Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Show Me Yours And I'll Show You Mine

This online database "perceptual" question was done by an A&O client in a PPM market. Now that they've identified the best marketing prospects for their morning show to email relevant listening appointments in their database, it will be fascinating to a) watch what they do that impacts daily regularity among these folks and b) if PPM is able to pick it up as well.

What percentage of the people in your loyal listener database listen to the radio every weekday morning?

If you managed to get the "lighter" radio users to use radio more regularly, would that have an impact on your cume?

They're in your database. What more can you do to impact their lives on a daily basis?

The Truest Words I Heard All Day Today

The ratings go up

1. It's the GM, CEO, CFO
2. It's the PD, MD, or new voice guy.
3. It's the Jox.
4. It's the secret sound contest we ran for a week.
5. It's the remote on Saturday done from a car dealer by the weekend person
where we gave away 3 T-shirts and 6 month old CD's from the prize closet.
6. We got lucky with the sample this month.
7. It's our new logo.

The ratings go down;

- It's the consultant
- It's corporate.
- It's the sales department.
- The music is weak.
- The news was bad.
- The weather was hot, cold, wet, or dry.
- The morning newsperson was on vacation.
- We got screwed with the sample this month.
- It's our new logo.

- Spoken by longtime exec and media guru Bill Figenshu as we celebrated a great trend for GM Patty Hixson, PD Mac Daniels and their entire Peak Broadcasting KSKS/Fresno team today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Promising Predictions

Beth Knobel:
  • The future of audio reporting is all about the content. Radio not only provides great reporting, but it's also a valuable editorial voice that helps listeners makes sense of the barrage of information that is raining down on us all these days.
  • Radio stations will continue to exist, but they will distribute their programming digitally, and use the money they now spend on over-the-air broadcasting on content creation instead.
  • The stodgy image of radio is changing, as radio stations use social media and other communication technologies to engage their audiences.
  • Radio stations are already moving aggressively into social media. Part of that effort includes obvious things like Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. But that's all going to expand even more, as stations benefit from new, innovative ways to send and receive information.

Imagine that you're on the bus going to work. As you pass a particular building, your phone asks you if you'd like to hear a radio story about an event that happened there.

Then you get a text on your phone from a different station asking you to write back if you're stuck in traffic. The station uses the information to create a real-time traffic map on its website.

Then a Twitter message asks, since it's the 8th day of the month, for you to vote on which of three composers' 8th symphonies you'd like to hear at lunchtime on the local classical music station.

This is the future of radio.

The Productivity Paradox

Digital marketing expert and CBC reporter Todd Maffin produced this thought-provoking video "awareness test:"

After watching it, ask yourself what you need to do to get attention and be remembered in this new environment?

Can radio help listeners manage their technology?

Or, will it manage us?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Getting To Know You (And Me Too)

A&O has been a member of Mike McVay's Advisor's Alliance for many years, offering our clients many additional resources. We love being able to turn to friends for advice as needed, as do our clients.

mike mcvay's talent tips

McVay is always thinking and challenging his associates, as this set of questions he just emailed to all of his consultants demonstrates:

What is the one thing that is universally concerning when you start a new relationship with a radio client?

JA: Establishing credibility and trust. Of course, it's impossible for someone you hire for their objectivity to get an honest and "can see the forest for the trees" view of your situation because they are an outsider who feels free to point out the things that "insiders" may not either be aware of or feel free to discuss to ever - by definition - be fully accepted as a company employee would. Nor, should they try to be. Thus, sometimes, being politically-incorrect within an organization can be a reason why a consultant is brought in. Doing so, and retaining trust and credibility can be a delicate balancing act.

Yet, the goal is to create long term success not just to shake things up. The more I can learn about the history and people involved and become a full partner, the more assistance I can be.

I work hard from the outset to strike that balance and understand exactly what the company that hires me wants from our relationship.

What has changed about the way you program today from the days when you started as a consultant?

JA: Once upon a time, the consultant would set the agenda as a detailed action plan and expect the client to do most of the work involved. Now, I actually have more backup and support from A+ people than many of the programmers and managers I work with!

