eMarketer says that this will be the year that smartphone usage in the US will cross the 50% threshold, meaning that half of all mobile users will be using smartphones. Standing at the front of the line of services that benefit from this massive shift to online mobile access are Pandora and Twitter. These two platforms have as many, or in the case of Pandora, more users accessing them via mobile than via desktop.
Late last year comScore released a beta report of their Media Metrix Multi-platform measurement report, which merges usage data via web, smartphone and tablet into one number. providing an excellent snapshot of a service’s user base. It then assigns a multi-platform ranking that can be compared to the standard Media Metrix ranking. Sites with a higher multi-platform ranking are the ones that have lots of mobile users.
Google is number one on both rankers, and the top ten sites don’t shift much, meaning that they maintain their user base when mobile usage is factored in. But Pandora benefits greatly from this multi platform measurement approach – their rank moves from 61 to 23. No other site on the top 30 enjoys such significant lift from adding in mobile to the ranker.
More than a quarter of mobile subscribers listened to music on their phones in April, according to new data from comScore. 25.8% of US mobile subscribers used their mobile device to listen to music, a number that is up 1.3% from the first quarter stat. Texting is the most popular activity at 74.1%, with app use, browser use, social interactions and gaming being the other popular activities.
The increasing popularity of mobile music listening is having an impact that is interesting to observe. Last week I wrote about Samsung as the latest mobile phone manufacturer to purchase a streaming service, recognizing the opportunity that lies in providing music content. SiriusXM recently announced a major upgrade to its mobile streaming offering – in the future, hanging on to their subscribers will likely require more and more competition with streaming services that are mobile-ready.
Meanwhile broadcasters are pressing for FM chips in phones to be mandated by congress, despite resistance by phone manufacturers. This could be a critical piece of broadcast radio’s future survival as mobile listening continues to grow. But the question remains, will listeners choose to listen to fm services when streaming services are available? Given the higher degree of interactivity offered by most streaming options, this is a big question.
comScore, in releasing new data from its Total Universe report, has highlighted Internet radio and Pandora as an example of the kind of online service that is likely to gain more or most of its traffic via mobile channels. comScore’s Total Universe report “provides audience measurement for 100 percent of a site’s traffic, including usage via mobile phones, apps, tablets and shared computers such as Internet cafes.”
In its first blog post focused on the new reporting, comScore cites Pandora as an excellent example because it attracts “a significant percentage of its users via mobile (which in this case includes web browsing on phones and tablets, as well as access via mobile apps).” In April 2011, Pandora’s Total Universe web traffic was 74% higher than traffic noted solely on home and work computers.
It’s important to note that comScore data is focused on traffic to web sites rather than timed listening to streaming, so these numbers represent visitors to websites or web apps, but not actual listening.
In fact, 42% of Pandora’s web traffic was only via mobile devices, and they claim an impressive 35% reach among smartphones.
Having identified Pandora as a service that sees a very large proportion of its audience via mobile traffic, comScore goes on to note “that the example highlights the extent to which mobile can drive traffic for certain brands – especially those whose value proposition largely relies on mobility, such as Internet radio.“
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.
Arbitron has unveiled a new phase in their PPM technology which extends measurement onto a wireless platform. Called the PPM 360, it lays the foundation for the development of future applications for the patented, proprietary PPM technology on multiple consumer devices.
“This innovative approach further liberates audience measurement from the home and enables media, brands and marketers to follow the mobile consumer more closely – which is particularly important for brands appealing to younger demographics,” said William Kerr, President and CEO, Arbitron. “This platform is designed to be an integrated component to our existing radio services and drive future innovation for media measurement.”
The Arbitron Portable People Meter technology tracks consumers’ exposure to media and entertainment, including broadcast, cable and satellite television; terrestrial, satellite and online radio as well as cinema advertising and many types of place-based digital media.
Arbitron has had the capability to detect streaming listening all along with their PPM technology. Thusfar, they have chosen to only use that technology to measure listening to broadcast stations who are adhering to a 100% simulcast rule (and are therefore not monetizing their online ads except as add-ons to broadcast campaigns). It’s basically sidelined Arbitron as a viable option for streaming radio audience measurement.
Arbitron used to measure Internet radio station audiences, first with their own server based technology, then with the acquisition of Measurecast. They eventually shuttered Measurecast and opted for a partnership with comScore, using comScore data and producing audience estimates that were panel based and inadequate for measuring most individual stations.
