Mobile is changing the way we do things, and smartphones are changing the way we do mobile. Smartphone ownership has tripled since 2009 – close to a third of Americans 12+ own a smartphone.
What’s really interesting to note is what smartphoners are doing with their devices. According to the new Arbitron/Edison Infinite Dial Study, 40% browse the Internet several times a day or more. 14% play games. 8% watch video. 8% listen to Pandora. While the most popular activity remains talking on the phone, texting is gaining fast, and other activites are growing.
Folks are looking for ways to use their smartphones and platforms that are well suited are the big winners. 27% of smartphoners use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, a number that jumped 34% in a year. Sites and activities that are well positioned in the mobile game are winning audience big time: Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Twitter.
The media landscape is changing. Mobile, and in particular smartphone usage is revolutionizing media delivery, use and expectations. And the pace of change is phenomenal. Are you thinking about ways to make mobile happen for your platform?
Last week Forrester Research released a new study Understanding the Changing Needs of the US Online Consumer 2010. It’s a deep survey that interviewed more than 30,000 US consumers about their media habits. Highlights include:
- High speed Internet connections are the norm, with 91% of the population connecting online through broadband.
- Time spend with TV and Internet are now equal. Americans spend an average of 13 hours per week on each. Time spent with the Internet is up 121% since 2005.
- Time spent with radio (not online), newspapers and magazines is dropping.
The study looked at a variety of online behavior and categorized certain activities as “mass appeal” or not. After email use, which has been adopted by 90+% of the population, shopping online is the most widely popular online activity – in 2007 about one-third of the population was doing so, by this 2010 study more than 60% of respondents shop online . Social networking is the next most popular activity reaching 62 million US Adults. Other activities such as blogging, listening to streaming audio, and IMing are engaging less than one third of the population and will never be mass appeal, according to the study.
Although the study also notes the growing popularity of Internet use with texting and email leading the list of popular activities. Interestingly, despite the fact that listening to music online was basically sidelined by the study as an activity that will never be mass appeal, this chart shows that mobile online listening to music doubled its audience 2007 to 2008 and again 2008 to 2009. Only social networking equaled that rapid growth.
Online music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify appear to be driving interest in online in-car audio, according to new data from Vision Critical. In an online survey among a representative sample of 4000+ online consumers in the United States, Britain and Canada, the survey found that one-in-four drivers in the United States, Britain and Canada regularly play personal digital music through their car stereo system, and more than 50% are interested in doing so.
Broadcast radio is still the dominant source of audio in the car, more than three quarters of respondents in all three countries had listened to broadcast radio in their cars in the past week. What’s more, numbers indicating an interest in listening to digital audio should not be interpreted as a threat to that. Digital audio sources may well replace listening to cassettes and CDs says the survey.
Young men were the most interested in listening to digital audio in their cars, so stations offering streamed formats that appeal to that demographic will see the earliest benefits of in-car listening to mobile streaming.
Comparisons among listening in the US, UK and Canada are interesting. Streaming audio programs in cars in Canada, where royalty rates are considered too high for entry by Pandora and Spotify. Without them to drive interest, listening is growing more slowly than in the US and UK where Pandora and Spotify, as well as other services, have thrived.
Broadcast business solution provider Marketron timed their announcement that they purchased mSnap to hit during the Radio Show last week. With all the buzz about mobile at the show, it was good thinking. Marketron, owned by Wicks, is a powerhouse in the broadcast radio business solutions marketplace – last week separate employees of the company were telling me that their market share is 70 or 80%.
Marketron’s been focused on integrating their platform, which provides tools to broadcasters for scheduling, tracking, inventory management and billing, with other solutions providers that enable new types of inventory, including streaming and mobile. Earlier this year they announced a partnership with AndoMedia to facilitate the scheduling, delivery and billing of broadcasters’ streaming assets.
The mSnap acquisition enables companies to sell and fulfill both mobile and broadcast assets in the same single, integrated platform. This will eliminate the operational complexity of managing the sale of diverse advertising assets through multiple systems and processes.
