RAIN Summit And NAB/RAB Radio Show Kick Off Today In Atlanta
September 29, 2015 at 3:01 PM (PT)
It's a big week in ATLANTA, as both the RAIN SUMMIT and the NAB/RAB RADIO SHOW get underway on TUESDAY (9/29).
KURT HANSON and BRAD HILL are hosting the RAIN SUMMIT, a partner event to THE RADIO SHOW.
Podcasting Comes Of Age
The conference began with a panel on podcasting moderated by AMPLIFI MEDIA's STEVE GOLDSTEIN and featuring PODCASTONE's KIT GRAY, AUDIOBOOM's ROBERT PROCTOR, SPREAKER's ROB GREENLEE, RIVET NEWS RADIO's JOHN MACLEOD, and BRENDAN MONAGHAN of SLATE's PANOPLY network.
MCLEOD noted that podcasting is beginning to take off because "a lot of planets are getting aligned across the industries" but especially noted that "cars are finally embracing connected audio." GRAY posited that listening to podcasts makes fans "feel like you're part of a community," while PROCTOR touted the ability to "curate" audio for a typical commute. GREENLEE called smartphones "the new radio" and pointed towards the simplification of subscribing to podcasts, and MONAGHAN cited the niche nature of podcast content as appealing. The panel discussed the issue of discovery, with MONAGHAN highlighting cross-promotion among podcasts and the importance of social media engagement, a point echoed by PROCTOR, whose company has used celebrities' appearances to draw listeners.
One of the biggest problems in the podcasting area, as it is in radio, is the issue of metrics; PROCTOR noted the issue of being unable to get enough data from the primary distribution platform -- iTunes -- and added that the industry has an opportunity for podcasting to "jump ahead of video and display advertising" if it solves the issue. MONAGHAN voiced hope that measurement will, moving forward, be able to show which segments of a particular show people are listening to.
Direct-response advertising's dominance and the desire to attract brand advertising was addressed by GRAY, who said that an increased understanding of the audience and technology are allowing podcast sales to evolve. "Brands are excited about this medium," GRAY asserted.
But GOLDSTEIN raised the downside of audience attrition for podcasts past the 30 minute mark, and MONAGHAN said that his network starts shows by keeping them to 10-15 minutes and making them "earn (their) listenership." Yet GREENLEE noted that the most popular podcasts run over 45 minutes, offering that the key to keeping people listening is engagement between the host and audience.
PROCTOR said that the top 15 accounts for 90% of traffic, and that much of the content isn't very good, presenting commercial radio with an opportunity to produce great content to "blow the lid" off the podcast industry. He added, in response to an audience question, that those concerned about podcasts "cannibalizing" broadcast audience should understand that they need to join the podcast conversation or they will be excluded.
Moving To Mobile-First
ALL ACCESS columnist and MEDIA.INFO Managing Director JAMES CRIDLAND moderated a panel on online audio's move towards mobile-first, with NATIONAL PUBLIC MEDIA's BRYAN MOFFETT, XAPPMEDIA's LISA NAMEROW, SOUNDHOUND's CHERYL LUCANEGRO, and NOBEX TECHNOLOGIES' GADI MAZOR. The panel discussed the growth of mobile audio and the need for engagement (LUCANEGRO advising that "we really need to rethink audio creative" as opposed to concentrating on visuals).
MOFFETT noted that listening sessions to NPR ONE's on-demand service have grown in length to about a half-hour; he added that nobody has "nailed" the radio-style listening experience for spoken word on mobile the way PANDORA or SPOTIFY have done for music. A colleague of MOFFETT offered that 7% of listening to NPR ONE is via Bluetooth, and the vast majority of listening is played through phone speakers rather than through headphones or Bluetooth.
Digital: Dimes Turning Into Dollars
How radio can make money via digital was the focus of a panel moderated by RAIN's MICHAEL FISCHER with GREATER MEDIA's JENNIFER WILLIAMS, FEDERATED MEDIA's SHANNON ALLEN, BUZZBOARD's ANTHONY BRATTI, and NIELSEN's ROB KASS.
ALLEN explained her company's digital strategy, dealing with four areas -- branding, lead generation, social engagement, and responsive web design and development -- and creating a standalone digital agency with three digital sellers on her team billing more than the 50-60 sellers across the company's radio and newspaper properties (although she pointed out that the digital sellers are targeting larger clients). WILLIAMS said that her company does not have digital-only sellers, preferring the 360-degree solutions approach including radio, digital, and events; she also stressed the need for programmers and marketing staff to be included and to learn to engage listeners through digital.
KASS explained NIELSEN's digital audio measurement initiatives, dealing with an increasingly fragmented media landscape and attempting to deliver a "real holistic view of what a listener is doing" while providing a way to weed through the "big data" to find insights ("just because data exists doesn't mean you have to use it"). He said that NIELSEN's "recipe for successful marketing and media strategies" looks at audience reach and resonance (how it changed attitudes) and whether that changed listeners' behavior.
