The Katz Online Network is growing, according to a newsletter sent out a few weeks ago to network affiliates and others. Sales and new advertisers are growing too, according to Scott Taylor, SVP at Katz360: “We are very happy with what we’re seeing for [the third] quarter. Retail stores are seeing dramatic growth, led by Savers, Walgreen’s, and Wal-mart. Lowe‘s leads our Home Improvement category, while RIngCentral headlines the Telecom category. New advertisers to Q3 already on the books include Allstate Insurance, ESPN, LearCapital.com, and Buffalo Wild Wings.”
In addition, according to Triton’s Webcast Metrics data, the Katz 360 Online Audio Network generated more than 380,000 Average Active Sessions per week (M-F 6a-8p) in May, up 66% from a year ago, with session starts more than doubled from a year ago.
In addition to emphasizing their expanding online audio network, Taylor points out that their display ad network, made up of the websites of their affiliate stations, delivers 50 million listeners. (Technically speaking, those listeners are not actually listening, the number represents the number of people visiting the websites of the radio stations.) It’s a big number, and it’s smart that Katz has moved in the direction of creating this customized network with comScore – no doubt it will enable them to better monetize that online inventory by gaining them notice and credibility with digital ad agencies.
Online radio industry magazine Radio Business Report recently polled key network radio supervisors around the country to get their perspective on the 2010 upfront. RBR’s Carl Marcucci asked each person to discuss their ad spends on streaming/digital media as well, and those answers were very upbeat.
Horizon’s Maja Mijatovic, who spends for Geico as well as other clients, gave the most positive feedback, saying her agency’s spend will be “much stronger than 2009. Sellers have been working diligently in providing interesting solutions which in turn peaked agency/clients’ interest. Overall bringing more accountability to the overall audio buy. Excellent job on the part of the sellers.” OMD’s Natalie Swed Stone noted that dollars from that shop will increase as it (Internet radio) “becomes more mainstream.” Kim Vasey of MediaEdge and Eileen Casey of Zenith both indicated that spending levels will increase to match a growing audience and more digital offerings.
I contacted Brian Benedik of Katz360, one of the firms responsible for developing Internet radio dollars at these agencies, to get his perspective on network radio dollars moving to Internet radio. He said they’re definitely seeing a move to invest more dollars into online radio. “They have seen the growth on the consumer side,… the emerging mobile audio consumption… It’s become more mainstream and they want their clients aligned with it,” says Benedik, adding that some network buyers who have been reluctant to put dollars into Internet radio earlier are influenced by what others are doing as well as by their clients’ interest.
Satellite radio and HD Radio did not fare so well in Marcucci’s poll. While some indicated that spends on satellite radio will remain the same next year, no one showed much interest in investing in HD Radio, with Swed Stone noting that it “hasn’t achieved critical mass.”
Internet radio has taken several giant steps this year, including arriving at a uniform standard for audience measurement that makes it easier for agencies to recommend it. At the same time, the medium benefited from the leap of streaming radio to mobile devices such as iPhone and Blackberry, increasing public awareness and interest, and grabbing the attention of advertisers and their agencies. Combined with years of groundwork, these factors have provided momentum that should help grow the flow of dollars to Internet radio.
Since they announced that they were planning to sell more audio ads, I’ve been wondering which Internet radio ad network Pandora would align themselves with. It certainly makes sense for them to partner with a network, and the choice of Katz 360 is a good one for Pandora. They already sell many cross platform opportunities that integrate display ads, mobile offerings, as well as audio ads, and Katz 360 has specifically marketed itself as more than just an online audio network.
In addition, Katz’ connections and expertise in traditional radio ad sales will enable Pandora to play in another sandbox – that of radio ad dollars. Pandora’s already been doing a pretty good job monetizing with interactive ad dollars. The Katz name, connections, and extensive list of broadcast stations streams have enabled them to successfully convert traditional radio advertisers to online radio advertisers as well, and this is no doubt appealing to Pandora.
The addition of Pandora is a huge win for Katz – and one that they were looking for, since their main competitor Targetspot includes CBS’s network with AOL, Yahoo and Last.fm; as well as Goom Radio and Slacker within its network.
While audience figures for Pandora have not been released yet, they did announce last spring that they would be measured by Ando Media’s Webcast Metrics, an audience measurement product that both Katz and Targetspot now use.