Not to be outdone by recent enhancements by Spotify and Pandora, Last.fm has rolled out a new interface for Last.fm Discover that is easily the best looking offering I’ve seen by a streaming station. It’s based on HTML5 and was developed in tandem with Microsoft to showcase the new capabilities that HTML5 in Internet Explorer 9 can offer.
Last.fm Discover is a customizable, personalizable offering that focuses on new music and artists. Launched a few months ago, the offerings are influenced by Last.fm’s charts of what listeners are scrobbling and listening to on Last.fm.
The site is very playful and inviting – perfectly suited to the Discover theme – rolling green textured hills invite you to explore the various music genres. It’s a fun and inventive look that feels more like a game – listeners can’t help but poke around, relax, hang out and discover new music. Once you select a genre, it shows you some artists and endless options for listening to similar artists, or taking a new direction. It’s addictive – I found it hard to stop clicking. (The screenshot reveals my affection for K pop..)
While much of the new site can be seen in any browser, the experience is enhanced in Internet Explorer 9. In fact, I’m a Chrome user and this got me to open IE for the first time in a while. “What we want is to see more and more websites using as much of HTML5 as possible and one of the reasons for that is we want websites to be more like apps in the way they feel,” explained Ian Moulster Microsoft product manager.
I really like this new development – I think they’ve done a great job of breaking the mold when it comes to streaming station interfaces, developing a look that matches the station’s theme of discovery. So we’ll see if it gets Last.fm a little more traction in terms of listening. Last.fm has been surprisingly stagnant in terms of audience growth and general awareness here in the US compared to Pandora and Spotify.
While broadcasters gathered in DC last week, digital folks were in NYC at the Interactive Advertising Bureau‘s annual MIXX Conference, part of Ad Week in that city. (It’s a shame that the two events are at the same time.) During their event, the IAB released its “Digital Audio Advertising Overview” Platform Status Report, a first ever effort by that organization to define the digital audio space and make it easier for digital advertisers to understand it.
The document “defines the digital audio category and provides a snapshot of the marketplace audience size and demographics as well as outlining the players in the market, the vehicles currently used to deliver content and advertising formats, and some of the most important metrics for measuring success.” It’s a white paper that provides a nice overview of Internet radio in terms of audience and measurement, ad opportunities and standards. While the report calls itself an overview of the digital audio space, in fact it concentrates solely on Internet radio – I saw no references to podcasting, on demand streaming, HD, or any other types of what I consider to be audio of the digital variety.
The paper provides research from Nielsen, Bridge Ratings, AndoMedia as well as Edison Research/Arbitron’s comprehensive annual Infinite Dial Study to define the market size, provide listening data and identify the ad units typically available. It also lists major advertisers such as Chevrolet, Ford, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, American Express and Home Depot (the list is longer), and includes a case study of OnStar on the Katz Online Network as well as Pandora.
With this white paper the IAB, the main ad association for the digital market, is finally acknowledging digital audio as a digital ad option for advertisers, so it’s a great thing. With all due respect to those involved, it’s long overdue. While there is little that’s new in the report, it’s all pulled together very succinctly into a credible presentation that sellers can use to educate advertisers. It should be particularly useful with digital ad agencies who have been slow to spend on Internet radio. Having the IAB stamp of approval means a lot.
Congrats to Brian Benedik of Katz360 and Andy Lipset of TargetSpot, co-chairs of the IAB’s digital audio committee, and the companies that are on the committee: AndoMedia, Google, Clear Channel Radio, Comcast, comScore, Cox Cross Media, ESPN, Pandora Media, and others. Hats off for a job well done.
You can download the report here.
Radio is well positioned for a transition to a digital future, according to a new study by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. Radio has the ability to maintain and grow its audience through several digital audio platforms and is doing a better job than other traditional media such as television, newspapers and magazines.
Radio is on its way to becoming a new medium called Audio, according to this study. Listeners are tuning in via many channels including Internet radio, podcasts and satellite radio, which are contributing audience growth. Not all newer digital audio technologies are growing audience however — the study notes that HD Radio continues to struggle both with the lack of audience and a static number of stations converting to the HD platform of delivery.
Radio is experiencing an “intriguing fragmentation” across other audio platforms, which are also providing broadcasters with opportunities to grow revenue. Over the next five years, Internet radio and mobile revenues will continue to increase.
The main focus of the study is the impact of new media on news, and the appetite for radio news is dropping on AM/FM stations. But 24% of adults 18+ indicated they had listened to a newscast online – either streamed or downloaded. A stated conclusion is that the slow increase in online listening corresponds to a simultaneous loss of broadcast radio audience.
All of this emphasizes the wisdom of broadcasters who are distributing their audio content across multiple channels. It’s more important than ever to strategically develop a diverse digital audio platform that feeds the digital audio audience’s diverse appetite.
The following is an article by guest blogger Robert Maccini.
It continues to amaze me that some in the radio industry have not embraced digital. Terrestrial radio is a distribution system. Broadcasters have years of experience developing great content. One can argue that this content has been homogenized in recent years but I believe we still have the ability to attract listeners as evidenced by 92% of the population using radio on a weekly basis. Why would any broadcaster shun streaming their station and developing an effective sales strategy?
One cannot fight technology and a new two way communication system is here and quickly gaining ground, IP delivered audio and video content. Advertisers crave being able to more effectively and efficiently communicate with their target audience.
Streaming audio has the ability to not only know where a listener is located but also their age, sex and other qualitative information. Currently this new distribution system lacks full mobility but the coming advent of web browsers in new cars is going to quickly cure this limitation. Coupling that with the advent of 4G cell networks and WiMax results in the listening experience being as good as terrestrial radio including where bitrates are higher – HD radio. I could rant on about the millions of dollars wasted by the radio industry on this antiquated one way entertainment system… but I think this last sentence sums it up.
In these difficult economic times it becomes increasingly harder to contemplate investing money to develop this new distribution system for radio when expense line items are being scrutinized right down to the station copier lease. A common refrain is, “Am I just cannibalizing my existing revenue?” While in some cases this may be true, not providing content for this new distribution system puts stations in the position of not being able to fulfill advertiser demands and ceding this to a competitor.
The Internet radio industry is in the first inning and currently represents less than 5% of most radio station revenue. However, this is one slice of the advertising pie that is growing. I believe with an economic recovery (no prediction of when this will occur) ad dollars will continue to flow to digital at a greater rate.
In the end terrestrial radio stations will be one of thousands of listener options. The only elements that can set terrestrial radio delivered via IP apart are the quality of content including local news/information, personalities and unique approaches to this new medium. We are not in the radio business.
Robert J. Maccini is the CEO of Ando Media, LLC the leading provider of audience measurement and ad insertion technology for the Internet radio industry. You can learn more about Ando Media at www.andomedia.com