BRATTI voiced his opinion that radio often "lags behind other" media in selling digital, and ALLEN added that she came from the newspaper industry, which "had to be digital." and agreed that radio fell behind while newspapers were forced to embrace digital; she said that radio needed digital less to survive, as with newspapers, than to add growth. "We can't be afraid to experiment," WILLIAMS interjected. "It's the ability to experiment that will motivate and will drive us forward."
A Podcasting History Lesson And More From PRX's Jake Shapiro
JAKE SHAPIRO, CEO of PRX, gave the keynote address, calling podcasts the future and an innovation "punching above its weight" at the moment. He pointed to OCTOBER 8, 2014 as a major moment for podcasting, when IRA GLASS went on "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON" and announced the launch of "SERIAL" with a video showing how to download a podcast. Telling some of the history of podcasting, including the addition of podcasting into iTunes and how that arrested the development of a wave of investment for podcast-related companies, the launch of the iPhone, and the fundamental change of the last 18 months, the result of the explosion of mobile use (the smartphone being "way more intimate" than radios, even accompanying users to the bathroom), the public acceptance of on-demand media, and talent moving into the space -- "surprising, risk-taking talent can emerge," he said, but warned that the percentage of top talent is still small and "there's a drop-off" from the top 1% to the rest.
SHAPIRO cited statistics showing 46 million monthly listeners with median age 30 and 20 billion downloads to date, which he pointed out represent requests by people actively seeking out the programs (and resulting in high CPMs). And he noted that unlike "radio on the Internet" (illustrated by his use of a clip from HBO's "SILICON VALLEY," with a character loosely echoing MARK CUBAN), podcasts are more like the Internet itself, an open standard encouraging innovation and democracy (and necessitating curation). "One of the most exciting things (about podcasting) is that it's up for grabs," he noted, explaining his company's development of RADIOTOPIA and crowdfunding models. But he voiced hope that podcasting not turn into "little fiefdoms with paywalls" as subscription models take hold.
A Driving Influence
ROGER LANCTOT of STRATEGY ANALYTICS presented research about the connected car, illustrated by VOLKSWAGEN's ad campaign with actors ADAM SCOTT, MICHAEL PEÑA, and CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE using the cars' voice integration as a selling point. LANCTOT analyzed APPLE's CarPlay, GOOGLE's Android Auto, and consumer interest in the platforms (and others), as well as noting the confusion in the space caused by the competing platforms and unsettled market. And he pointed out that satisfaction for internet radio and HD RADIO are rising while satisfaction with AM/FM and satellite radio are declining (though AM/FM remains the leading "must-have" feature among consumers; real-time traffic and gas prices are the leading "must-have" content features desired by radio users).
The Advertiser's View
AUDIOHQ's MATT CUTAIR interviewed the DENTSU AEGIS agency's JENNIFER HUNGERBUHLER for the advertisers' view of online audio, noting the growth of audience but noting that the big spike in listenership and ad dollars came two years ago and slowed to 3-5% this year, and added that another spike in ad spending for online audio won't happen until the next spike in listening. Among frequent client questions about online audio is whether they have the "right mix" between traditional radio and digital audio and what the strategy is behind a particular buy; they also ask what competitors are doing to determine what they should do. Digital audio buys come from the general audio budget as an extension of radio spending at her agency, HUNGERBUHLER said, although she added that the agency's digital department also spends some dollars on online audio; regarding metrics, she said her agency "look(s) at everything," combining several sets of research to determine reach.
On programmatic, HUNGERBUHLER said that her agency's goal is to go programmatic 100% by 2020, completely automating the buying process. Podcasting "has gotten a lot more buzz" at HUNGERBUHLER's agency, she said, but she said not a lot of clients have used podcasts yet (although the majority of her clients are in the retail space). A major issue is the "evergreen nature of podcasting," causing timing problems for ad campaigns as well as tracking issues when live spots air out of flight or when a promotion is over, resulting in up to 25% waste as well as customer confusion when a promotion touted on a podcast has expired.
For the future, HUNGERBUHLER said that her agency would like to see more data on engagement.
Sounds Familiar: To Simulcast Or Not To Simulcast
Legendary programmer JOHN GEHRON moderated a panel on simulcast strategies with WIDEORBIT's SUSIE HEDRICK, CUMULUS' BILL HANSEN, ENTERCOM's TIM MURPHY, NUVOODOO's CAROLYN GILBERT, and SAGA's MATT NYSTROM discussing the pros and cons of simulcasting a station's broadcast programming over the Internet stream, opening with GILBERT offering research on what radio should do with "extra shelf space," comparing brand extension with adding additional program offerings. Streaming, she noted, has surpassed AM/FM radio among teens, and over half of PPM "likelies" are already using streaming, advising that, as PROCTER AND GAMBLE would fill extra shelf space at KROGER with more of its existing brands, radio should use streaming to extend its existing brand.
