Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Welcome To My Focus Group

Have a seat.  Make yourself comfortable.  I have a few questions for you.

1.  The next time your local NPR station goes into a pledge drive, please take a random hour and listen to them, with their seven to ten minute breaks begging for dollars.

After you've done that, tune to an AM news station like WCBS, KFWB, WSB or KOMO and spend the same amount of time with them.

Make note of the times you were tempted to tune out.  Do this in your vehicle, on your desktop computer and also on your smart phone.

What role did sharp teasers and engaging writing using power words have in keeping you listening?

Did the longer islands of content, followed by longer islands of things you didn't tune in for work better than more frequent, but much shorter breaks?

Was the experience the same on your analog radio, your desktop stream and the mobile phone?

2.  Now, listen to your own radio station's stream and other online offerings for three random hours in the same way on your desktop, car radio and smart phone.

Next, go to any of the MTV networks websites (my personal fav is and do the same thing with their various online offerings, show highlights with their brief video pre-rolls, exclusive on-line content which wasn't available online, and the full program with its four breaks in a half hour, first one :30, then :15, :30, :30, :15, and then :30, :30, :15, :30 and finally :15, :15, :30, :30 just before the final seconds of the show with a tease for tomorrow's highlight plus a final laugh.  The last commercial in each break includes a countdown timer telling me that my desired content is just seconds away.

Is the experience the same for you on your big screen as it is on your small ones?

What are your thoughts?

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours in a comment below.
  1. I find myself able to spend more time with the "give me 20 minutes" info news wheel than the longer pledge small talk on my phone whereas the chatty, lengthy pledge breaks don't seem as repulsive in the car compared to streaming on my phone.
  2. My experience with a 100% streaming simulcast of the typical FM music station is just as listenable for long periods on a desktop computer at work.  The tune outs for me occur with sloppy ad insertion techniques and repetitive online public service, promos and ads.
  3. On a mobile device I simply can't stay through a five to six minute commercial break and find the :30 second video spots only hold me when they are very compelling and entertaining.  :15's and :20's don't have to be as good to get me to stay for the content that first drew me in.
  4. What can we apply from this experiment to our online streams to at work listeners who want to hear their favorite station on their desktop? 
  5. Will a simulcast of that same programming work for mobile device streaming/podcasting users?
For most focus groups these days, you'd get paid $75 or more for your time and opinions.

This time, though, your premium is the potential of having bigger online audiences, driving revenue growth without cannibalizing your analog product.

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