Monthly Archives: January, 2014

Have You Heard The News Today?

There’s a lot going on with streaming audio talk platforms that’s intriguing. I don’t mean podcasts, although there is certainly a growing demand and interest in that form of on-demand streaming talk programming.

Swell is a smartphone app that allows you to hear interesting content and like or dislike it, personalizing your content as you listen. It’s similar, but different from Stitcher, which gives you the opportunity to design your listening experience by selecting programs, but it doesn’t go beyond that to suggest more content based on your interactive likes and dislikes.  NPR’s mobile app offers a nice way to listen to their own programming, while Tunein gives you a chance to pick your programs and listen to them archived or live. swell

Meanwhile, Spoken Layer is a new startup that offers publishers the option of converting their articles to professionally read audio. Scalable narration and content distribution, as they describe it on their site. The platform enables publishers to turn any text into spoken audio in just minutes, enabling audio delivery of their content. In fact, while Spoken Layer does have partnerships already with several well-known publishers, including The Atlantic, National Journal, Engadget and TechCrunch, any journalist can use the platform to create an audio offering of their piece, or record it themselves.

spoken layerI like to listen to talk programming, particularly in the car, so I’m pleased to investigate options that help me get more of what I find interesting. Talk programming can be highly engaging and entertaining, making it a good format for advertisers. News/talk is a “lean forward” format – listeners are generally tuned in and listening actively, as opposed to music formats, which listeners listen to in the background. Years ago, I sold ads on a news/talk station in Hartford, and was often amazed at the response that an advertiser would get from a live read done by the morning drive personality.

Jason Calacanis, a very smart digital media entrepreneur, has just launched a new site called Inside, which offers readers a curated news feed that emphasizes excellent journalism on topics that the reader can choose. While it doesn’t offer an audio platform, it’s interesting to note that Calacanis is an investor in Swell also. Calacanis, whose career highlights include founder of Weblogs, a network of professional blogs that included Engadget and Autoblog, which he sold to AOL, will be the keynote speaker at RAIN Summit West on April 6th during NAB Show Week. He’ll deliver his annual State of Media speech there, and I expect it to be one of the most interesting speeches we’ve ever hosted at a RAIN Summit event.

The world of news/talk audio programming is changing, impacted by online offerings that enable a seemingly limitless listening experience. Choice is the name of the game, and consumers are in the drivers seat…

Viral Audio

Last week I read an article on Digg about audio on the Internet that really has me thinking. The article, which is well worth reading, examines the reasons why audio is less apt to be shared than video online. Why is audio less viral?

This is a great question, and answers abound. Video has youtube, and youtube has video, making sharing so easy, for starters. Cameras are everywhere. People like to share and look at pictures, still or moving. It’s more fun to look than listen.

But wait, is that true? Not necessarily. I think it’s easier to look than it is to listen. And it’s also easier to make something entertaining when there is a visual element. Audio has to work harder to be good. But when it is, it’s almost better.

Have you heard the audio interview “The Worst Haircut Ever”? It’s an interview that father/journalist Jeff Cohen did with his two daughters, ages 3 and 5, after the older one cut the younger one’s hair. It’s a great illustration of how audio can be as engaging (or more) than video. I listened to it, chuckled, and then played it for my daughter, who loved it too. After, she said: “I wish I could see what her hair looked like!”

I think that’s just it – audio works so well for this bit, and the bit works so well on audio because we can only imagine what the haircut looked like. We’re more engaged because we can’t actually see it.

What are the elements that make great audio that people will want to share online? How can we make sharing of audio mainstream? Platforms like Soundcloud make it easy to upload and share audio.

I’m making it a mission for 2014 to share audio in my social networks, and I invite you to do the same. #audio

RAIN Summit NYC: Pureplays and Podcasts

RAIN Summits have an exciting calendar in 2014, beginning with a first ever RAIN Summit NYC on February 5th. The event will take place at The Greene Space in Soho, and the focus of the agenda will be “pureplays and podcasts”. It’s going to be an exciting afternoon and evening of discussions and networking among streaming audio entrepreneurs, with topics dedicated to platforms that are not using streaming to supplement their broadcast platforms, but are originating their programming online. NYC_EARLYBIRD2

The list of speakers, and panel topics, are available on the website. Speakers include a unique list of folks who haven’t joined us before like Deezer, 8Tracks, Songza, and Earwolf (to name but a few). Panel topics will cover both streaming and podcasts. We’ll also talk about licensing and also hear a panel of investors in the space.

It’s an afternoon event, beginning at 1:30 and ending with a cocktail reception from 6-7. Registration is very reasonable – and until Monday you can get the early bird rate of $49.

It’s going to be a great event, and it will be better if you join us. February 5th in NYC. Hope to see you there!

Streaming Services Put Focus On Advertising Innovations at CES

It’s press release week – err, I mean CES week – in our industry this week, a time when lots of folks gather in Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, and announce innovative products and projects. I don’t mean to belittle the announcements, some of which sound very promising. But it’s kind of a shame that it all has to be condensed into one week.

In any event, two announcements in particular caught my attention yesterday. First, an announcement by AdsWizz and Aha by Harman, who have partnered to deliver ads. Aha has a strong foothold in the automotive market – in some 50 car models by 14 manufacturers. The AdsWizz piece enables audience targeting based not only on the usual age/gender demographics, but also including location, make and model of the car.

Pandora‘s announcement yesterday concerned similar innovations – rolling out in-car audio advertising that enables advertisers to target listeners who are listening in their cars. Ford, BP, State Farm and Taco Bell are national brands that are targeting Pandora listeners in their cars. More than 4 million unique users have activated Pandora through a native integration in a car.

Streaming audio services continue to refine their ability to deliver ads to consumers with precision, enhancing advertiser impressions by doing so. Increased targetability creates increased value for the advertiser by boosting an ad’s return on investment, and that’s a great place for our industry to focus innovative energy..

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