Tag Archives: audio

Nielsen’s Move Toward “Absolute Audio Measurement”

Nielsen_Logo_(Color)Nielsen Ratings, which acquired Arbitron last month, has announced its first change to the way things were done formerly. I’m sure it will not be the last. In a pre-survey bulletin issued prior to the upcoming November ppm survey period, Nielsen told stations that they will begin crediting stations that stream a particular program and then repeat the show in a continuous streamed loop, provided the listening is done within 24 hours of the original program, and also provided that the entire program, commercials and all, remain intact.

It’s a move that both signals Nielsen’s intent to move toward more comprehensive measurement of streaming audio, while at the same time offering a lollipop to some broadcasters that worked hard to prevent Arbitron from complete and fair measurement of streaming audio services. According to Inside Radio, “It’s a rule that most typically impacts morning hosts whose shows repeat on a continuous loop online.  For instance, Clear Channel has created replay channels for syndicated hosts including Elvis Duran, Kane and Bobby Bones.” Now the host of those streams will receive credit for all the listeners to that program, whether they listen live or on-demand.

Arbitron had a tough time doing the right thing when it came to measurement of new kinds of audio, and a lot of the reason for that was the stronghold that radio broadcasters had on the company. (Read a lot more about the history of that here.)

I’m sure this is the first of many changes that Nielsen will make to its measurement of audio. Last December, right after they announced their intent to purchase Arbitron, they announced that they would begin measurement of streaming platforms such as Pandora. They echoed that again in their announcement that the deal was done. On their website, they’re calling it “absolute audio measurement.” Amen…



Last.fm’s New Site Is a Game Changer

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.

IAB Claims Internet Radio As Its Own With New Report

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.

Take A Look At Google’s Online Audio Ad Platform

Voices.com, an online marketplace for voice talent, has joined the list of companies providing production services for Google’s new audio ad format for Internet radio advertisers. The announcement, printed here, has a few things to say about Google’s Online Audio strategy:

“Google is extending its advertising platform so audio ad campaigns can be planned, purchased, tracked and measured on Internet radio, which includes both the simulcast of terrestrial broadcasts online as well as Internet-only audio streaming.” Yep,we knew most of that. Google guys John Breen and Jag Duggal have been hard at work for over a year now with a number of Internet-only stations, testing ad lengths and click through rates. Slacker is among the group of stations that have participated and seen some nice returns, and I did hear in Vegas that there will be an announcement that includes a big radio group coming soon.

The Voices.com release mentions the Google Ad Creation Marketplace, where advertisers can find vendors to create their audio ads. Google’s strategy is to sell integrated ad campaigns that include search (their bread and butter) along with audio, video and display ads. This marketplace is designed to enable that. It’s structured so that vendors create sample ads that are listed by ad type, length and price. Advertisers can browse through the ads and then contact the vendor directly for production.

Google’s Online Audio ads will range in length from :10 to :30 seconds and have an interactive display component that shows alongside the ad. A station’s earnings are – like everything else Google does – based on that click through rate. I’ve heard from some stations that the rates are very low but I’ve also heard of some that are not bad. Registered listener databases that enable the delivery of more targeted ads, reportedly boost click through rates.

Google Audio may be flying low these days, but they’re on my radar. As a potential revenue solution, they should be on yours too…

Pew Study: Audio Is The New Radio

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.

Source: Veronis Suhler Stevenson, “Communications Industry Forecast 2008-2012”

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.

Are We In The Radio Or Entertainment Business?

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?

Maccini PhotoOne 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

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