Monthly Archives: February, 2010

Displaced DJs Make Happy Podcasters

It happens – radio stations change formats and suddenly popular personalities are out of a job. And Arbitron’s new PPM audience measurement technology has caused station owners to take a harsh look at what’s working and what’s not. But that’s not all bad for several displaced radio personalities who have found that podcasting is a great way to reconnect with their audience directly.

Early last year CBSRadio changed the format of LA’s KSLX to all hits, and radio personality Adam Carolla was out of a job. By March, he was producing shows for downloads and making the top ten on iTunes. And in September he announced a partnership with CBSRADIO that had them promoting the show, handling ad sales and letting Carolla program his own Web radio station.

In Chicago CBSRadio took Steve Dahl off the air, following some format shifts in that market. Not long later, he was producing daily podcasts, this time in partnership with CBSRadio from the get-go.

Now we have displaced DC dj Mike O’Meara, who lost his gig at CBSRADIO owned WJFK when they switched programming to Sports Talk, and is generating 15,000 downloads a day with his weekday show. (Which doesn’t involve CBSRADIO apparently)

It turns out, personality driven radio makes for perfect podcast content. Radio personalities have fans and followers with strong affinities for their shows, which means they’ll go to the extra effort to subscribe, download and listen loyally. Personality driven podcasts are a nice enhancement for radio broadcasters to offer their listeners. The nature of podcasting means those listeners are registered, so it’s easy to target ads to them, and they’re engaged and loyal, which makes them very appealing consumers for advertisers.

As radio stations begin to understand that their broadcast is simply one distribution channel for their content, more and more will create ways to extend relationships with long time radio personalities, even if they’re off the broadcast dial. Podcasts are a good place to start.

Um, Mr. O’Meara? CBSRADIO called while you were out…

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New Tools Make Business of Streaming Easier for Broadcasters

The business of streaming just got a lot easier for radio broadcasters with the announcement that AndoMedia and Marketron will integrate their platforms to enable broadcasters to more easily schedule and deliver Internet radio ads, and combine AndoMedia audience data with campaign goals to permit stations to verify delivery of campaign goals.

“The integration of Marketron Revenue Builder with Ando Media’s Ad InjectorTM platform represents a key advancement in Radio’s Internet sales efforts,” said Steve Minisini, CEO at Marketron.  “Marketron Revenue Builder delivers new top-line revenue growth to our customers by giving them a powerful sales application and critical insight into their Internet business strategies. Ando Media is a crucial player in the Internet radio world, and forging this partnership was anessential step in achieving our goals.”

Now radio stations using these two platforms will have greater insight into their streaming inventory, which will advance their ability to sell and optimize rates. Campaign management is easier, and integrated audience data adds the sophistication of being able to validate the performance of a campaign with impression based data.

Our clients are looking for ways to simplify the process,” said Ando COO Paul Krasinski.  “[this] makes things easier [and] creates a ‘total audio’ platform for our clients.”

It’s great to see sophisticated business platforms working together to provide better business management tools to the industry – this will inevitably encourage greater investment of ad dollars.

Digital Dollars Continue To Grow For Broadcasters

The Radio Advertising Bureau recently released 09 year end and fourth quarter revenue analysis showing that digital platforms were the only revenue category that grew last year. As opposed to Local and National spot, Network and Off-air revenue categories, Digital inventory produced $480 million in 2009, representing a 13% increase in digital revenue.

This is not a strictly streaming number, instead it represents all revenue derived from a station’s website, including activity generated by the websites, internet/web streaming and HD Radio including HD2 and HD3 stations. The report acknowledges that radio’s digital platform continues to provide listeners more choice and deliver additional options for advertisers who, according to the report “increasingly recognize Radio’s loyal audiences who tune in via multiple audio devices such iPods, HD, mobile apps, etc.” Specifically, the analysis points out that Radio’s opt-in communities, ability to drive website traffic, and and branded online opportunities provide additional revenue builders for the industry.

In addition to providing the only growth category for last year, digital revenue is becoming an increasingly significant portion of the revenue solution for broadcasters. In 2009 it represented 6.5% of total revenue (it’s not broken out from all off-air revenue for 2008). Media strategy firm BIA/Kelsey has projected that digital revenues will grow to 30% of radio’s number by 2015 and hit $46.5 billion.

The Truth About Pandora and New Music Discovery

According to some recent research by Bridge Ratings, listeners expect Internet radio stations to be more adventurous and provide them with more opportunities to discover new music. Independent band Barefoot Truth would attest to that. The band has been around loosely since 2003, but recently submitted a cd to Pandora. That’s when it started to get exciting.

According to a recent article in USA Today, the band’s songs started showing up on stations created for fans of Bob DylanJack Johnson and Dave Matthews. “All of a sudden, people we had never met before were buying our music online and asking us to play in their cities,” band guitarist Jay Driscoll says. “Then we started seeing strangers singing the words to the songs at our shows.”