The PPM 360 press release hints at an interest in extending audience measurement more seriously to new media, and with their already existing capabilities, streaming radio audience measurement is a natural place for Arbitron to head. I’m staying tuned…
Newly released data from comScore puts Internet radio rep Targetspot’s network at the top of the “Entertainment-Radio” category for the month of February. Targetspot reps all of CBSRadio’s Internet radio sites which include AOL Radio and Launchcast as well as CBSRadio’s broadcast stations’ streams. In addition, Targetspot sells streaming audio ads on Slacker, MySpace Music and GOOM Radio.
It’s no surprise that their reach is large and their rank in comScore shows that is indeed the case. A Targetspot press release touts the info, saying “the company reaches more than 64% of the Entertainment-Radio category and 14% of the total Internet audience.”
It’s good to finally have some data to quantify the extent of Targetspot’s network reach. It’s important however, to understand what this comScore data is telling us, and what it is not. This ranker measures the number of persons that visit a website, not the number of listeners to a stream. The “Entertainment-Radio” category compares networks with websites in that category, and tracks traffic to those websites. comScore’s data is a useful tool for selling website impressions such as display banners.
So while it is good information, it’s data that is not about the number of listeners that a station has, and it’s information that is difficult to use to sell or purchase audio ads. It’s not as good as it would be if we could finally see the Targetspot network measured in AndoMedia’s Webcast Metrics report – which is a report that contains data about listeners to streams rather than visitors to websites.
This is Targetspot’s first inclusion in the report, which also measures Clear Channel Online, Pandora, Westwood One, and ReplaceAds’ network. Targetspot aggregates more than 29 million unique site visitors within its network.
The following chart shows the adjusted comScore data from the top five companies in the Entertainment-Radio expanded category report ranked by largest audience:
Total Unique % Rank Name Visitors (000) Reach ----- ---------------------------------------------- -------------- ----- 1 TargetSpot - Adjusted Reach* 29,452 64% 2 WestWood One Partner Sites -potential reach 27,430 59% 3 ReplaceAds - potential reach 18,638 40% 4 PANDORA.com 12,556 27% 5 Clear Channel Online 9,164 20% * Based on adjusted numbers released by comScore on 3/10/10
Recently there was a piece in Radio Business Report (here) about the need for Internet radio to create an industry governing council that would coordinate a voice for the industry on certain topics. One of the mentioned topics is audience measurement. There are at present two companies providing measurement for Internet radio stations, and the methods vary significantly.
Interactive measurement standards
One of the greatest assets that Internet radio has is the fact that it is an online, interactive, highly measureable media. All of its audience is online and can be motivated to interact with the advertiser. Audience can be precisely measured, allowing for greater accuracy in campaign planning. Impressions can be measured and accounted for exactly as delivered, eliminating the need for posting.
This advantage is the key to acceptance of Internet radio. Educating research departments, buying departments, and advertisers about this advantage, and providing them with the language and tools to evaluate Internet radio from an informed perspective, may be a challenge, but trying to simplify it by making Internet radio look and smell like traditional broadcast radio is short sighted. Radio’s slice of the pie is shrinking – and certainly some of the reason for that is its lack of measureability. Internet radio should be sold, bought, and priced based on impressions delivered just like all other interactive media. The most precise measurement tools available should be used for this purpose.
Two Companies, two methodologies
Currently there are two companies measuring Internet radio – Comscore and AndoMedia. Arbitron purchases Comscore data and releases it under their own name (or brand). Comscore’s data comes from their panel based research on website usage. The sample is small – Comscore’s monthly panels of web users are often as small as 80,000 persons, but even if they are 100,000, 21% of those persons are streaming on a monthly basis (according to Arbitron’s Digital Radio Study). That means on a monthly basis they’re watching what about 20,000 persons are streaming. With a sample that limited, they’re going to be able to measure broad network listenership, such as to Yahoo Launchcast, or the entire CBSRadio streaming network. They can’t measure the audience of a standalone station or smaller network. They just won’t be able to get the qualifying intab for measurement. They also won’t be able to detail listening within any network to specific channels.
AndoMedia is a relatively new independant company that provides third party server based measurement to subscribing stations. Many large companies are subscribing to the data including CBS, Citadel, Katz, and Clear Channel. Data is converted into radio metrics such as AQH, Cume, TSL. It’s been a sticking point for Arbitron’s advocates that demographic definition is added to the raw AQH and Cume by using national format profiles that assign percentages to age cells and genders, and therefore it’s also an estimate. That is true. However, isn’t an estimate that is derived from actual server stats more reliable and preferable to an estimate that is not? I’ve spent hours with Radio buyers, supervisors and Research analysts who tell me it is.
Each methodology has pros and cons. One provides panel based data with the recognizable Arbitron name, and the other provides more precise station by station measurement from a Web 2.0 startup. Agreeing on a measurement methodology that can unify the message would benefit all of Internet radio.