Monday, February 12, 2018

How Close Are You To Your Audience?

Are you close enough to really engage them? Or are you a distance voice reliant on the music you play that they can find in many places - with and without advertising? 
Is your audience a real part of your station, or just a set of ears on the other end of the speaker.  Do you really have a team of personalities that can engage an audience?  Or is it all 'phoned in?'

Do you really know what entertains the audience and engages them?  Or have you given up trying? 

All of these questions may seem obvious, but take a few hours and just listen to your stations.  For many, it may be time to find a way to authentically engage your audience again. 

We all can see a world of new engagement and entertainment on every level.  Radio is still reaching over 90% and has pretty healthy engagement, but the more we sit back and let our programmed automation take the lead we risk losing the connection that made radio so effective.  Just a few thoughts as 2018 gets rolling and see Spring ahead.   

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

3 Opportunities For Radio Revenue in 2018

While we still see lots of challenges for Radio there are 3 opportunities that have tons of potential to drive revenue and cement Radio's strong marketing tool position in every community.   Let's take a look:

DIGITAL - Yes, digital on-line web-based marketing has huge potential for radio.  The Borell studies of advertisers across the county show that the key to success is using both traditional media and targeted digital campaigns.
While it's great to use all the web tools to laser target prospects on the web, you also need the brand building, event creation, and huge reach of traditional media. 

We also have skilled sales teams that already call on the key marketers in our markets.  Give them the knowledge of digital and the tools to add both sides of this package to what they can offer and Radio gets closer to being at the center of more marketing plans and dollars.   Build whole campaigns that build the brand and micro-target customers.

LOCAL - No media has the potential to be more Local than Radio.  Newspapers are struggling to stay afloat in most markets.  TV has become a streaming world with so many options. The internet news world is more often nationally focused, more so on politics it seems like now. In the end who wakes up in your market and talks about your weather, traffic, events, and issues?  Radio clearly has the one on one potential here.

EVENTS - Staging events and also participating in big established events can be a key revenue source.  Yes, it takes lots of planning to build a Job Fair or a Bacon Fest, the opportunity to stage these events and bring in nice crowds from the market is a key skill that Radio has a big edge in.  The key is building them to make sure you build revenue. 

The New Marketing Tools on the block may be great at finding niche targets, but it takes more than chasing targets with banner ads or pre-roll videos.  Most of the time the customer needs to know you and be able to get face to face with you to become a real customer.  Radio has proven over and over it can deliver. 

2018 is a year to look forward to. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Check out This Streaming Site

A very unique site that lets you wander the planet and drop in on key stations all over the world.  Check it out Radio Garden  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Look Out Alexa and Friends are on the march!!

You can see the quick rise of these devices over the last 8-10 months with the early adaptors.  According to Edison Research's Smart Audio Report with NPR in late June 2017 around 7% of the households, own one of these 'smart speakers'  The leaders are Amazon's Alexa and Google's Home and they are poised to be THE big deal this Christmas.  While it will not be as life changing as the smart phone, released 10 years ago, it could have a big impact on Radio listening.

Right now these devices can control smart devices like the thermostat, light switches, and more as they develop them.   They can also act like Siri on the phone and look things up on the web. But, the big deal for Radio and audio is - they can stream your audio with great sound into the house again.  In fact, the Edison/NPR study reports that 90% of the smart speaker owners bought it to listen to music.

For years and years, we've seen radio become a very portable and mobile medium with the car becoming the spot where most listening happens.  Now we have the chance to get back into the home with a new device.  No wonder the sessions at the NAB Radio show in Austin on these devices were well attended.  The only problem is we are competing with all the streaming channels (Spotify and Pandora) and every station in the world who is streaming through the big apps like I Heart and Tune In Radio.  They already have a 'Skills' app section in the Alexa world for 'partners' to link up to Alexa so you can order up an Uber or a Domino's Pizza.  Could there be a link for your station to have a skills app?

So how does your station take advantage of a new radio in the house?   First, we need to educate the audience to command Alexa to tune us in and that will be tricky.  Just saying 'Alexa I want to listen to Z100' might not bring the answer we expected.  How many Z100s are there in the world of streaming?  The key will lie in our call letters - but how many of us use our call letters all the time?   The answer is very few of us.  Does the audience even know our call letters?

We are going to have to start with a detailed campaign in our imaging and promos to explain to the audience how to order up our stations in Alexa land.  First, buy an Alexa and see what works for your station in your market.  Then craft your imaging campaign and make sure it's running enough to stand out.  In the end, our call letters may be very important to more than just the legal ID we bury in a sea of spots in the :50 stop set.

 Yes, only 7-10% of the audience has one now but, this will grow fast over the next year.  If you wait to jump in the pool it could be pretty crowded.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

When Does Classic Rock Get Moldy?

"Classic Rock - Rock That's Stood The Test of Time."  One of the classic sweepers for the format.  But, when does the music get too old?  Right now most Classic Rock stations have an average year of 1977 to 1980 in their music mix.   If we took all the songs over 30 days and averaged them we'd hit a year in that range - the songs are around 40 years old!!  So if you were 18 in 1978 you are now 57.   You are out of the 25-54 demo, coming up on 10 years out of 18-49s, and retirement is hopefully just a few years off.

