoAndoMedia presented a preview of new metrics at RAIN Summit East last week. In keeping with the format of the Summit, Patrick Reynolds of Ando gave us a few snapshots of data. The online listening audience measured by AndoMedia grew from 204 Million in May of 2009 to 234 Million in August of 2009 – and according to Reynolds, that growth was attributable to increased listening, not to increased number of stations being measured. After the presentation he also told me that number does not include Pandora’s audience, which would surely have an impact.

The average Internet radio listener streams nine sessions per week, and 77% of listeners stream every week. I particularly like that last stat. An enormous percentage of Twitter users signed up, tweeted a few times, and have yet to return to the medium. Twitter retains only about 40% of its users from one month to the next. The fact that streaming audio is keeping ¾ of its audience active on a weekly basis is very promising for continued growth.

Ando is about to make significant changes to its measurement, and Reynolds talked a little about some of the new terms they will be using. Replacing Average Quarter Hour will be the term Average Open Sessions, which will count all sessions of at least a minute in length. This unit is closer to the actual data they are collecting and requires less manipulation. It’s also more in keeping with terms used in other digital media metrics.

According to Reynolds the changes have been blessed by MRC, the board they are working with for accreditation of Webcast Metrics. He promises a new ranker soon, following a four month hiatus while they worked through some of these transitions.

SoundExchange, Broadcasters Chat At RAIN Summit East

sxLast week at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia, RAIN hosted a side channel of digital audio related programming in the form of three short panels and a few quick presentations. I spoke on a panel hosted by Dan Halyburton of RadioTime, along with Les Hollander of Pandora, and Matt Sunshine of Center for Sales Strategy. We talked about the business side of Internet radio, and considered the impact of mobile,  measurement, and the future.

One of the “vignettes” at the Summit featured SoundExchange’s Jon Simson and Bryan Calhoun. The discussion by SoundExchange was interesting for a couple of reasons. After battling with streaming stations for years over performance copyright issues centered on rate, reporting, and compliance, they came to offer an olive branch, of sorts. Simson took the time to explain how hard they strive to find every last performer and send them every dollar they deserve of the fees online stations are streaming. He told a few anecdotes of finding old artists that made it personal and real, and that was a good thing. SoundExchange even sponsored the event, which was held in a private room at the Hard Rock Café next to the convention center.

The conversation took a brief, weird turn when Simson warned the crowd that now that rates are settled SoundExchange expects compliance and payments. He even called out one broadcast company for their failure to adhere to the rules, which I though was both antagonistic and counterproductive in terms of the goodwill they apparently intended to convey. Nonetheless, it was a unique moment in the history of Internet radio – the friendliest gesture I’ve seen from the record label side of things, and I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

More to come on the NAB Show and RAIN Summit East this week…

HP Tunes Into Internet Radio With DreamScreen

dreamscreenIn the category of hip new devices that are Internet radio enabled, check out Hewlett Packard’s DreamScreen.  The HP DreamScreen, a companion to the PC, connects easily to a wireless or wired network to bring photos, music and video into any area of the home. In addition to tuning into Internet radio, People now can stay current with Facebook friends and photos, share Snapfish personal photos and enjoy their music and pictures from home networked PCs.

The HP DreamScreen allows users to stream music directly from the Internet using Pandora. The custom-designed experience makes accessing Pandora accounts easy. Album cover art is displayed and users can personalize their stations by thumbing-up favorite songs or artists to refine their stations. In addition, the HP DreamScreen gives users access to HP SmartRadio, a new service that aggregates streams of live Internet broadcasts from more than 10,000 radio stations around the world. Users can now listen to their favorite radio stations on the Internet by location or genre in any part of their home.

The screen is about 10″ wide – perfect for a night table, desk or kitchen counter, and it’s available online from major electronics retailers for $249. It sounds like a fun Christmas gift to me…

Radio News Departments Get Social

facebookNearly half of radio station newsrooms in major markets are using Twitter and Facebook to connect with their audiences. This information, released by News Generation, comes from a survey of 50 news stations in the top 50 markets.

Radio station news departments use social media sites to extend their reach, by tweeting news stories to followers and posting them on blogs and Facebook. 30 percent of stations believe that staying on top of new media helps them increase listener loyalty and grow their time spent listening.

