Friday, February 15, 2013

TSL - The Big Challenge Ahead


As more and more tempting alternatives come pouring into the audience's smart phones, dashboards, tablets and computers terrestrial radio listening continues to hold a reach of 92% of the population weekly.  Ahh but what about time spent listening?  So far the 2012 analysis by Arbitron seems to indicate Radio is holding fairly steady.   But, we all know that TSL is likely going to be the real battle field for the audience's time spent with music and audio entertainment.   All of these music and entertainment options have to cut into Radio's TSL sooner or later.

TSL is very tough to analyze for the whole industry and across all the formats now.  The advent of PPM measurement in the top 50 markets has changed the data dramatically.  We really can't compare the old TSL levels of the diary with PPM's huge volume of tracking data.  Meanwhile we still have lots of 50+ markets that still live in a diary world.  This makes tracking this data across the whole radio landscape nearly impossible.  Even though this 'money ball' data may be impossible to quantify it is still the driving force behind AQH, Ratings and market share.

Much like 'Money Ball' programmers have taken on all levels of data analysis and implemented a number of programming 'tricks' to try and move the magic TSL needle.  Moving the stop sets, billboarding, laying in commercial free blocks, gaming the editing systems for diaries and meters, and appointment listening are some the tools we've tried and still implement today.  But, will they really work as the choices expand from 30 stations on your car dashboard to thousands of streaming stations, podcasts, mp3 playlists and custom built streams?

Over the next 4 weeks as you gear up for the Spring book, or continue your 52 week marathon of ratings measurement let's take a look at the tools we use and perhaps a few we could be using to build more TSL.

We'll start next week with a look at the first 'tricks' programmers used and then progress to the newer tools that we are still developing today.  Next week - moving the stop sets the early days.    I hope you'll tune in and spread the word to fellow programmers and radio pros.

Thanks As more and more tempting alternatives come pouring into the audience's smart phones, dashboards, tablets and computers terrestrial radio listening continues to hold a reach of 92% of the population weekly.  Ahh but what about time spent listening?  So far the 2012 analysis by Arbitron seems to indicate Radio is holding fairly steady.   But, we all know that TSL is likely going to be the real battle field for the audience's time spent with music and audio entertainment.   All of these music and entertainment options have to cut into Radio's TSL sooner or later.

TSL is very tough to analyze for the whole industry and across all the formats now.  The advent of PPM measurement in the top 50 markets has changed the data dramatically.  We really can't compare the old TSL levels of the diary with PPM's huge volume of tracking data.  Meanwhile we still have lots of 50+ markets that still live in a diary world.  This makes tracking this data across the whole radio landscape nearly impossible.  Even though this 'money ball' data may be impossible to quantify it is still the driving force behind AQH, Ratings and market share.

Much like 'Money Ball' programmers have taken on all levels of data analysis and implemented a number of programming 'tricks' to try and move the magic TSL needle.  Moving the stop sets, billboarding, laying in commercial free blocks, gaming the editing systems for diaries and meters, and appointment listening are some the tools we've tried and still implement today.  But, will they really work as the choices expand from 30 stations on your car dashboard to thousands of streaming stations, podcasts, mp3 playlists and custom built streams?

Over the next 4 weeks as you gear up for the Spring book, or continue your 52 week marathon of ratings measurement let's take a look at the tools we use and perhaps a few we could be using to build more TSL.

We'll start next week with a look at the first 'tricks' programmers used and then progress to the newer tools that we are still developing today.  Next week - moving the stop sets the early days.    I hope you'll tune in and spread the word to fellow programmers and radio pros.

Thanks

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alternative Returns to NYC and Chicago.


A year ago Randy Michael's Merlin Media looked like it had a very interesting plan for FM News and some great tools to work with.  Randy's built some impressive News and Talk properties and so many consultants and researchers have been nearly assuring the success of FM spoken word formats for the last 10 years. You'd have to think this would work.   Also factor in the POTUS election with tons of story lines and campaign news to cover as well as local issues, congressional elections, health care, the economy and so many more big stories -- you clearly had plenty of content, even if there are 4-5 competitors in the field here.