If you look at the range of music played in the format nearly all of it comes from the mid 60's up to 1990.  Even the newest songs in the mix are almost 30 years old and the oldest are 50 years old.  If you look at the mix on the Classic Hits stations they are at least into the early 80s for the average year and often the mix extends into the early 90s.  It's been over 15 years since we began to see the end of the old - Oldies - format.  Oldies used to cover the late 50s to the late 70s and found itself too old to be effective in the 25-54 demo.  That's when the transition to Classic Hits began and saved the old oldies stations from the grave.

Will it happen to Classic Rock?  Part of the issue is that Classic Rock clearly defined itself as it positioned against rock stations that still played current songs in the 80s and 90s.  That's when the boundaries were set.   For the most part Gun's n Roses is the last band let into the format.  Once in a while, you see a few grunge era titles from Pearl Jam or Nirvana in the mix, but it's very light.  Classic Rock does not include the 90s or beyond - Grunge and Alternative are not in the club at most stations.  Some have expanded but usually, it's less than 4% of the mix.

Will there be a legacy or gold format built for today's 30-50 year old?  If you are 38 today you were 19 in the late 90s.  Does Classic Rock evolve or is the door open for a new approach and mix in rock?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Radio Without People, Presence, and Community

Over the last 20 years, Radio has become more and more wrapped up in its music than it's link to the audience and the community.  Yes, we've all seen the research from the audience that always declares that the music is the most important ingredient on the music stations and that we should all shut up and play the hits.  The PPM meters show the levels diving off as the music ends - so we focus on just playing the hits over and over.

But, the reality is that the audience has access to music all over the place.  It's on their phones, streamed into apps, all over YouTube, and Spotify.   The real key to great radio in today's world is not just playing the hits with some catchy sweepers.  It's getting involved in the audience's life.  Being at the festivals, having the audience involved with the station on air, having the personalities become stars in the community and linking to that community in every way possible.

To do this it takes people.  Just having a syndicated morning show and a bunch of sweepers between the songs isn't going to really draw a dominate audience anymore.  It takes some people and a plan.  You can't just flip on the auto studio and expect the audience to engage, even if you play the right music.  Music has really become defense - just don't let the other stations or music providers score.  You can't score much with music.  There are places to find it first and places that play more of it along with more places that specialize in any genre of music you can play.  You like edm-chill music there are whole channels streaming 24/7.

Where you score points and create offense in radio is with your personality and community presence.

In many markets the Summer is when you can really pour it on in the community.  Take full advantage it's scoring time.   

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Old Fashioned Paper Diary

Rating services have been using the Paper Diary for around 45+ years.  They are still used around the world even with the advent of the people meter.  They are simple to fill out and there's not a lot of expense to get the data once you've got a willing participant.   But, it's getting harder and harder to get the younger audience to fill out a diary with a paper and pen.

Writing things down is something that is quickly fading from our world.  We click on the keyboards (no matter how small they are) and dictate to our devices.  There is no need to write much for the older half of Gen X and all the Millenials which make up the entire 18-45 cells. Even their signature is going digital.

We have seen the sample sizes continue to struggle in these cells and we often see extra cash sent to these groups to try and get the sample.  In most cases, the sample falls short and the diaries from these cells are weighted up, so they are worth 130 or 200 percent of the value of the demo cells that met their goals in returns.

So why not take the diary on-line?  Have it set up so you can fill it out on your smartphone or tablet or laptop.  Will younger demos fill it out?  Will it be more accurate? In Canada, their ratings system (Numeris), made the bold move to give it a try this past Fall.

So how did it turn out?  So far it looks like the sample return was up for 12+  just under 6%.  The 18-34 demos did show a stronger return.  But, the time spent listening was down - also around 6%.  Is the On Line Diary more cumbersome to fill out on a keyboard than just grabbing a pen?  We also saw fewer listening occasions, but longer reported listening when they did tune in according to what they entered in the on-line system.

No doubt there will be tweaking ahead, but it's a great move to at least see the potential of moving beyond the paper diary.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Is Social Media Branding A Waste!!!

We see it all the time as a brand or business launches something new and posts it on Facebook.   The post goes up and then you look at the comments and it's filled with haters.  Everyone complaining about the announcement to the point of no return.

Even though you may have 1000 likes and 800 shares, the 500 haters commenting and picking everything apart almost makes you wonder - should we have just announced the change on our website and avoided all comments?

This is one of the issues with Facebook and perhaps it's may not be your best option to announce a change.

I've recently seen some changes in radio stations where they ran out with announcements on Social Media.  The problem is that they had NO control over how the message would hit and with the door wide open for comments they get clobbered.   It usually starts with all the people who claim radio is useless or so old fashioned and that they have moved on to satellite radio or one of the streaming apps.  They claim not to listen at all, but they seem to know how bad it is or that the station doesn't play their kind of music now.  The same can go for personalities, contests, features and even special community events.  They can say anything they want in the comments - make it up and say whatever you want.

All it seems to take are a few haters tapping away on their keyboards to dampen the whole event or change.  There are ways to make sure you have some control when you announce in today's world - it may be worth it to consider the alternatives.  While yes - the haters will hate hate hate - you don't have to open the door just to accommodate them.