Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 Trends

As we head into 2012 there are a number of 'trends' developing that are worth noting. I don't want to call these predictions - just some areas that affect our audience that are emerging and worth watching:
  • Social Networks - They continue to grow and occupy the lion's share of most people's on-line time which seems to grow even more as more smart phones and mobile apps allow you to be on-line all the time.  The big trend in 2011 was the evolution of the networks to complete mass acceptance.  There are nearly a billion FB accounts and the marketing/branding world is out in full force and with FB going public in 2012 they will dominate the news.  Those who don't master social networks for building their brands and realize how to integrate the potential of radio's huge reach into a social network strategy will be ones that hold back our industry.  Right now it's a 2 team world - the rest of the networks are small niche players at best - to play you have to look at these 2:
    • Facebook - Will continue to grow and evolve but it's not the new kid on the block and every change will be widely challenged.  Marketers and brands are also taking up lots of content space here and could hurt FB if they are not careful.  The minute FB seems more like corporate hype and one big un-creative banner ad it could be replaced.  
    • Twitter - It's the service with momentum right now with 400 million users in sight soon.  Marketing in a 140 character world is a challenge.  This will be the opportunity in 2012 much as Facebook became a force for radio brands in 2010 and 2011. 
  • The Election - We have SO MUCH media space to fill that this election will be a pretty tiring event for the audience.  Look at the developments as they relate to radio content here: 
    • Super PAC and PAC money - The high court ruling that PACs can spend as much as they want has set the stage for a nuke explosion of dollars to be spent.  
    • More Talk FMs - While we haven't seen them pull shares yet - they will pull in lots of dollars and we can also expect to hear a lot about this election in the commercials.   Just look at Iowa where the airwaves are flooded and it's only a Republican Caucus.  
    • All over the Net - On the social networks, on your phone, all over your searches and dominating any web site you visit with targeted political content.  Your computer and your TV will look like this for 6 to 7 months:

    • Content - We have tons of political web sites, news services, networks, TV stations, cable news services, network news, bloggers, on-line news sites, newspapers, magazines and PAC sites disguised as news sites all searching for the big story to draw all eyes their way.  And they have to do it over and over again with the onset of each news cycle.  Is it any wonder that any Washington story can suddenly become a crisis?  Is some of the grid lock in congress coming from too many sides to any issue and a media so fixed on everything that everyone is afraid to move?  
    • Overload - This all sets up radio for a complete overload of our airwaves.  
  • PPM - As we gather more data and see more of the PPM listening trends expect to see more programming ideas and rules change.  Bow Tie clocks, quick fire entertainment/personality, tighter show prep, an evolution in imaging tactics, and lots of concern over sample size.  
  • Research - The industry needs a full overhaul.  We have so much data from the web, PPM, On-line surveys, Facebook Metrics, and web searches that the old music test or perceptual seems like super slow motion in a hypersonic world.
  • Being Local - Even as we see more trends to syndicated and voice tracked dayparts remember that just because we don't have someone local behind the mic doesn't mean that a brand or station cannot be a HUGE force and have a BIG local presence.  Take an honest look at what the 'local personalities' did to really be local on the air and off - there are more people who are just voices on the transmitter here than real people in the community.  
  • Being Authentic - The real key to marketing our clients products/services and building our brands is CONTENT.  Having creative content that is authentic and draws the attention of the audience is the only way to build any momentum in today's marketing universe.  We have so many delivery options from broadcast, the web, social networks, going viral, You Tube, billboards, print, product placement, sports tie ins and who knows what else that the audience is drowning in hype.   The only way to rise above the hype is to have some authentic entertaining content.   If we'd start to focus on building this into the campaigns we sell (both on the air and in the digital world) we will become a huge force in marketing again.  
  • New Web Gadget/Gimmicks - Last year we saw the rise of Pandora and the lure of Groupon.   In the end we can see how both are fairing in the stock world.  Pandora went public and while it held it's ground it's not likely to light the world on fire in a business sense.  Trying to mount a local sales force for Pandora in every market and living in a royalty world that will limit their income as they grow is not a model that will sell on Wall Street.  Groupon is too easily copied and really ends up being just another hyped up marketing model.  Really radio answered these threats pretty well - the advance of the CBS and Clear Channel into the streaming world is a good answer.  Groupon is being hit a lot by local stations that have built their own answers for clients.  There will be new gadgets next year - maybe one of them will be RADIO!!! We do have lots of advantages that are being ignored. 
  • Music - A big transition year.  Rap/Hip Hop is getting pretty extreme in the language and topics.  The pop world has been living for a long time on the young world of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Ga Ga and their LPs from 2 years ago.  What will evolve?  Indie Rock with unique instruments, lyrics, and presence?  A new breed of rocker that isn't a copy of Nickleback? An authentic country voice that isn't really a pop singer in boots? A singer songwriter that impacts the Hot AC and AC world - or is that Adele?  Watch for new music on your desk this year -- the audience is ready for the Next Thing not a rehash of the last thing. 
The real note here is that we have a restless audience.  They are ready to 'occupy anything' because they are ready for something different and perhaps new.  But, in the end they are looking to be entertained and being a part of a community.  The other challenge is a world where there are new product distribution options all the time - staying on top of them and investing quickly and wisely will keep our brands in front of the audience.  If we can keep those areas as our top priorities making money, building EBITA, hitting budgets and keeping Radio a strong player in the mix will happen automatically.  Happy 2012!!!!   

