Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Imagine if the Big 3 Worked Together

Ford and Toyota just announced a joint project to build Hybrid Truck technology where the 2 auto forces will come together to help develop the technology, lower the costs for consumers and bring it to market faster.  You can read about it here.  

It all happened with the 2 CEOs ran into each other in an airport and started chatting.  For those of us in the cut throat and highly competitive radio world this seems sort of weird.  The auto world is very competitive and with something like 700 different car models out there it's a pretty cut throat world.  But somehow 2 of the biggest are getting set to build a pretty big project together.

Can you imagine CBS and Clear Channel or Cumulus or Cox or Townsquare all sitting down to work on potential answers to all the challenges we face in Radio?   It might be hard to imagine, but what if they did?  What could they work on?

  • Our National Image - How about a full cooperative program to work on the image of our media.  Too often Radio is viewed as 'yesterday's technology' and even though we see strong Cume and national listening averages we still get stuck with - 'isn't everyone listening to Satellite Radio"  or hasn't the I Pod killed you yet?
  • Spreading our Distribution - While many are streaming and there are pure play streaming systems built into the Clear Channel and CBS national streaming products are there more opportunities here?  Could we develop apps that zero in on Broadcast Streamers?  How about making up our own territory here and making it easy to navigate and use.  The new world of streaming with so many options will be tough to navigate at 70mph on the 405 or the Dan Ryan or Mass Turnpike - if we can get our world organized and localized as you drive around it could be a big help to us and the drivers.  
  • Working with Social Networks and New Media - Are there money making opportunities if we all banded together here?  Instead of letting Google or someone else develop a system of working with local business' on developing Social Network strategies why can't we use the collective reach of radio to develop a real sell-able opportunity for us and a program to help merchants and service providers get closer to their audience's through ours?  
  • New Car Radio Ideas:  Wouldn't it be great if we had an easy way to reprogram your car radio push buttons as you drove from market to market?  Instead of searching for the Rock or CHR or Country stations in Syracuse you could press a button and your car radio would lock them in.  This is one advantage of satellite radio and it will be a web/streaming wifi advantage that we should work on.  
I'm sure these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg - (if you have any more hit the comments and chime in). 

The opportunities to set radio up to be a much stronger media down the road are there.  Yes, we have the NAB and state broadcasting organizations and even the FCC to unite us - but are these organizations really getting to the 'big issues' and challenges that we need to face?   Maybe it would help if the CEOs would end up meeting in the Delta Lounge somewhere someday and decided to build a real actionable plan.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Appointment Listening - The New Obsession!?

Programmers and the air staff have been adding new 'tricks' or 'techniques' for years to try and improve the performance in delivering audience (ratings).  Recycling the audience to other dayparts with cross promos, billboards to tempt listening through the stop set, big events to build huge tune in, daily features to build certain hours in the day (the Request Lunch), listening locations (at work) and also special programming days (All Music Mondays - 2 Fer Tues).

Over the last 5 years the new big tool has been Appointment Listening.  Making a specific appointment with the listener to come back.  While it may be similar to the 'billboard just before the stop set' it really serves a different purpose.  Really this technique stems from the 'Arbitron Listening Fact' that you have an 'average time spent listening' for the station for every time they tune in.   Say the average TSL with the station per tune in is 8 minutes - so they are in the process or already have spent 8 minutes - if you can get them back in 15 minutes you will probably get another 8 minutes.   So your total here is 15-16 minutes.  At the end of the 2nd tune in maybe you can hook them for another 8 minutes and end up with 20+ minutes in a 90 minute period.  

Instead of begging them to stick around through the stop set and hope they will hang for another 8 minutes now we give in to the 'law of averages' and shoot for them to come back later in the hour or maybe later in the daypart (at 12:30 catch the big Concern Announcement for U2).  

It's an effective tool and it has been shown in lots of data analysis to work.  Of course the best way to see it is in tracking the PPM meters where we can see real behavior in real time.  Who knows if any of these techniques is really accurately recorded in a diary?  Hence we now see the Appointment Billboard being the new big standout technique in the jock breaks in PPM markets and also making it's way to diary markets.   It's even bleeding into TV - just watch SportsCenter.    

The key here is to make sure you have real actionable appointments.  Just mentioning that 3 Doors Down's recurrent from last year is coming up in 15 minutes will probably not do much.  Make sure to make it big and newsworthy or entertaining enough to catch the attention of the audience. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Today's 'Individual' Person

Before the end of 2011, or very early in 2012, we will surpass 7 Billion people on the planet!!!  Right now this seems like we have so many people here, and no doubt more to come with birth rates not really slowing down and the lifespan growing for many countries.  While it would seem logical that with more and more of us around that we would be growing more unified but if you took a look from the outside at us through our interaction on the internet you would probably conclude that the human populations in this world are really becoming a lot more individualistic.

The web offers tons of tools to become more of an individual - or to at least make you feel that you are a special individual - even on a planet of 7,000,000,000 people.  It's easy to make lots of stuff in your world unique to you.  We can all think of examples from your music collection to the color of your screen saver.  Every product works to make it as 'personal and individual' of an experience as possible.

No one wants wants to be 'wearing the same outfit' in today's world and overall it's pretty easy to become so individualistic in your virtual/web world that even with 7 Billion you are an individual.

As we go beyond 7 billion next year remember that the audience will be looking for more and more ways to preserve their individuality -- even in the face of the 1 in 7 billion odds.   Something to keep in mind as you program your station and hang with the local audience in your market.