Thus, we provide prep, assist with researching the audience if you have no other way to do it internally, coach, create, brainstorm, write and produce.

Though this change would not have been foreseen when I first went to work for Drake-Chenault in Los Angeles almost thirty years ago, I like the much more hands-on approach a lot.

It used to be that you'd meet, write a report and then move on, wondering if the client was executing your agreed-upon vision as well as possible. Now, I find myself much more involved on a daily basis and that is very gratifying, let alone being much more productive.

What are the three things that broadcasters should be focusing on ... that they're ignoring or unaware of?


1. The quality of our streaming content. A&O's "Roadmap 2011" national perceptual study of country radio core users are gravitating to our streams especially on their fast-growing use of mobile media and they are aware that the quality of online audio is inferior to what they hear on FM and AM. They want to use us more online, and find our poor quality control of streams an impediment to doing so.

2. Building authentic personal brands which execute consistently and creatively and thus enhance the station brand. Leverage them across all platforms. Your "position" is no longer what you claim you do, it's what you actually do in real time.

3. Focusing on what goes between the songs as much as on the quality of the music. In the 80's, air personalities were told to shut up and play the hits. In the last decade, we taught them that what we want from them is as many voice tracked hours in as little time as possible. Tomorrow's audience can get music with little or no talk in many places, and will remain loyal to radio only if we understand how important fresh, topical, relevant, well-written, tightly-edited content is as well.

You're viewed as a successful programmer ... what is the ONE thing that you're most proud of (to date) in your career as a broadcaster and consultant to the broadcast industry?

JA: Attending the annual Pre-Country Radio Seminar Country Radio Hall Of Fame induction ceremonies and seeing so many longtime friends and clients being enshrined in the Hall, based on work that we have done together. It's such an honor to be among the plaques hanging on that wall, surrounded by people who have been my heroes.

What would you like to be known for as a broadcaster?

JA: A mentor, an effective trainer and motivator.

What advice would you share with a 1st time program director who is entering your format of expertise?

JA: Listen. Thanks to streaming audio, it's now possible to hear every great radio station and personality in the world in real time. Don't become so busy in your daily life that you fail to listen carefully to the people you work with, compete with and admire.

Anything that you'd like to add?

JA: If you're good and want to get better, I'd love to get to know you. Call, txt (206-498-6261) or email me, especially if you have content you're proud of that you'd like to share.

PS - I'll be checking online to see what the other McVay Alliance members have to add from their perspectives as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Blowing Radio's Horn

David Lieberman's word this morning was "renaissance" and that's the only bone I have to pick with his good radio news article (click to read it).

Radio stations are receiving a surprisingly strong signal from audiences and the financial markets this year, even as they face intensifying competition from satellite and Web-based audio services including Sirius XM Satellite Radio XM and Pandora. An average of 241.6 million people 12 and older listened to conventional radio stations each week last year, an increase of 2.1 million over 2009 — and up 4.9% vs. 2005, according to an annual study that media and marketing research company Arbitron released Monday. "Radio is much stronger than the general perception of it has been," says Carol Hanley, Arbitron's executive VP of sales and marketing.

In spite of what you may have read or heard, radio's audience has been quite stable all along in spite of the many new media options that have been emerging for many years.

To have a "renaissance," you have to go away and come back and the only thing that went away was the perception of radio's power. It's nice to have that back and thanks to David for telling our story so well.

Thanks to Midwest Family/Springfield, MO market manager Rick McCoy for spreading this good news to A&O and you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Country's Age Target Is Only Part Of It

Inside Radio's item about the current attempt to present radio's powerful reach among "Alpha Boomers" reminds me of a similar effort made many years ago by all of the Golden West Broadcasters radio stations. They did tons of research (and I don't think anyone could have done it better than "the world's greatest radio station" owners) that proved how affluent and loyal to radio upper demos were, just like the current initiative.
With strong news and classic hits brands that attract high concentrations of the demo, CBS Radio is among the media companies trying to change outdated advertiser perceptions that this group consists primarily of silver-haired, shuffleboard-playing couples wearing Bermuda shorts. The company has been making Alpha Boomer presentations in all of its markets. “We’re walking into clients and agencies and showing them how this population of 50-64 year-olds is exploding and they’re so different compared to 30 years ago,” CBS Radio president of sales Michael Weiss says. “Their look and behavior is more contemporary, they take better care of themselves and their disposable income is much higher, particularly in the 45-64 year range.”