56% of stations use social sites like Twitter and Facebook as a news source as well. According to News Generation’s report, “The majority of radio newsrooms (56%) rely on social media for story leads from “citizen journalists,” and 34% of radio newsrooms say social media not only provides leads but can also provide possible sources of information for news stories.”

Social media has created a shift in the relationship between radio stations and listeners. The growth of social media means that listeners can interact with their stations to a much greater degree. Twitter, Facebook, blogs on your website, these are all essential tools for satisfying and building your audience.

Targetspot’s Analytics Not So New

Internet radio ad network Targetspot recently announced they have launched Targetspot Analytics, “a proprietary response tracking and reporting system” that reportedly sets new standards for accountability for Internet radio by capturing listener online response after an advertising message is delivered.

“TargetSpot Analytics was designed to deliver greater accuracy, measurement and accountability to Internet radio advertisements,” said Eyal Goldwerger, CEO of TargetSpot. “TargetSpot is the only Internet radio advertising network to offer such robust performance measurement capabilities to maximize the value advertisers see from their investments.”

TargetSpot Analytics tracks the unique and total visits to any advertiser-designated destination website along with other data, following the delivery of an online radio ad. An advertiser simply adds a small snippet of code to their destination website that corresponds to their TargetSpot ad campaign, which enables them to provide information on each visit to the advertiser’s website.

According to the press release, “TargetSpot now also supports 3rd party performance tracking service providers (such as DoubleClick DART and Microsoft Atlas), giving agencies and advertisers the flexibility to choose their preferred method of impression delivery verification and campaign performance tracking.”

This announcement strikes me as misleading, as adding a snippet of code to a website that corresponds to an ad campaign is the way advertising on the web works, and it’s certainly been done with Internet radio campaigns before. In fact, tracking through 3rd party services is a requirement of many campaigns. If what Targetspot now has is a platform that’s easy for advertisers and station personnel to use to set up tracking for campaigns, that’s a good thing, as it will encourage better use of tracking enabled campaigns and lead to better accountability to the advertiser. But leading everyone to believe Internet radio couldn’t do this until last week? Not such a great thing..

Ad Spend Growing on Internet Radio

The ad spend for Internet radio in 2009 will hit $260million, according to a new report by eMarketer. This is in contrast to broadcast radio, which is, as we all know, suffering the steepest spending declines in its history. The report predicts the radio industry will see an 18% drop in revenues from last year. Meanwhile, spending on Internet radio is increasing – moving from $200million in 2008 to $260M in 2009, and projected to hit $351M in 2011.

According to Arbitron Edison the Internet radio audience is now 42 million weekly (12+), up from 33 million in 2008, and eMarketeremarketer ir spending notes that an expanding number of ways to listen to online radio is driving that audience growth. Smartphones and wifi enabled devices have moved Internet radio away from the desktop and into pockets and even cars in the last year.

Benefits for advertisers, according to the article, include more-targeted advertising and a more educated audience with higher income and a greater chance of being employed. Mobile will bring still more opportunities by offering streaming radio on the go via phones and other connected portable devices.

There’s not a lot of new information in this report, but there are a couple of nifty graphs, and its an article that gets its facts right – starting with the headline Internet Radio Revs Up, which of course has a nifty double meaning..

Triton Digital Buys AndoMedia

triton digitalTriton Digital Media has acquired AndoMedia, the leader in online radio audience measurement and audio ad management. Triton Digital, part of the Triton Media Group, services over 4,500 affiliations for its various digital solutions, which include digital tools that stations use for audience engagement, including products for Streaming, Text Messaging, Loyalty, Music Discovery, Video, Content Management Systems, Music News Content and Local Search.

Triton’s been in acquisition mode for a while now, it’s been almost two years since they acquired Excelsior Networks, parent company to Dial Global Radio Networks. Since then they have announced many deals focused on expanding their digital foothold in the radio industry, including a purchase announced in August of loyalty marketing company Enticent.

To that end, the purchase of AndoMedia makes sense for Triton. It expands their offerings to stations to include audience measurement and ad management tools, and expands their client base from 4500 stations to the 6800 stations (broadcasters and online brands) that Ando is doing business with.

