Wednesday At The NAB Show: A Talk By Tom Wheeler, Digital Strategies And More From NMX
April 15, 2015 at 4:14 PM (PT)
WEDNESDAY's opener for the NAB SHOW in LAS VEGAS was the annual FCC Keynote, featuring FCC Chairman TOM WHEELER, who focused on spectrum incentive auctions but denied that the FCC is, as critics allege, ignoring broadcasting in favor of the "shiny" Internet. He said that what the Commission is doing is intended to expand opportunities for broadcasters and consumers, adding that he hopes broadcasters will see the Open Internet order as important to maintain and expand broadcasters' access to the community, protecting them against gatekeepers and more like "must carry, updated for the 21st Century."
"The public interest is served by a healthy broadcasting industry with robust reach ... broadcasting is an important part of the future, just as it has been an essential part of our past," WHEELER said, adding that watching television is "our national pastime ... Your online futures must be free of gatekeepers," WHEELER asserted in trying to enlist broadcasters' support for the Net neutrality rules. And he assured broadcasters that they are not being targeted by reduced interference protection or reduction of field offices leading to fewer resources for fighting pirate stations, defending the field office reduction by detailing the "unrealistically high overhead costs" of maintaining physical space in many cities when "we want (the staff) out of the office anyway." "We're going to be putting more agents in MIAMI and NEW YORK" to fight pirate radio, he said, and "flying teams" will be sent to other markets when needed.
WHEELER said that he and Commissioner MIKE O'RIELLY are working together to advance O'RIELLY's proposal to loosen foreign ownership restrictions, saying that he is "optimistic" about its chances. He also touted his AM Radio Revitalization proposal, responding to Commissioner AJIT PAI's support for helping broadcasters on the AM band.
The meat of WHEELER's talk was about the incentive auctions and the "productive dialogue" with broadcasters on the issue, reiterating last year's keynote characterization of the auctions as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity for broadcasters, but noting that the Commission has been addressing additional concerns over the past year about conduct of the auction, repacking, and other issues. WHEELER said that the Commission will consider a procedures-focused Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the coming months; he added that the goal is to simplify the process. And he said that TV stations will be allowed to arrange channel-sharing deals before and after the auction, and will entertain channel-sharing applications unrelated to the auction. Stressing the "once in a lifetime opportunity" aspect of the auction, WHEELER also said that the FCC "has no other auctions planned, or expected."
Updates On NextRadio, Connected Car
EMMIS SVP/CTO PAUL BRENNER offered an update on NEXTRADIO as part of the NAB SHOW's Digital Strategies all-day seminar, including the prototype interactive in-dash FM receiver first unveiled at INTERNATIONAL CES in JANUARY. He characterized NEXTRADIO's approach as a "light touch," offering stations by genre with "glanceable" previews of what's playing on each channel and using pictures to be less of a distraction. "We're trying to be innovative in the car," BRENNER said, indicating that NEXTRADIO is willing to work with every platform and manufacturer. "We're not trying to take over anything." He highlighted the app's growth and marketing campaign (55,000 spots on radio in a five-week campaign -- "who knew?," he joked, "radio campaigns work!"), becoming the 8th-ranked music app on GOOGLE Play -- and noted that album art "makes the difference" in engagement. He claimed over 2 million activated users, with 11,200 stations tuned in (4,300 per day), with 17 minutes average time spent listening. The app supports phones not only on SPRINT but with certain phones on all carriers. He stressed that radio needs a platform in the mobile market, suggesting that NEXTRADIO and TAGSTATION are the platform for the industry. And BRENNER pointed to the recent ALLSTATE ad campaign on NEXTRADIO as an example that radio can emulate locally as well, and proposed that stations use the app's capability to promote artists' local concert appearances.
Earlier, consultant ROGER LANCTOT analyzed the state of in-dash information/entertainment systems, pointing at the progression from touch to voice command controls, from apps and content contained in the system itself to the cloud, and the elimination of knobs. The first- and second-generation systems are, he noted, not the final versions and that car makers are, with the exception of TOYOTA and JAGUAR/LAND ROVER, moving towards allowing users to pick between APPLE's CarPlay and GOOGLE's Android Car for their in-dash operating system, both of which require Net access through . He predicted more confusion in the short term, but insisted "it will get better."
At the concurrent and adjacent NEW MEDIA EXPO (NMX), a panel advised podcasters on building communities to grow influence and income, with moderator CHARLES MCCALL (SUCCESS FREAKS, FRON THE HELICARRIER) joined by SCAM SCHOOL, NIGHT ATTACK, and CORD CUTTERS co-host BRIAN BRUSHWOOD, COVERVILLE and THE MORNING STREAM host BRIAN IBBOTT, SUCCESS FREAKS' R. MORDANT MAHON, BLOGTALKRADIO Head of Content and former ESPN podcast producer JAY SODERBERG.
IBBOTT discussed finding a topic about which a host is passionate and reaching out to people also passionate about that topic, like Facebook groups. SODERBERG noted the importance of engaging an audience where they are, on the various social media platforms, and BRUSHWOOD suggested having a sub-Reddit to give listeners a place to engage and contribute. "People don't want to consume content," BRUSHWOOD said, "they want to feel like they're part of the content." MCFALL added that GARY VAYNERCHUK advises hosts to not just engage but "give," as in going onto Internet forums and offering advice and information.