This is a great story for today's country, too, of course, which has been riding the boomer-driven age wave for the past three decades and the early 90's explosion for the format can partially be explained by the growth of 30-34 year olds in the population at that time...

.. and now is seeing Gen X's smaller proportion of the national population reflected in our aging average core audience as A&O's Roadmap 2011 indicates.

But, before we abandon hope for younger demos, take a look at the size of the "Taylor Swift generation" (also known as Gen Y/The Millenials).

Right now, they are centered in their young 20's, but in the next decade they will dominate 18-49 and 25-54 targets.

Hopefully, the 25 year old media buyers of today understand that demo well, perhaps better than we do, and are enjoying the values of country music radio.

Not only are they the ones we're hoping to sell our upper-demo story to today, but they will be the vanguard of our younger demo strategy of the coming decade.

As they get older, maybe their memory will fade, when we start pitching them on country's great 18-49 performance in just 5-10 years!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

If WikiLeaks Got Hold Of A&O’s Internal Emails

-----Original Message-----

From: Dan Vanlandingham (A&O Daily Prep Producer)

Subject: Cher

Doing a country music album. That will be interesting to hear. :)

Jaye Albright writes: NOT.

Michael O'Malley: Oy. Who's next? I know, Donald Trump. Flee for the hills!

Jaye Albright: Why is it every artist when their career ends everywhere else fails to listen to "Gone Country?"

Dan Vanlandingham: My guess on who's next: Lindsay Lohan doing a prison album :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pandora Wants What We Have

Does that mean we should want what they have?

A&O has been very proud to work with Peak Broadcasting's WOW 104.3 in building the very first country-format listener driven radio station which embraced the concept of "you drive" more than a year ago, and it's gone very well as the Boise rating trends have shown.

(Thanks to the hard work and great creative content by some amazing people.)

A very small percentage of core listeners love the fact that they control the playlist, and that's nothing new. Just ask anyone who's ever answered a request line.

Maybe that's why Cumulus and Clear Channel are both buying companies which hope to give Pandora a run for the money.

A quick two points from history to put these developments in perspective.

1. All request shows and DJ's who played all their favorites on demand pre-dated music scheduling software, which introduced the concept of well-researched music, carefully-balanced and rotated for maximum cume and time spent listening. The latter smoked the former and still does.

2. "Radio" at its best is so much more than music.

"Entertaining, compelling people will also get more response on Facebook, or at a party, or sitting in the stands at a ball game. Do anything with Facebook that you like. It's fine, but in the long run, it just doesn't matter. The Facebook world may be larger than the pool of people who call, but it's still a minority, and there's no proof that it makes them listen more. The overwhelming majority of listeners don't call, don't go to a station's Facebook page, don't go to many (if any) of a station's events, and rarely, if ever, go to a station's website. Stations that try to be at every event, instead of picking the biggest parade and getting in front of it, always expend a lot of energy but still lose. Stations that will expend tons of energy trying to ignite Facebook response will have the same results. The plain truth is that most people listen to the radio for companionship, for information (Traffic, Weather), or to be entertained. That's never going to change. The cure for all of radio's woes--every single one of them--is to hire more entertaining people to be on the air." - Tommy Kramer

Yeah, "Radio" has what Pandora wants.
No wonder Pandora's chasing US.

Let's not get lost chasing after Pandora.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Send This Message To Your Team Now

"Today would be a good day to listen to competitors, listen to their music (pull Media Monitors, BDS or Mediabase for last week), listen to their imaging, contesting, commercials and how their clocks are set up.

"Take a look at their websites and take a listen to their streaming product as well.

"Are you winning in all aspects?

"The Spring ARB starts in 14 days."

-- An email sent by one of the sharpest market managers I work with to his proramming and marketing people yesterday.

Monday, March 14, 2011

If "It Hasn't Happened Until The New York Times Reports It"...