“Mobile is one of the fastest growing advertising segments in our industry and mSnap has established itself as an innovative leader in the category,” said Mike Pallad, Executive Vice President of Sales for Citadel Broadcasting. “The acquisition of the company by Marketron, which offers a host of cross-channel solutions for media companies, will increase mSnap’s capabilities and development. We’re proud of our partnerships with Marketron and mSnap and look forward to the benefits this merger will offer our stations and advertisers.”
This is a really wise move for Marketron, one that will benefit them and their clients as well as the industry as a whole. Tools that make it easier for broadcasters to manage their inventory will inevitably increase the value of those assets. As broadcasters adopt revenue strategies that include more and more diverse inventory sets, smart platforms like this make that inventory manageable, trackable, and therefore more valuable.
(In the interest of full disclosure, which I believe the bloggers in our industry need to be more respectful of, I have done some consulting with Marketron in the past.)
Pandora, the darling of the US online radio marketplace, recently rolled out genre stations – format based listening channels that enable fans to simply choose a channel and listen to a professionally programmed stream of music. The channels have been in the background for a while but have recently been given more prominence online. Apparently, Pandora is finding out that some listeners want the simple option. Interactivity may be too much work for some listeners.
“I think there’s a huge percentage of the population that will always love what the Pandora brand stands for, which is an approach where you start with some artist names and song votes and build your own channel.” says Kurt Hanson, Founder and CEO of AccuRadio, an Internet radio service that offers channels that emphasize professional programming and some, but less interactivity. “But there’s another segment of the market — an older segment, more mainstream — that will prefer an approach that doesn’t take as much effort.”
A factor that may be driving Pandora’s new promotion of “genre stations” is the prospect of Internet radio in cars. Pandora has b een leading the industry into automobiles, announcing deals with Ford, Pioneer and Alpine this year. In car listening is the final frontier for Internet radio – the place where broadcast radio dominates and lots of folks tune in. It remains a huge untapped potential for audience growth for Pandora and other Internet radio stations.
About 20 percent of people with smartphones use their device to listen to music in their cars by connecting them to vehicle speakers, according to new info from J.D. Power and Associates. The 2010 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study also found that more than 40 percent of smartphone owners would like to do so in the future.
In keeping with what would be a logical assumption that smartphone owners are highly interested in connectivity, the study found that their interest levels for wireless connectivity systems in cars are higher than the industry average, both before and after price is revealed. Before price is revealed, 77 percent of smartphone owners indicate interest in wireless connectivity systems for their vehicles, compared with the industry average of 64 percent.
Texting, receiving emails and getting directions are the other activities that smartphone owners use their devices for in the car. Systems and apps that enable them to use their phones more easily to perform these functions – such as a sound system that easily docks or connects with a device, an app that easily connects to a dash, or a program that reads emails aloud – are growing in popularity among this segment of the population.
In car listening is a critical touchpoint for radio, making these findings important to stations interested in providing offerings – both in terms of content and technology – that keeps these listeners happy and engaged.
There were many highlights in the full day of programming presented at RAIN Summit West last monday during the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Two research studies were presented that provided excellent data on Internet radio and digital audio’s growing audience.
Radio Futures 2010 is an independantly funded study on audio platforms and usage in the US, UK and Canada done by Vision Critical. Senior VP and Managing Director Jeff Vidler presented the study, which makes a strong case for the future of Internet radio in the US. Nearly a quarter of the respondents (22%) indicated that Internet radio is playing a bigger role in their lives in the past couple of years.
When asked to list the features of online services that are most appealing to them, 53% said streaming songs on demand was most important, followed by radio with customizable features such as selecting and deselecting artists. Radio that streams music mixes designed by music experts was the least popular feature with listeners.
Also of interest, smartphone users are more likely to use a web based app to listen on their device than a broadcast service on the same device. 31% of smartphone users in the US listened on a web only app, while only 19% tuned in with a broadcast radio app on their smartphone, causing the study to conclude that IP delivery is a preferred audio platform for mobile smartphone users.