Now their songs have seen over 4.5 million spins on Pandora – according to Sonicbids, an online booking platform for indie bands. That’s a lot – according to music trade publication mi2n, “the 4.5 million figure is notable for a band at this level (by comparison, ‘Where Are You Going’ by Dave Matthews Band has notched 10 million spins,) and Barefoot Truth happily credits ‘The Pandora Effect’ for its crucial role in generating their growing army of listeners.”

Not bad for a band from Mystic, Connecticut (also world headquarters to Audio4cast). It’s a great story about the way Internet radio can open up opportunities for bands to get heard and listeners to hear new bands. It doesn’t hurt that BFT’s music is infectious and Pandora’s audience is growing exponentially. May they thrive…

Getting Consumers to Pay for Online Radio

Will consumers pay for online content they get now for free? That’s a question that Nielsen recently asked 27,000 consumers in 52 countries – and the answer was a resounding “maybe”. After 85% declared that they prefer getting their content for free, survey participants went on to indicate which content they would – or already have – paid for.

In fact, about a third of those surveyed indicated that they have or would be willing to pay for radio (music), and about a quarter for radio (news).  27 or 28% indicated they would or have already paid for podcasts.

Caveats are that they don’t want to see ads if they’re paying for the content, and they expect the content to be “better” than what they were getting for free. Men were more tolerant than women of the idea of advertising, and residents of North American countries were least tolerant globally of the idea of advertising within paid content.

It’s an interesting study in the ongoing debate of best ways to monetize online content. Applied specifically, this information would encourage online stations to create unique channels of audio content that they can charge for, and cultivate customers for that content from within their larger audience base.

Some online stations have been doing this – for $36 a year you can listen to Pandora’s Pandora One, which gives listeners a special desktop app, ad free listening, higher quality audio, and other special features. Digitally Imported offers a similar premium package for $5.95 a month, and Radioio offers an “audiophile subscription” that includes their 52 basic channels plus 20 channels only available to subscribers, along with ad free and better quality streaming.

Does It Make Sense to Block Listeners Outside the US From Streaming?

CBSRadio moved last week to block international streaming access to its radio streams, including AOL Radio and Yahoo Radio streams, but not including Last.fm. According to Inside Radio, “CBS Radio VP of communications Karen Mateo says its streams ‘are designed for and promoted to the U.S. market which is where the majority of our audience comes from. These changes will allow us to focus on and grow our audiences in the U.S.”

Apparently, this news was met with protest, which first appeared on discussion boards at Radio-Info, by listeners in other countries who enjoy access to CBSRadio streams. However, the decision makes some fiscal sense – streaming costs as well as streaming royalties are expensive, and CBS sales efforts are concentrated exclusively on US advertisers, who aren’t interested in paying for impressions delivered to listeners outside the US.

Other groups have made similar decisions – Clear Channel currently blocks access outside the US for its streams, and Pandora also limits access. But Cox’s VP of Digital Gregg Lindahl told Inside Radio that they consider their overseas streams to be a service to soldiers whom their stations hear from all the time.

Geo IP targeting capabilities have made it possible for buyers to understand what percentage of a station’s audience is non-domestic, and to elect not to purchase those impressions. Without a way to monetize the audience, it’s tough to justify delivering the content. AndoMedia recently began releasing streaming audience data in both domestic and total audience rankers, showing what percentage of a station’s audience is domestic versus international.

There’s an alternative for stations that want to continue to provide streaming access to listeners outside the US. Adswizz, a Belgium based company that provides a platform for display, video and audio ad-serving and ad management to radio stations, also has an ad exchange network  that enables stations to sell those impressions. “Adswizz is indeed an alternative and we would certainly like to sell their international inventory in Europe using our exchange network”, says Patrick Roger, VP Global Sales and Marketing, Adswizz.

In fact, they’re already selling campaigns for some US based web-only properties that have such impressions. This solution, or one that finds advertisers who are specifically interested in sponsoring access to listeners outside the US, are two alternatives that would make more friends than enemies, extend a company’s platform, brand and audience, and provide some extra revenue as well…

Study: Digital Song Sales Would Go Up If Prices Went Down

Last year iTunes changed its pricing strategy for songs and began charging more for more popular tunes. The result? Music sales have slowed dramatically. According to several sources, digital song sales grew only 8% last quarter, versus 20% a year earlier for Warner Music Group, with the industry’s fourth quarter growth rate at only 5% over the previous year.