Regarding monetization, SODERBERG stressed the importance of explaining who the audiences for the shows are to sponsors; in some cases, with the listeners deeply engaged with the hosts, the sponsors were told to expect the listeners to want the same kind of engagement with the advertising. MAHON offered that "it's all trial and error" in approaching potential sponsors; BRUSHWOOD said that building a passionate audience first is important before looking to monetize a show. SODERBERG added that podcasting is still relatively young and sponsors are trying to figure things out, and that ultimately the responsibility for sales will be with representatives rather than direct.
The panel also looked at using social media and crowdsourcing platforms to raise money, including PATREON (BRUSHWOOD advised hosts to be "honest and candid" about using the fundraising platform, and SODERBERG extended that to "breaking it to your audience" that an advertiser is being brought on).
Getting The Word Out
Marketing online content like podcasting was the topic for an NMX session WEDNESDAY afternoon, with SPWRITE PRODUCTIONS, LLC's SANDRA PAYNE hosting and LEGENDARY DIGITAL NETWORKS President ADAM RYMER and SCHMOYER MEDIA's TIM SCHMOYER discussing the art of getting noticed.
SCHMOYER advised that hosts define why an audience should care about their content and why it would be valuable for them. The connection, he said, is emotional, a shared belief system being more important than the topic; he also pointed to networking and partnering with other content creators to spread the product.
After joking that everyone should have a CHRIS HARDWICK to publicize their content (HARDWICK's NERDIST INDUSTRIES is one of LEGENDARY's properties, along with FELICIA DAY's GEEK AND SUNDRY and AMY POEHLER's SMART GIRLS), RYMER likened social media for digital to billboards for traditional media, recommending social media as the best and least expensive method to publicize content. He also pointed towards "micro-targeting" content and marketing, matching narrowly-targeted social media segments to the content.
On marketing strategy, RYMER said his company focuses on what's unique about the content and put it in front of people who will find it interesting. LEGENDARY uses an outside public relations firm for marketing, and RYMER noted that professional P.R. releases give the content additional credibility.
Asked if it's easier to promote certain types of content than others, SCHMOYER noted that "the world is a big enough place" for all kinds of content, but RYMER pointed to the difficulty of marketing entirely new content by creators who were previously unknown, a problem even for established podcast networks (although he indicated that this is changing).
For unknown and beginning podcasters and video creators, SCHMOYER advised to network with other creators (including at events like NMX), and RYMER noted that, increasingly, marketing opportunities are part of the initial discussions at the very beginning of the content creation process. He described the process of creating a marketing plan, saying that the goals are enumerated first and "you back into a marketing plan from that," asking the "W's" -- who, what, where, when, why -- to formulate a plan. He later noted that his company has had success using promoted posts on Facebook.
Asked about the future of marketing digital content, RYMER said that it will ultimately include some traditional media marketing like billboards, but that the industry needs to figure out monetization first ("it's sure not going to come from YOUTUBE"). SCHMOYER predicted that more will go mobile, and more audience will come from other countries not thought of in that way right now.
PodcastOne And Promoting The Podcast Business
NORM PATTIZ, joined by one of his PODCASTONE hosts, ROB CESTERNINO of "ROB HAS A PODCAST," gave a joint keynote to close WEDNESDAY's proceedings at NMX, talking about increasing audience and monetizing podcasts. PATTIZ noted that others say podcasts can only monetize through subscriptions and direct response advertisers, but highlighted podcasts' better environment for advertising with limited interruption of the content; CESTERNINO said that it is the podcasters' job to "bring life" to the ads, making them work for the advertiser and the audience. He reiterated his comment from the RAIN SUMMIT on SUNDAY that comparing a million podcast listeners to a million radio listeners, "our million is worth more than any other million," because the podcast listeners had to make a specific decision on their own time to choose to download and listen to the show and are thus more valuable. "All we have to do," PATTIZ said, "is to let (the advertisers) know about it."
PATTIZ likened the present podcast advertising situation to the early days syndicating radio programming at WESTWOOD ONE, saying that it requires evangelizing. And after determining that many in the room who professed to be podcasters indicated that they don't want advertisers, he noted that "we're still a really small business" and need to "sink or swim together" in developing the ad market for the medium. But he warned that "a lot of the things that got us here are not the things that are going to propel us forward," noting that the medium still does not have measurement that accurately demonstrates actual listening as required by national advertisers.
Regarding marketing, PATTIZ said that his company tries to promote its shows on other shows in the network; he stressed the importance of the social following of the guests for interview shows in developing an audience. "If you don't have a name, you don't have a following," PATTIZ said of interview show hosts, "you're screwed."
Pointing to the success that NPR has found in launching shows by feeding them in place of already-successful shows, PATTIZ called on podcasters to cooperate to promote each other (suggesting that podcasters group together small podcasts to sell as a "long tail" play, although advertisers, he said, are still looking for the next "breakthrough" show). And he said "we've gone as far as we're gonna get" with direct response advertising, calling for a move into brand advertising but "much less of it to make it a much more attractive listener experience."
At the annual Technology Luncheon, KINTRONICS LABS President THOMAS F. KING was presented with the 2015 NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award, HUBBARD BROADCASTING Senior Engineering Consultant RAY CONOVER received the NAB Service to Broadcast Engineering Award, and FOX NETWORKS Engineering and Operations EVP/GM RICHARD FRIEDEL was presented with the NAB Television Engineering Achievement Award.
(Note: PERRY MICHAEL SIMON, reporting on the NAB SHOW and NMX for ALL ACCESS, serves as Director of Programming for NERDIST, a division of LEGENDARY DIGITAL NETWORKS)