You also had the new campaign spending rules that allowed unlimited spending from the Super PACs and given that there are estimates of over 300 million raised and the prediction that campaign spending will surpass a billion dollars this year.   Only one problem here - Illinois and  New York are solid Democratic states.   The GOP has nothing to gain spending a dime in either state - same for the Democrats as Obama has a huge lead in both states.   The other market is Philly and there they keep News on FM - at least this could be a swing state.   In the end News, Talk and Spoken word seems to still have a place mostly on AM in the radio format landscape.  Perhaps it will change, but it seems like the cards were stacked for it to happen and even with Randy's abilities and resources we are back to music formats for Chicago and New York.

The big opportunity here is to build an Alternative station for New York.  This is a huge opportunity, but one that somehow seems to never live up to it's potential.  NYC only has one station that could be considered in the rock arena - WAXQ - Q 104.3.   It's a very unique Classic Rock station that is very tied to the NYC scene of the 70s.   Artists that many CR outlets have left to the soft ACs years ago still live here - Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Elton John are all a big part of the mix on Q104.3.   You also have the early punk/new wave era of the early 80s with the Talking Heads, Ramones and others from an era when the club scene in NYC had more rock opportunities.  Mostly Q 104.3 is really a station aimed at the 45+ listener and leaves much of the 18-40 year old demo without any form of a rock outlet, unless they pull in signals from New Jersey or maybe upstate NYC.

While the hole is big for the music - it's been there for a long time and a number of stations have taken swings at this pitch over the last 15 years with no one getting much more than a single.   While some of the failure may have been not finding a music mix that really fit all the uniqueness of NYC there are also other challenges when you build any radio station that can't be ignored in markets like NYC and Chicago.

1. Social Media - Twitter and FB are huge keys to getting the word out here.  These are huge markets and you need over 100K in likes to move the needle.  Where is the big launch contest for either to gather Likes in NYC.  You could have signed on with tons of I Pads to hand out or other easy to gather prizes and linked up with a one of the FB Apps to give them away.   How about doing some creative Twitter tweets to get trended here.

2. Sell the Music - The imaging and the whole personality of New Rock 101.9 should be about bringing New Rock to NYC.  But with no one to intro it or sell it or no events to catch it live in the clubs and on the street - it's just a bunch of songs.   Most of the fans have that on their phones, and I pods - go beyond the jukebox from day one.   Or at least do a bunch of imaging that sells the new music.   They are tagging the songs but they could and should do more.  If you are not excited how do you expect the audience to get excited?

3. Get some Personalities - You don't need Howard to come back - that would probably ruin the music side of the station - but you need to bring in some known entities or a group that you can build into authentic air personalities pretty soon.   This is the home of big stars and big names in the big city.

The Chicago launch by using the old TV 6 frequency 87.7.  Why didn't they move it all to the 101.1 frequency where Q 101 has always been?  Why launch an experimental Adults Hits approach on 101?  Are there issues with the Q101 name still being with Emmis or is there something with the Q101 website holding on to the name is some way?  It's going to be an up-road climb for Q87.7 with the frequency confusion and they also need to build in the basics here.  Chicago does have more competition than NYC.  Q101 was fairly successful 10 years ago, but little by little they seem to fail to consistently build a strong bond with the market.  They also wandered musically.  Lots of challenges here - are all of them necessary?

Right now Alternative is a hot format musically.  New ground breaking acts are emerging, there are crossover songs in CHR and there is unique pop quality to the music that sounds new and fresh.  Especially in comparison to all the Idol/Pop and Diva Queen songs that have had the spotlight for over 3 years now.

The opportunity is ripe for the format in both markets, but it will take more than just playing the songs.  The usual 10,000 in a row is not the way to launch in NYC or Chicago if you want to impact a crowded music landscape.  Even if you have a pretty wide hole to shoot at - you still need to make a full impact.   Good luck to Jim Richards and Randy on their launches - both have all the brains and skills to pull it off - but it will be challenging.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Overview Part 2 - What Facebook Posts are Getting Reactions


Last week in our 5 month summary thoughts on the 25 Radio Stations in our Facebook 'Focus Group' we looked at their growth in fans, reactions to Time Line,  and overall patterns in the growth of activity since the first of the year in the interactions with the fans/audience.   Really there is a lot of progress to report at a number of the stations in our group.