I guess consumers didn’t like seeing the prices increase 30% from .99 to $1.29…

There’s a new study that even suggests that if record companies lowered prices, not only would it spur song sales, but it would also help to combat illegal downloading. The optimal song price, says Wharton business school marketing professor Raghuram Iyengar, is between 60 and 70 cents per song. That’s based on research with over 600 digital music consumers, and laws of supply and demand. See, the forces at play here would indicate that music prices should be lower, not higher:  there’s increased competition, free alternatives, and declining distribution costs. But instead, prices have held steady and recently jumped substantially.

Unfortunately, as an article in Wired points out, the music industry wants to believe that by marketing their wares at higher prices, they are encouraging consumers to perceive greater value in them, rather than subscribing to the theory of supply and demand…

Another Banner Idea From Pandora

Pandora has partnered with AdReady, a display ad platform that allows partners to build display ads for new advertisers using ready made templates, and then serve, target and optimize those banners on the AdReady platform. This opens up a new basket of revenue for the ever innovative Pandora.

“As we grow our user base, it makes sense to identify ways to scale our business and provide access for every size advertiser, from the biggest brands to the specialty and neighborhood shops who want to get their marketing messages out to their best prospects,” said John Trimble, chief revenue officer for Pandora. “Now we are able to offer broader, multi-platform marketing solutions with deep targeting and campaign optimization to businesses that previously didn’t have an affordable advertising solution.”

By partnering with AdReady, a pioneering technology company that makes display advertising accessible to advertisers of any size, Pandora’s new sales team will be able to develop creative assets, traffic and manage campaigns for clients that it previously could not cost effectively service. Now marketers of all sizes such as bands, summer festivals, and local colleges, will be able to leverage the effectiveness and reach of targeted display ad campaigns across Pandora’s growing audience.

“In this current climate of immediate accessibility, the team at Pandora steps it up and delivers what you want, when you need it,” said Kathleen Pittman, president of Green Bottle Media LLC, a full-service media planning and buying service. “With virtually no turn-around time at all, the folks at Pandora were able to present multiple, well-thought-out solutions for a multi-market, regional client — a popular chain of burrito eateries in Texas, implement the plan seamlessly, and report promptly back to us.” The results of the campaign on Pandora generated more than three times the click through rate than any other online placement for Green Bottle Media’s fourth quarter 2009 campaign for this client.

This is a great platform that many broadcast groups would find useful. AdReady works with ESPN, Univision and The New York Times as well as Pandora.

MySpace Music, Targetspot Selling Audio Ads

MySpace Music will run instream audio ads sold by national Internet radio sales company Targetspot. According to reports, the audio ads began running last week for advertisers like Turbo Tax and Office Depot. The ads are inserted after a listener hears one song, and can be followed by a complete album or up to 100 songs on a playlist without another interruption.

Targetspot has announced that this is an exclusive deal that adds MySpace Music’s audience to a network that includes AOL, CBS, Yahoo!, Slacker and Live 365.

Since MySpace Music’s  launch in September 2008, unique visitors to the music.myspace.com subdomain have increased 190 percent — growing from 4.2 million unique visitors to 12.1 million in June 2009. Year-over-year traffic to the URL has increased 1,017 percent. Since June, MySpace acquired social music site iLike, and later added imeem to its platform as well. MySpace Music was an announced key partner in Google Music’s music discovery platform.

This is great news for CBS backed Targetspot, and for the Internet radio industry. Last fall Pandora announced that they were beginning to air instream audio ads. It’s important for the development of a successful business model for Internet radio that key platforms like Pandora and MySpace Music contribute to creating that business model by running audio ads and creating more and better opportunities for advertisers on their platforms.

Better Digital Inventory Insight for Broadcasters

Broadcasters are selling more and more ads across multi media platforms – according to a report in Inside Radio last week, about 80% of Clear Channel’s on-air advertisers now include a digital component — streaming or otherwise — in their buys. That’s good news for the industry that needs to expand content distribution to multiple channels and learn to manage and monetize ad inventory on all of them.

Marketron, the leading provider of inventory management software for radio stations, is rolling out a new application that significantly improves radio’s ability to sell and manage comprehensive cross-media advertising campaigns. Marketron’s new Revenue Builder enables better inventory management across media platforms, which will definitely spur sales growth.

Cox Radio will install Marketron Revenue Builder across its entire group of 86 radio stations.  “Cox has a very successful digital strategy,” states Neil Johnston, CFO of Cox Media.  “Marketron Revenue Builder gives our local stations a great advantage and an opportunity to increase sales, streamline processes and provide an unlimited array of services to our advertisers.” Cox has always had a sophisticated interactive platform and approach to sales, they were one of the first groups to stream all of their stations.

Marketron Revenue Builder is a market-changing application for radio groups. Some radio organizations have done a great job selling their digital assets but are challenged by complex and labor-intensive processes at the operational level.  Revenue Builder enables stations to track and manage cross platform inventory from sales through billing in the same way they manage their broadcast business. Any radio company competing for online dollars should consider this solution.

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