AndoMedia has announced some strong successes recently – last spring they watched Arbitron retreat from online audience measurement, and they gained online streaming giant Pandora and the Targetspot network as audience measurement clients, solidfying their place as the industry’s audience measurement platform. They recently purchased Spacial Audio, a company that provided similar ad replacement tools to online broadcasters, and recently began the process of MRC accreditation for Webcast Metrics. Ando Media’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Maccini said, “We’re excited to join the Triton family.  The Triton and Ando resources, technology, leadership, track record and vision for the future promises significant value for our clients and media partners.”

Triton Media Group is backed by Oak Tree Capital. There’s no word on the price of this deal between two private companies.

Webcast Metrics Seeks Accreditation

andomediaAndoMedia has announced they have begun the process of accreditation with the Media Ratings Council, a move which will further solidify their credibility in the measurement of Internet radio audiences.

“This is a critical step for us,” reports Ando COO Paul Krasinski. “MRC is the gold-standard for measurement. Accreditation will not only validate our metrics, but it will give the internet audio industry a measurement standard that’s been validated at the very highest level. With these standards in place, we can now move straight ahead as an industry into accelerated growth mode.”

Ando has begun work on the pre-audit, and will be providing info on their real-time measurement processes in order to comply with the MRC and receive their stamp of approval. Measurement services desiring MRC Accreditation are required to disclose to customers all methodological aspects of their service; comply with the MRC’s Minimum Standards for Media Rating Research; and submit to MRC-designed audits to authenticate and illuminate their procedures.

In addition, Ando has recently announced a change in the way some of the metrics are calculated which will enable more accurate audience data tracking. Until recently, Webcast Metrics had adhered to a 5 minute minimum listening rule to qualify listeners as countable. This was based on older, broadcast radio diary metrics. Now, listeners who listen for a minute or more will be counted. It’s a good decision. Whereas five years ago, the decision to emulate Arbitron’s methods might have been important to gain credibility (and compete with Arbitron who was still measuring online data), those issues are no longer key as Webcast Metrics has become the measurement platform of choice for key players in the industry. Server based metrics should reflect every segment of listening, no matter how brief.

These changes will help Ando move Webcast Metrics into a position of greater credibility with both radio buyers and digital buyers. Data that more closely resembles digital ad data will appeal to digital ad planners and spur greater understanding of Internet radio as a digital ad option. In addition to traditional radio measurement terms such as AQH and Cume, Webcast Metrics will soon add new terms that are more relevant to digital buyers such as sessions, average sessions and peak sessions.

These are wise moves made by a company that has taken the lead position in Internet radio audience measurement. The revamped metrics should benefit spending, and MRC accreditation will enhance credibility for both Webcast Metrics and the Internet radio space.

CBS Puts Last.FM Brand On HD Radio

last fmIn October, CBS will begin integrating Last.fm into its broadcast radio offerings when it launches an all new station to be broadcast on CBS RADIO’s HD multicast stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco and streamed online. CBS says its the first time a music website has been transformed into its own broadcast entity.

“Last.fm’s newest initiative is a novel way for the CBS Interactive Music Group to exercise its radio programming knowledge with a fresh and innovative approach,” said David Goodman, President, CBS Interactive Music Group. “Last.fm has a large and loyal following both here and abroad, and we’re thrilled to be taking this step to expose additional listeners to the world class service.”

The new Last.fm station will feature an eclectic mix of music aggregated and influenced by the service’s user-generated weekly charts, combined with live performances and interviews from the Last.fm studios in New York, and event updates.  The new station will expose audiences to underground, breaking and established artists and songs popular with Last.fm’s more than 25 million monthly users.

Last.fm is a social music streaming service where listeners can build stations and recommend them to friends. The music played on this new station will be influenced by what people are listening to on their personalized stations on Last.fm.

Why not? This is an idea that works for a bunch of reasons. Last.fm is a popular music site with a large online following – so why not extend its reach onto another platform such as HD. It makes Last.fm a bigger brand.  CBS has the channels, and has made the investment in the HD technology, so this gives them a great source of hot new programming while branding their premier online station Last.fm with a new group of listeners.

I’m not a big believer in HD Radio as much more than a way to diversify over the air programming. (Ultimately, I don’t think it grows radio’s audience.) But broadcasters like CBS are already in pretty deep with the technology, so kudos to Goodman and CBS for coming up with some hip creative programming that highlights all that CBS has to offer.

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