So what posts are really standing out?   Here are some observations: 

  • Station Liners are pretty much a waste of time.  Plugging that you will do another Hi Low game in 20 minutes might show up on a few newsfeeds, but don't expect much activity.  Station 'plugs' only work if you have a HUGE event.  For example KISS in LA did get some healthy activity in announcing their Wango Tango summer concert and no doubt will see good results as they promote it more in their posts.    Most station posts are not that big and don't seem to do much other than reduce your 'talking about' metrics.  You can also find that the fans get tired of the 'hype' in their newsfeed.   When that happens and they ignore it you will come up less in the future, they could also decide to unlike you, or they could shift your status to 'hide posts' and you are off the grid.  
  • Polls and Questions.  Unless they are HUGE topics this is another topic you would think would generate more interest and just doesn't.  Asking which Oreo cookie they like and the other often trivial polls and questions we see just doesn't get them to click the mouse. 
  • Pics and Links.  Linking to a big or interesting story, posting a really interesting, shocking, clever, cute or sexy pic draws the biggest reaction.  
  • Music News - This can be effective, but it has to either be something buzz worthy or it has to be an artist that is so huge right now that everyone's gonna at least 'bat an eye.'  Still for most music stations posting Music News does fit the audience and the fans - it should be an 'expected post' from your personalities.   The key is to make it personal - not just a link to a song or a video. 
The real 'test' for most posts lies in 3 BUTTONS.  Press one of them and you will start to get a reaction and engage the fans. 

  1. The Emotion Button - This can be the BIG button.  Just look at the posts from WGCI on Woman who gave birth weeks after dying or the tribute to Lisa Lopes on the anniversary of her death - both were around 3,000 likes and tons of comments.  Another example was a Confederate Flag prom dress that was banned at Project 961 in Atlanta  Life and Death stuff really hits home if you handle it right.   
  2. The Sexy Button - This works more on Male stations than Female formats, but it clearly works in both.  Of course the key is to make it tasteful enough to fit your audience.  
  3. The Cute, Fun, Clever, Shocking Button - Perhaps the easiest button to press on a daily basis.  There are many trends on Facebook in this area.   Some that popped up on our monitors: 
    1. Animals - Any post with a cute dog, cat or other furry friend and usually a clever poster phrase on it is ALWAYS worth a bunch of shares and likes.  You can see a few below: 
    2. Hump Day - Again for male stations, but posting a somewhat sexy girl of the day pic on Wednesday/Hump day usually draws the core rock audience out. 
    3. Funny Signs/articles etc.  This is often Leno's Headlines bit in some form and nearly always gets a decent reaction.  
    4. Star Pics- Pics of celebs with unique quotes or phrases is also a big share item.  See Keith Richards below
    5. This Is What I Do - The 6 panel pics with images of various jobs and what various people think of the job is another example of a popular trend.  It's mostly run it's course now but in Feb-April it was a fresh style of post that hit a lot of newsfeeds.  Staying on top of what is trending here is crucial - just make sure you are 'picking hits' here and not just adding everything. 


In the end I see 3 questions/observations about your posts that will help you make a lot more effective posts with the fans. 
  1. Be Authentic - Any posts that look like Hype, begging, or out of sync with the general trends within the audience will turn into junk quickly.   Knowing what your audience is into is crucial here.  
  2. Can They Join IN?  - Is this a post that will:
    1. Get them to hit Like - because it's entertaining or facinating? 
    2. Is it an opportunity for conversation and engagement? 
    3. Is it something they might share with their friends?  
  3. Be Active - If you are only going to post a couple of times a week or just have the Morning Show put out a summary of their best bits at 10a you won't crack the newsfeed for a lot of your most active fans.  Not only do you have to have enough engaging posts to crack the news feed you also have to get their attention as it's scrolling past.  
Social Media is a great marketing tool for Radio on so many levels.  We already generate tons of engaging content on-air for our audience.  While many brands struggle with Social Media because they just don't have the content or the time to really engage with the audience.  Radio brands have audience engagement built right into our foundation - it is what we are.  The keys are entertaining or engaging posts and enough of them to cut through the clutter and all the personal fun going on in Facebook or Twitter. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Overview - Facebook Radio Report Card - Last 5 Months


After reviewing the activity of our Radio Facebook Focus Group of stations over the last 5 months there are some interesting trends, realities and observations that we should all look at.  Building brands and your station with Social Media is very much a work in progress.  We are all very new at it and have a lot to learn.