.. then Scott Borchetta IS "The Boss!

I was fired from one job when I got too involved in the creative end. I was spending time on the road with the artists while the executives were staying in their offices. But you can’t stay in an office and know what’s going on in this industry; you have to be on the street and see what moves people.

I started Big Machine Records in 2005 because I thought I could run a record label more efficiently than I’d see others do. If you look at the people who started the big labels, they all gambled. The first artist I signed was Taylor Swift. I met her in 2004 when I was still at Universal. The Swift family sent me a package with a demo record, and I was fascinated. Shortly afterward, I signed Danielle Peck, who had been dropped by another label, and Jack Ingram, a Texas artist.

Not everyone in the industry would have taken a chance on a young female artist like Taylor. I was not getting calls from country radio stations saying, “Do you have any teenage female singers?” But I felt there was opportunity in country music for talented young women.

Congrats, Scott. A wonderful profile.

Country music is blessed to have you helping to guide us through these exciting times in our business.

Hot? Other Than Those Japanese Reactors?

The BIGresearch® Consumer Intentions & Actions® Survey monitors over 8,000 consumers each month providing unique insights & identifying opportunities in a fragmented and transitory marketplace and Phil Rist reports that it took all of that in their March 2011 (Respondents surveyed 3/1 - 3/8/11) to find out:

Three in five (60.3%) indicate that wearing green on March 17 is what’s hot this month…other timely favorites – Mardi Gras and March Madness – prove popular as well. Consumers prefer the Kindle eReader over Nook, while Groupon is a favorite deal-of-the-day site among women. Also according to women: 50s-era full skirts are in style among those 18-34, while the 35+ crowd feels more comfortable in Pajama Jeans®. What’s not? Eighty percent of consumers say the ladies’ high-waisted pant trend just isn’t groovy enough for contemporary closets.

Rising gas prices, the weak job market, and turmoil in Libya shake consumers’ already fragile confidence in the economy…in March fewer than one in three (29.1%) say they are very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, declining two points from last month (31.2%) and down slightly from Mar-10 (29.8%).

While the current figure is still an improvement from Mar-09 (19.5%), consumers are feeling far less optimistic compared to pre-recession Mar-07 (46.9%

More talking points:
  • Browse, don’t buy: Practicality inches upward
  • Consumers predict more pink slips, not paychecks
  • Fewer feeding piggy banks v. Mar-10
  • $3.83/gal pump price expected at end of month
  • Consumer Migration: Linens/Bedding/Draperies
  • 90 Day Outlook: Brightens from February, though down for key seasonal categories

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don't Focus Too Much On Switching

As my previous post demonstrates quite graphically, it's possible to improve your competitive position, depending on the time of day and day of the week somewhere between four and perhaps even more than 15% by understanding why your audience switches to other stations and when/why they switch from shared-cume competition to you.

It's also important to remember that PPM has helped us to see that there are four kinds of listeners which can impact your success:

1. Those who turn their radio on to you first.
2. Those who only leave you when they turn off their radio.
3. Those who switch to you.
4. Those who switch away from you.

Those first three are driven by brand expectations. Only the last one is driven by your formatics and execution.

The first two are your most loyal fans. Focusing too much on #3 and #4 means you're spending too much time catering to the least loyal listeners to you.

Since being top five in daily cume and also top five in daily time spent exposed is the primary success factor as demonstrated by PPM, you can't ignore any of those four audiences. Figure out and achieve the optimum balance between satisfying your core to get the most daily occasions/days per week regularity possible while constantly bringing new cume in as well.

MScore and PPM data are the science of that.

Achieving that proper proportion - as it always has been - is the "ART" of being a great talent or programmer.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Keeping (M)Score

Media Monitors’ ability to cross-reference what PPM panelists do with what radio does - on a minute by minute basis - is providing new ways to see and understand how the average person uses radio throughout the day.

For example, this chart displays the minute by minute “normal” switching average of all stations in the top 40 US metros across a statistically-typical weekday.

This chart shows a sliding four minute window (similar to the opportunities to switch during any song). Media Monitors then tallied all the switchers to another radio station (switch off is not counted) as a proportion of the average audience during these four minutes. The process was done and aggregated for all music stations in all these markets.

