Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cell Phone ONLY Households

The National Center for Health Statistics has released the bi-annual survey on cell phone only households for the 2nd half of 2007 and the 18+ percentage of cell phone only households is now up to 15.8%!!!!!

This percentage has grown from Jan-June 2004 at 5% to nearly 16% in just 3 years. And the growth is really increasing. The percentages grew 14% in the last 1/2 of 2007 compared to the first half. Looking further back the percentages from the first 1/2 of 2006 were up 6% over the last half of 2006. At this rate of growth the numbers will quickly hit 20%, it could happen when they release the first half of 2008 around September. So it's likely that right now we are over 20% of the adult population in cell phone only households. By the end of 2008 we will probably be over 25%.

They are also tracking the people who may have a land line but take nearly all their calls on the cell phone. That's another 13.1%. So nearly 29% of the households really don't use the land line as a phone. When Arbitron calls - 29% of the adult population is out of the game. And I repeat it's growing every day.

Now look at the data by age cells:

-------Jan-June 2004 ---- July-Dec 2007

18-24 ---10.3%--------------30.6%

25-29---- 9.9% --------------34.5%

30-44-----4.4%-------------- 15.5%

45-64----- 2.3%-------------- 8.0%

65+ ---------.9%-------------- 2.2%

This is not just 18-24s and college students - look at the rate of growth in 30-44s and now the biggest percentage is 25-29s. If your target audience is 18-44s you are well over 20% of the households using only cell phones. The number is even higher if you factor in the land line households who really don't take calls on the land line.

You can read the study here.

Using landlines for Arbitron samples and research in general is quickly becoming a very biased sample that leaves out big chunks of the population. Obviously we NEED new answers here. Find a way to call cell phones or start using the web, email, myspace?, maybe text messaging, or other new ways to contact the sample. Our data is quickly becoming too in-accurate to be credible even with People Meters we still don't have a reliable and accurate sample with land line phones as the base.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So Where Are The New Format Ideas?

As we approach the Summer it could be a great time to see some fresh thinking and new ideas in formats and new approaches in radio programming. In many ways Summer is a time when the ratings pressure is off a little in the 4 book markets to launch something fresh and new or roll out a few experiments and see how they sound.

Last Summer we saw the 'Movin' format get rolling in a number of markets, but now it's pretty much looking like this adult rhythmic approach is not exploding. The summer before in 06 was really the wind down of a 2 year period where the Jack/Variety Hits formats were the news, but for the most part they have stabilized or even faded away in many markets. Last summer we also saw a number of Oldies stations re-vamp themselves as Classic Hits and bringing in a lot more 70s/80s titles.

So what could be on tap for this year? There are some ripe territories that could be up for grabs:

  • 90s Rock - In the late 70s the oldies format was born, in the late 80s we saw Classic Rock flourish, the 80s formats largely came into being in the late 90s and here we are in the late 2000s. There is a lot of great rock from the era and a few stations have already started in this direction this year. You many not have heard of them as the launches have been rather low key and involved existing rockers tweaking their approach. The climate is ripe as today's 25-40 year olds all spent their teens and early 20s in the 90s. The dawn of Grunge, Alternative, pop alternative, Active Rock and 90s metal are all part of the rock side of the 90s and lots of it still tests very well.
  • Youth Formats - We have given up in many ways on the teens and 18-24s in our research and experiments in recent years. The news isn't good and we haven't even looked carefully at this market, perhaps due to tightening budgets. It's time to get off our butts and at least take a long hard look at what could be an exciting radio product for the 15-25 year olds. Is anyone doing anything? Doesn't look like it but it could be a spot to work on. It's going to take a lot of new thinking, social networks, texting tricks, unique web approaches and a whole new approach to music. In many ways it's a lot like the launch of young formated youth stations on FM in the early 70s. They threw out every rule of the AM top 40s to make an impression and the going was tough for a while, but look at the big winnings 10 years later!!!
  • 90s-Current based AC - A few jumped when the 'Fresh' approach hit in NYC, but there hasn't been much news of recent. This approach to get the more mature 25-44 female could work well in lots of markets.
  • FM Talk - We've been talking about it for years but very few have turned it into a strong format.
  • Rock - In almost all forms could be a good move this Summer. The music is in good shape for currents and the classic forms of the music reach into the 50 plus audience with ease now. There's Rock out there for people from the late teens all the way to the 60s in some form. Now with PPM finally moving into the top 10 markets this Fall and we're still seeing stronger shares and cume for Rock in PPM than in the Diary system.

It could be an interesting summer, but it could also be a drought in creativity and experimenting. Even though our industry desperately needs to innovate with our products there doesn't seem to be much attention focused on it. The top news seems to be the Clear Channel buy out, which is no doubt distracting all the Clear Channel stations from investing or experimenting for a while. There is also lots of news on the economy and struggling revenues which is another deterrent to innovating. We're also continuing to invest a lot of time and effort into HD Radio and not gaining anything for it. Perhaps it's time to get back to focusing a lot more on our product and the audience.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Al Ries - Views the Internet and Mobile Net

Al Ries' involvement in the revolutionary 'Positioning' series of books has always put Al's thoughts and observations high on many of our must read lists.

I caught his recent Advertising Age article on the state of media and the emerging Mobile Net (the web on your cell phone) - the third screen. Al feels that this media is the 'next revolution' joining the big leagues of media - Books, Newspapers, Radio, TV, Internet.

It's a bit scary as Al makes a number of observations that are astute:

Fasten your seat belts. On the horizon, there's another profound shift in media, consumer behavior and technology coming. In the near future we are likely to welcome the arrival of a sixth mass-communications medium. And what is this earth-shaking new medium? It's the Mobilenet. The what? Surely you are joking, Al. The Mobilenet is just a subset of the internet. Just another way of going online. Just another way of surfing the net without using a computer. That's why mobile devices are commonly called the "third screen." Third-screen thinking is going to cause you and your company to miss the boat.

Which big brands were created by moving content from one medium to another? Very, very few.

Moving The Wall Street Journal online didn't save Dow Jones from the clutches of Rupert Murdoch for just $5 billion.

Moving ESPN onto cellphones didn't take it to the big leagues.

So far, moving TV shows to the internet hasn't created as much value as one internet site, Less than 20 months after its launch, YouTube was bought by Google for $1.65 billion.

Hopefully Radio will keep evolving with new ideas and strategies for the Third Screen-Mobile Net, but Al's point here is that the real 'killer ap' in the new 3rd Screen world will probably not be a line extension of our brand on a different distribution system. We need to think WAY OUT OF THE BOX.

One of the 'dreams' we all have on the web and new media is that we can extend our brand with all it's reach and content (if we don't cut the heart out of it) to the Web and Beyond.

Al's point here is - don't count on it. Read Al's whole article here.