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Personalization Bubble

As we work in our Broadcasting world and the ever increasing Social Media and Web world that we interact and build our audience's with there are some important lessons here in this presentation by Eli Pariser at a recent TED conference.

His thought here is that in our web and digital world we are living in such a personalized bubble that is filtered constantly analyzing everything we read, share, click on, and interact with that we can end up living in our own world.  Very interesting thought - and the more you think about it - very true.

We come from Broadcasting where the only filter is - changing the channel to another station.  It does give the audience a community.   Eli's view here is that in the Personalized web world we could be turning into individualists.

The other thought to take away is 'how to work and interact in the individualistic world the audience is building - with the help of the Social Media sites and Search Engines.  

Monday, December 05, 2011

Times Are A Changing As Always

Perhaps it's the holiday season or the excitement of a new year approaching, but I've been thinking about the some broad stroke perspectives.   

As we enter 2012 we are in the middle of celebrating some anniversaries.  We will soon have around 20 years of the web under our belts -- the first Nexus browser came out in 1990 and the Mosaic browser (far easier to use and the template for what we have today) in 1993.  It was around 10 years ago in 2002 when High Speed Internet access was only in 10% of the homes - now it's well over 70%.   And when you really look back to around 30 years ago we saw personal computers move from being a hobby to a full fledged industry with Apple- IBM squaring off and Microsoft starting to brew software.  It was also around 20 years ago that we saw the first portable cell phones that could actually be carried around without a bag or a being the size of a brick - those 1980s lug-able phones are nearly 30 years old now.

These evolutionary anniversaries signal some big changes in all of lives here on Planet Earth.   Look at some of the random examples that seem to stand out when you step back : 
  • Christmas Cards - Notice that you are getting fewer and fewer every year?  Sending off a few Email cards, dropping everyone a tweet or a Facebook greeting, or perhaps a text will do. 
  • Paper - We seemed to be drowning in paper 30 years ago.  So much of what we did in transacting our lives and creating content came from using paper.  While we still use a lot of the stuff - we can see a day when paper will be rare - sort of like stone tablets. 
  • Physical Presence: In the 80s and 90s we began to see the potential of a world where we were able to have a nearly full communication experience without needing a physical exchange. 
  • Telephones - It's clearly the all purpose tool of the future.  If you go back to the big inventions of 100 or so years ago it would have to be the mass acceptance of - Autos, Electricity, Airplanes, Phones and Radio/TV.   While all of these has evolved to some degree the biggest growth has clearly come in phones over the last 30 years.  It's been able to evolve and morph with so many other innovations.  
  • World Communication - The planet has never seemed closer in a connected way, yet we also seem to be showing more division in beliefs and struggling to find common ground in many ways.  It's great that we can all communicate so freely but it also requires that we have open minds and be curious and tolerant of a planet that will pass 7 billion people early in 2012.  
  • Demographics and Generations - We are moving faster in communication and information with every generation to a point where the gaps between various age groups is sometimes dramatic.  Look at all that has evolved and changed to a person who is in their 70s or 80s today.   We are moving at an ever increasing rate of speed that requires that you keep up or fall way behind. 
  • Elections - It will be a big year for big talk.  The influence of the evolution of our communication abilities is having a huge impact on elections.  With all the discussion of issues and drama, that is so open and interactive, elections, and our expectations of the leaders that evolve from them, is something we will have to learn and adjust to.  Maybe we will realize that Superman was fiction - none of us on this planet is that good.    Maybe the people will regain their voices in a world that seems to be more and more influenced by commerce over community. 
I'm sure you have lots of examples to add here, but as we get set for 2012 the big point that  there is a lot to reflect on.   It should be an exciting year as we start to see economies recover, perhaps some hopes for a more peaceful planet as a number of countries/cultures are evolving and changing, and the ability to communicate so quickly and freely continues to speed up our evolution.   

It will also be a year when we will no doubt hear a lot about the Mayan Calendar which seems to end on December 21st by all of the calculations and speculation we can piece together.   While some have predicted the end of the world and cosmic events - perhaps we have been working towards a big moment in our evolution and that is what they foresaw.