Finding and listening to all that Internet radio has to offer on your iPhone just got easier with the new iPhone app Spark Radio. Spark Radio is a premier radio app for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch that features cool animations and more than 10,000 global station choices.
Spark Radio was built by Handcast Media and uses the RadioTime portal to provide access to more than 10,000 streaming stations worldwide. Listeners can search and stream what they want, whether it be music, talk radio, sports events, public radio or special programming from around the world. An elegant interface and program guide make it easy for users to quickly find their favorite stations by searching for stations or programs by keyword, location or the station URL and can browse programming by genre or location.
“The Spark Radio app is a beautiful and fun radio application that opens the world’s selection of music programming that only radio can provide,” said Bill Moore, CEO of RadioTime, Inc. “RadioTime makes it easy for Spark Radio users to find their favorite radio stations and discover new ones from wherever they are.”
Especially innovative are features such as a GPS component that allows listeners to find local stations in any given city based on current GPS coordinates; and the interactive social media features. Users can create a profile and see what other users are listening to using a Globe Navigator. They can share and discover stations, rate them and see who else is listening to the station they are streaming.
The app also enables multi-tasking on the iPhone while listening, a feature that is somewhat unique among iPhone streaming apps.
Handcast Media Labs is located in Minneapolis and is dedicated, according to their website, to creating the best interactive graphics applications for iPhone.
Streaming services have seen great success with their mobile applications and with the mobile ad marketplace beginning to rev up, mobile streaming ad campaigns are becoming an important element of a station’s revenue strategies.
Recently Targetspot, a streaming ad technology and sales company, launched a new mobile advertising ad platform and will sell ads for Slacker’s mobile service on iPhone, Android and Blackberry smartphones. Other stations and services are seeing a growing demand for mobile streaming campaigns as well.
Pandora’s VP of Audio Sales Doug Sterne says Pandora has recently started serving audio ads to their mobile audience as well — and more and more advertisers are interested, either because they’re already engaged in mobile ad strategies specifically, or want to expand their reach further into the Pandora listener base. Mobile listeners add another 8 million active uniques to Pandora’s audience.
Stations working with mobile ad serving platforms Flycast and Airkast can sell and deliver mobile audio campaigns as well. Both services work with an extended list of stations, enabling them to sell their own campaigns. Flycast also offers some network level sales opportunities.
Targetability within mobile ad platforms can vary – Targetspot’s platform can deliver mobile ads to Slacker’s mobile audience by device as well as by registered user information such as age, gender, and zipcode. Pandora delivers their mobile ads based on registered user information as well. Flycast enables stations and advertisers to target mobile ad campaigns by device, age, gender, geo, and format.
Airkast, using AndoMedia ad insertion technology, has the additional capability to target using gps based data on where the listener is – so a listener that’s in the vicinity of a Home Depot can be served that particular audio ad.
As far as cpms, Sterne says they’ll have to see whether the marketplace is willing to pay more for mobile audio impressions – but right now they’re priced the same across web and mobile platforms.
U.S. subscribers owning smartphones grew from 11 percent to 17 percent of total U.S. cell phone users in 2009, and mobile ad dollars are exploding, making mobile audio ad solutions a key element for any successful streaming station.
- Music in the lives of kids has increased to more than two and a half hours a day since the last study.
- Among 15- to 18-year-olds, just under half (45%) say they have ever listened to the radio through the Internet.
- On an average day, an 8-18 year old spends 32 minutes listening to music online, 32 minutes on (broadcast) radio.
- They dedicate the same portion of listening time to Internet radio as they do to broadcast radio (23%).
The main conclusions of the study focus on the fact that young people’s lives are “filled to the bursting point with media,” as they pack nearly 11 hours of media content into 7.5 hours per day (thanks to multi-tasking). According to the study, “The transformation of the cell phone into a media content delivery platform, and the widespread adoption of the iPod and other MP3 devices, have facilitated an explosion in media consumption among American youth.”
You can read more about the study at RAIN.