That is the black graph on the chart with its scale on the left axis.

Next to that, you will see the percentage of stations in these 40 markets that are in a commercial break at each minute, as one of the obvious correlation factors and for reference only.

This is plotted as a green shade on the chart with its scale on the right.

It's noteworthy that not as many people switch stations for commercials during the workday as do during the drivetime periods.

Since this 1% to 8% of the audience is leaving one station for another, when considered broadly, the well-programmed station often gains as much as it loses if not even more by careful placement of programming based on the behavior of their shared-cume competition and listeners, but the average is about 4% in and 4% out in the majority of minutes calculated.

The highest points in this switching, 7-8 am and 4-5 pm, likely occur because of these audience members changed listening location.

If you discovered your listeners doing that, what could you do to change that behavior?

Ready To Redo Your Metro Hot Zips Map?

As the Arbitron Affiliates Radio Advisory Council meets this week in Annapolis you can expect lots of announcements from the press room (like this one, today, on new metro definitions which will happen by the start of the Fall 2011 books).

"The new criterion for determining if a county qualifies to be in the Metro is based on a 70-point criterion, which replaces the 55 percent listening/15 percent commuting criteria that had been in place since 1998."

Another rumored topic at the meetings is whether to go to "average minute" audience estimates in place of the old "five minutes in a quarter hour = 15" editing rule in PPM markets, or at least to allow five minutes overlapping two quarter hours to count as a full 15, if not 30.

Meanwhile, in Canada, where BBM did go to "average minute" listening when it launched its PPM service, there are rumors that they are reconsidering that decision and may actually change back to "average quarter hour" because buyers proved unwilling to ignore what appeared to be "lower audience levels" in the average minute in spite of the fact that you can do the editing math for them and show that the estimated audience size actually remains the same, it's just the measurement and editing rules which changed.

Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.

Actually, as PPM has proven to many of us in both countries, you could get it even if you personally didn't wish for it...

Monday, March 07, 2011

Paul Jacobs Goes (A&O Pre-CRS Seminar) Mobile

.. and he was kind enough to bring a video version of Jacobs Media/Arbitron's research project showcasing how constantly drawn we all are to mobile devices, particularly smart phones.

He left us with this advice:

Radio simply must find a way to get into every one of them, and #3 is the way to do it immediately, while we wistfully dream of FM inside 'em at some time in the distant future, perhaps.

For more info, contact Jacobs Media.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Don’t Take This Advice

From CRS:

“Stop promoting your website, send listeners to Facebook where they can interact with you.” -Shelly Palmer

"Least listeners interest on radio station websites: DJ blogs, photos."
- Coleman Insights VPs Chris Ackerman and Sam Milkman

It was reinforcing to see the stats in the Coleman-CMA-CRS research project so closely replicate the national findings revealed Tuesday in A&O’s “Roadmap 2011” perceptual project. When two totally different research projects find the same things you know you’re getting pretty close to TRUTH and FACT.

And, Palmer is an inspiring new media example in his own life and personal career that his advice - designed to shake us out of the status quo - rings as valid as well.

However, it’s important also to remember that what goes between the songs is what defines your brand and commercial radio still makes billions of dollars from commercials, even as listeners also say they want more music and less talk.

So, since the only company who can monetize it if you abandon your website and drive your audience to Facebook is Facebook and telling the voices which humanize your brand and give it a face and a name to stop blogging and podcasting would halt the process of making money and building your brand on your multi-media portal just as radio is starting to grow that new business.

Don’t stop doing these things.

Improve them. Invest in them. Create something great so while the average radio listener sees no value in what the average radio station does, YOUR listener is drawn to your engaging, fresh, entertaining, micro-local, personal, interactive content like a moth to a flame.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Country Radio's Future

Edison Research's Larry Rosin showed the format-specific data, not broken out until now, from last fall's American Youth Study, comparing today's 12-24's with the same demo a decade ago from the country listeners this week at A&O's client seminar in Nashville. A&O clients can see all of his presentation graphics (pdf) here.