Paul and Fred Jacobs are research and marketing gurus and owners of Jacobs Media. Recently, in addition to making names for themselves as consultants to public radio and rock radio stations, they’ve become experts in iPhones and custom apps for smartphones.
The two businesses are all about marketing. It’s still about about the audience, according to Paul Jacobs. Apps are more than a way to connect to a station’s stream, they create an engagement point with listeners. Apps are really a strategic marketing tool that enables a station to open up its brand to a mobile audience.
JacAPPS created the recently launched app for WEEI in Boston, and according to Jacobs, it’s the most robust and complex app that they have built, featuring content, scores and headlines, blogs, podcasts, and of course, a streaming player.
The jacAPPS radio app features artist and title information, one click stream access and an alarm clock function along with background/foreground play, station controls, and a rotating background panel that stations can easily control to create sponsorship opportunities. They’ve built about 140 apps for radio stations so far — for companies like Greater Media, Lincoln Financial, Entercom, Cox, NPR and EMF. They’re also working with some international companies.
In these days of little revenue growth, the app business has taken off for the Jacobs guys. Mobile strategy, more listeners, new revenue stream — and an average jacAPP costs $2k to $5k. Which makes me wonder what anyone is waiting for…
Boston sports fans have a new way to stay connected with their Sox and Pats, not to mention Celts and Bruins, with WEEI’s new iPhone app. Tim Murphy, Vice President/General Manager of WEEI.com says the new app gives fans a full 360-degree Boston sports experience right in the palm of their hands.
The application, designed by WEEI in partnership with jacAPPS, the mobile division of Jacobs Media, is the most complete sports radio and news application available for the iPhone. All content from WEEI Radio and WEEI.com is available in this application, including popular features like LIVE streaming, On Demand Audio, live local scores, WEEI.com blogs & columns featuring news and commentary from WEEI.com’s world-class team of journalists.
Impressive features include the ability to listen to live WEEI audio, while scrolling through news, scores and stories. Most iPhone streaming applications do not allow for multi-tasking on the device while streaming. On demand audio and video and a live streaming feature that allows the user to jump back 10 minutes and replay the audio are other standout features of this app.
“WEEI has been leading the digital shift in Boston Sports media since we made our initial upgrades in content and design back in August 2008,” Murphy said. “We’re convinced this new cutting-edge iPhone application will help us continue to dominate in the digital space.” Fans of Boston sports that do not have iPhones can still access WEEI streaming audio on their mobile device through Entercom’s partnership with Flycast.
WEEI’s a big station for Entercom, and they have diligently invested in tools and talent to enhance and expand their digital footprint with sports fans in Boston. An iPhone app makes a lot of sense as yet another way to brand and connect with their audience.
An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday points out that while Internet radio’s audience is growing, ad dollars are not growing at the same rate. Gordon Borrell, a local media consultant, points out that radio has been slowest of the traditional media to shift to online sales – taking only 2.4% of its overall revenue in online dollars, while television and newspapers see higher percentages (3.4% and 7%).
The reasons, according to the article, are that radio stations have been unable to charge enough for web commercials – advertisers are paying about half as much as they do for broadcast on a cost per thousand basis. That’s if they pay for it at all – according to the article many advertisers just see it as a sweetener to the broadcast deal.
I checked in with Tim Murphy, General Manager of Entercom’s successful WEEI.com who says it’s all about educating the buyers. “At Entercom Boston, and specifically WEEI, we have discovered that consumers will find world-class content through the distribution platform that is most convenient to them. Our focus, both for programming and sales, is to educate the media buyer that they can actually increase their reach & frequency against a hyper-engaged consumer by leveraging both streams as part of their advertising strategy.”
The WSJ article goes on to say that there is one exception to “how low can you go” pricing for streaming ads, and that’s Pandora, which one buyer said was actually 20% more expensive than broadcast radio spots in Los Angeles.
Let’s consider the value proposition that spots on Pandora, targeted to listeners in LA, offer an advertiser versus the same spots on a broadcast station’s stream in that market. On Pandora, the advertiser’s audio message will run between songs, not in a stopset with 2,3 or 4 other spots. It will be delivered to a registered listener – Pandora knows whether that listener is male or female, where they live and how old they are, so 100% of the advertisers impressions will be precisely in the advertiser’s demographic.
On the LA broadcast station or its stream, the advertiser’s message will run or be inserted over a broadcast spot, within a stopset with several other commercials. Demographic targeting will be based on format selection – but since all of those listeners are hearing the same programming, the commercials are delivered to everyone, not just the listeners in the target demographic.
There’s a much greater value proposition for advertisers on a station like Pandora and other online stations that control the number of commercials they air and offer targeting and other enhancements. If broadcast stations want to see pricing improve on their streams, they’ll need to start creating unique online programming and offering advertisers features such as targeting, interactive access to listeners and other cross platform enhancements.