  • Growth in Fans/Likes - The average station in our focus group grew 10% in fans from Mid-February to the first week in May.  If everyone can keep moving at that pace for the rest of the year the average growth would be around 25%.  
  • Older leaning stations are growing slower - While this may be expected as there are more younger users of Facebook and Social Media in General -- but the difference IS striking.  Look at Z100 and Lite 106.7 in NYC.  Both are strong ratings performers with large cumes - Z100 is around 220,000 fans while Lite is under 12,000.   Perhaps the older leaning stations have not found as many ways to engage  their audience or a way to integrate Social Media into their programming.  
  • More People are Talking about radio posts  - On average we are seeing growth in the 'People Talking About' Facebook Metric on all the stations in the focus group.  While we would need to track this on a daily basis to get a complete picture just dropping in and taking a random sample of the metric we see an average of  20-25% growth.  This is proof that we are learning to engage the audience a lot more in Social Media.  But, wouldn't you reason that with that much growth in 'talking about' that we would see more of their friends joining our likes?  If the average FB member has 250 friends and KQRS has 11,000 of their fans 'talking about' KQ's posts today that's a total/gross reach of 2.7 million.  With nearly 1/3rd of their total FB fans talking about them means their posts are really cutting through.  But, why doesn't their Fan base grow faster?  
  • More are commenting, liking and sharing the posts - While some stations have more success here we are seeing many posts from the bigger market stations in our focus group top 1K in likes and comments on some posts.  Sharing is also up, but not as much as the interaction from likes and comments.  Think about this with our 'old system' of interacting with the audience on the phone.  If we got 20 or 30 calls on anything we'd think it was 'trending.'   Here we see hundreds to thousands of responses.  
  • Time Line HAS changed the Game - When we first started tracking the stations in December 2011 Timeline was just starting to hit the personal pages and didn't really hit the Brand/Station pages till April.  The most important change we saw on our news feed and in looking at the brand pages is that posts don't last long on your brand page.  With the bigger picture, the members comments box, recent activity you end up with only 5-6 posts.  For many stations that is around a day of posts and for some even less.  While Timeline may be good for some users it's not good for Radio as we can pull together quite a bit of content -- after all our job is to engage and entertain an audience.  
  • Time Line's 'history' feature is not very effective for our brands.  In fact do we really care what any brand may have posted last month or a year ago?  Or when they joined Facebook?  We are forced to have this on our brand pages - for what? 
Next week we'll take a look at the most effective posts and what IS getting audience reaction.  


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Facebook Radio Report Card - 4-26-12


This is turning into an interesting week for content and postings on Facebook from our 'focus group' of 25 active stations in a variety of music formats.   In 4 months of tracking we have seen weeks when stations grew their likes and built more comments and likes on posts.  We've also see some weeks where sharing was up.  This week we really don't have any 'huge' topics that seemed to be generating lots of reaction.  No huge new music releases this week - last week we had a lot more comments and posts on music.  No big gossip or news this week and really no big events on TV or in Movies that were big topics.  Many posted on Obama slow jamming the news and the news that teens where trying to get a buzz on hand cleaners - but without much reaction.

The 2 biggest reaction posts show how Facebook works best at uniting a community and how radio can build the bonds between it's audience on Social Media.  Two huge posts came out of WGCI in Chicago and the topics showcase them bonding with their audience in a very human and touching way:

Top Likes From Posts:

  1. 3,047 Likes  WGCI Chicago - Brain Dead Mom Gives Birth to Twins - Done over 2 posts 
  2. 2,828 Likes   WGCI Chicago - 10 Year Anniversary of Death of Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes - 2 posts
  3. 595 Likes - Project 961 Atlanta - Hump Day Female Model pic
  4. 422 Likes - Q95 in Indy - Pic of Face in a Shadow - do you see it below. 
  5. 376 Likes WGCI Chicago - Beyonce Is People's Most Beautiful Woman 
  6. 337 Likes KQRS Minneapolis - Solider 'Britney' returns after duty and ready to rock on KQ
  7. 331 Likes WEBN Cincy - Free Gas Card contest
  8. 262 Likes Science finds most beautiful girl in stats. 
  9. 257 Likes KQRS Minneapolis - Pic of Fat Cat weighing over 40 lbs. 
  10. 227 - Likes - Alice Cooper and Steve Carell pics - see below 
  11. 212 Likes Z100 NYC - DJ Card - all songs with Pitbull see below.
Top Comments from Posts: 
  1. 656 Comments  Project 961 Atlanta - Girl banned from Prom with Confederate Flag dress - see below
  2. 534 - Comments on Science and the most beautiful girl
  3. 165 - Team gets the job done - see below
The top shares went to the Fat Cat with 120 shares - not a lot of sharing going on this week. 

You can see the audience activity is growing week by week with more likes and stronger comments when you have the right material in the posts that really grabs the audience in some way.  

Also note in WGCI posting pattern here that they very often take a topic or post and do it a couple of times over a 24 hour period.  Consider how fast the News Feeds often update and how soon you can see a post fall to the bottom of the feed and not get noticed by the people who just check a couple of times a day.  Also note that on your Time Line page (which is all you have now) you can see a post just fall off after a day or two and then you skip to last month or posts from long ago.  Posting a couple of times when you have something that is hot is important.  With the new world of Facebook moving faster you need to adapt if you want to stay on their News Feed and be on your Time Line page.   






Friday, April 20, 2012

Facebook Radio Report Card 4-19-12


Greetings and welcome to this weeks Report Card on the 'Focus Group' of 25 very active Radio Stations in a variety of music formats tracking their posts on Facebook over the last 3 days (4-17 to 4-19-12).  The overall posting trends revolved around a few events this week including:

  • Dick Clark's passing drew a number of posts from AC, Classic Hits, and some Rock stations.  
  • Clear Channel outlets had a number of posts promoting specific artist channels on I Heart radio that seemed to be coming from a central post scheduling system.  In CHR-Rhythmic stations they were pushing a Drake stream.  In Country Brantley Gilbert's channel.  In Rock a channel around Soundgarden with their new release this past week and for AC a Jason Mraz feed.  It increased the number of "Music" posts by a big margin. 
  • The recent 'study' that claim we could save 7 billion by legalizing marijuana was also posted by a number of rock stations with considerable comment levels.   
Here is a breakdown of the post categories over the 3 days with 268 posts tracked: 

Station Liners - 13%
Pics, News, Links, - 38%
Music news/links - 32%
Contests - 8%
Polls-Questions - 7%

Posts with the most Likes: 
  • Meth and Elmo - pic below - 647
  • Keith Richards poster - 532
  • Sean's Mom passes from WDVE pic tribute post - 530
  • Home Depot aisle sign - pic below - 330
  • Pitt Penguins not out of it yet poster - 391
  • Pic of Sign - Zombies can't swim buy a boat - 262
  • Tribute to KINK announcer Les Spanoff on anniversary of passing - 262
  • Pic of Woman sitting on big tree stump - big wood - 260
  • Cat drifting in pool in a box - poster - 237
  • Text Message need a dictionary - 232
  • Baby poster - see below - 221
  • MTV played videos - see below - 190 
Most Comments
  • Sean's Mom passes at WDVE - 569
  • Is this pic a 'butt' or is it 'cleavage' - 132
  • Zombies can't swim - 95
Top Shares
  • Keith Richards poster - 272
  • Pitt Penguins poster - 151
  • Meth & Elmo - 150
  • Zombies can't swim - 94
  • Cheap I Pad - see below - 91
We did have more shares this week and comments were slightly off on many posts.   






Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Facebook Radio Report Card 4-11-12


The impact of Facebook's Time Line on the news feed from our 'focus group' of 24 stations in various music formats continues to show fewer posts making it past the new feed as we continue to see older posts taking up more space.  To overcome this we look at the individual walls more and find more 'Station Liners' and 'Contests' showing up there but not making it to the news feeds.  The lack of comments and interaction with them is probably the reason.   Overall activity in Likes, Comments and Shares continues to grow with many posts topping 100 likes.    Let's take a look at the categories of the posts from 220 posts over the 3 day period from Easter to 4/11:

Categories of Posts: 
Station Liners - 27%
News - Pics - Links - 47%
Music News - 11%
Polls - 2%
Contests - 3%

Top Posts for Likes:
642 likes - Derek Rose to be a Father -
510 likes - Poster - 'Stay Strong'  shown below
250 likes - Poster - 'Auto Correct quit correct my swearing'
207 likes - Keith Urban in Grand Ole Opry
194 likes - Twitter tweets about Titanic anniversary - most didn't know there was a real ship?
191 likes - Cops arrest naked guy with bunny ears on Easter - pic
186 likes - Article on why black barbers take longer to cut hair.

Top Posts for Comments: 
246 comments - Pic of Large Woman in very tight shorts
194 comments - Debate on woman's rights after sending boy friend nude pics.
187 comments - Pic of Guy wearing very high wasted jeans
155 comments - On the Twitter Titanic tweets

Top Shared Posts: 
110 shares - on poster of little kid - staying strong for weekend (shown below)
104 shares - On poster about Swearing (shown below)









Thursday, April 05, 2012

Facebook Radio Report Card 4-4-12


A number of changes in our Focus Group of Facebook Radio Station Postings this week as the new Facebook Timeline has 'become law' in the land of Social Media.   You can see older posts turning up in the news feeds that have built up reactions and views over a longer time.  There are also a lot more posts that are not making it to our 'news feed' and for this week's report we dug into each of the stations' wall/timeline to see more of their posts for the report.   That also means that lots of posts that used to be in the listener's news feeds are fading away.  Time Line will change the posts that get viewed on your wall and that will also change the posts that make it to your fan's news feeds.

This week our 40 hour window covered 178 posts from a sample of 24 active stations in a variety of music formats.  Here is a breakdown of the categories of the posts:

  • Station Liners - 16%
  • News-Videos-Pics - 52%
  • Music News - 16%
  • Contests 8%
  • Polls/Questions - 8%
Top Posts for Likes: 
  • Travon Martin - Picture collage from WGCI -- 2,330 Likes
  • Picture of Overweight girl and drawing of Jabba the Hut - 890 Likes at Project 961
  • Hump day - sexy butt pic - 522 Likes at  Project 961
  • Reggie Miller in Hall of Fame at WFBQ - 490 Likes
  • Wango Tango Announcement on KISS LA - 366 Likes
  • Bad Girl Club 8 in bar fight video from WGCI - 350 Likes

Tops in Comments: 
  • Overweight girl and Jabba the Hut - 244
  • Caption a pic of a guy looking at another guy's butt from KQRS - 141
  • Pic of kid from Problem Child looking spooky - 125
  • Jock not trimming toenail - pic - 110 
In Sharing only 2 posts really stood out.  The Travon Martin picture board had 128 shares and the Overweight Girl's drawing took on 151 shares. 

The Clear Channel stations were starting to tease and build up the I Heart Radio show which I suspect will spread to more and more of their Facebook postings as the week progresses.  KISS in LA had a number of posts on the announcement of their annual Wango Tango show coming over the Summer.  The Travon Martin controversy continues to draw lots of attention with the Rhythmic and Urban stations.   

Project 961 had a lot of highly ranked posts.  Now that they have over 100K in their Facebook likes you can see more and more fans are engaging with their posts.   While Project 9-6-1 has around 104,000 likes they have over 12,000 talking about them on Facebook.   Compare that to Z100 with over 230,000 likes and around 10,000 talking about them.   

Of all the formats represented here you can see the most action on the Rock and Urban stations.   CHR's are close behind then we see a big drop for Country and lastly AC stations which seem to have the lowest like counts and not a lot of interaction.   It seems odd that AC stations with high female numbers are not growing their fan likes as much and engaging them as actively as the other formats here.   

The pic of the week didn't get into the top ranks of Likes, Comments or Shares, but it's is unique and spreading.