HEDRICK said that her company, which offers ad insertion for streams, is focusing on improving the quality of the ad breaks on the streams; NYSTROM's company was aggressive in switching to 100% simulcasts of its stations, spots and all, and he explained the process by which they decided to do so, a "product decision" at a time when the company was not subscribing to ARBITRON/NIELSEN and an attempt to improve the sound of the streams. MURPHY's company geofences its simulcasts, using a 100% simulcast within a station's DMA and inserting spots for outside the DMA to allow for a different set of advertisers to take advantage of out-of-market listening, taking care not to have "Flo from PROGRESSIVE" spots repeat over and over in those stop sets.
On the size of the streaming audience, MURPHY noted that the numbers "vary greatly by daypart and genre," ranging from 15-30% for sports in midday to less than 1% for passive music formats; nevertheless, he added that any programmer would be happy for a 2% increase in audience.
NYSTROM brought up his company's success in adding dedicated streams like an all-CHRISTMAS stream in COLUMBUS starting up next week that will effectively swap programming with the broadcast signal when the latter goes all-CHRISTMAS and the stream carries what would have otherwise been on the air, the standard AC format. And MURPHY said that, especially with spoken word programming, on-demand (time-shifted talk and sports programming in podcast form) options should be counted along with traditional ratings.
Programmatic And More
The issue of programmatic sales was addressed in a panel moderated by RAIN's BRAD HILL, with TRITON DIGITAL's MIKE O’NEIL, PANDORA's DAVE SMITH, MEDIAOCEAN's CORDIE DEPASCALE, and 22SQUARED's MANNY RODRIGUEZ looking at how the workflows and best practices are evolving to allow access to inventory using programmatic platforms as the industry moves from what DEPASCALE called "the wild wild west" of digital sales at present.
RODRIGUEZ admitted that for many clients, "programmatic" is a buzzword about which they know little other than that it's hot, but for some (and for him), it represents "smart" buying.
iHEARTMEDIA President, Insights, Research and Data Analytics RADHA SUBRAMANYAM's presentation touting the radio medium over digital took shots at display and banner ads (showing users unable to remember the last time they looked at those ads). Radio, she said, "is the most mobile of all mobile," remaining the "biggest mass medium" (reprising the often-cited figure of 93% reach), and "dominares with Millennials," just as it did in 1970. Her figures showed the average age of heavy radio users is 44, and while she said her company is "all in on digital," she noted that 90% of listening is still to AM/FM radio.
The Radio Landscape According To Kurt Hanson
RAIN Founder/Publisher and ACCURADIO Founder KURT HANSON gave his latest "State of the Industry Address," incorporating dogs, the beer industry, and JOHNNY OLSON to show opportunities in the audio business. He compared radio to the beer business, pointing to the 20% share for craft brewers as the growth segment of that industry as the digital audio business is the growth portion of the overall audio business. He reprised his rundown of statistics from EDISON RESEARCH's Share of Ear study as he did at the APRIL RAIN SUMMIT in LAS VEGAS, showing changing listening habits and recorded music industry trends. The decline in persons using radio has flattened in the past year, HANSON noted, but he chalked that up to the effect of Voltair. And he cited the sharp upswing in online listening since 2010, credited to the iPhone and subsequent boom in smartphones ("the new radio device"), as shown in the Infinite Dial study by EDISON and TRITON DIGITAL.
Among other HANSON observations: "Simulcasts never work," all the way back to days of FMs simulcasting AMs before the 1967 mandate of separate content; "new products and new brands designed for the new medium" like PANDORA are what will be successful on the digital side; PANDORA has quietly launched national television advertising, and the question of how PANDORA can ever be profitable is to "add a unit," bringing its hourly total to 5; revenue trends make it critical that radio embrace other delivery methods (and reminding the audience that radio, defined to include digital audio, is growing nicely); and the recalcitrance of the radio industry to adapt its business model, not only for technology but programming as well, is similar to the differences between cats and dogs (seen as conflicting models).
HANSON reiterated his analysis of the value of disruption from his LAS VEGAS speech, using his own ACCURADIO as an example of targeting an underserved audience and being first-in for a category.
Award Time Again
This year's 6th annual RAIN Internet Radio Awards winners included:
Best Single Stream Webcaster: oWOW!
Best Streaming Broadcast Station: ENTERCOM Sports WEEI-F/BOSTON
International Excellence in Online Audio: PLANETRADIOCITY.COM/INDIA
Best Podcast Series: NPR PLANET MONEY
Best Overall Digital Strategy: PRX
Best Overall Online Radio Service: PANDORA
Radio Show: The Pre-Game Festivities
The NAB and RAB note, "we’re putting the 'rad' in radio with an exciting lineup of events featuring luminaries from across the business. Prepare to be entertained by some of the hottest performers in the business at the NAB MARCONI RADIO AWARDS, where radio's finest are honored. Don’t miss the many parties and receptions where you can network with business partners and meet new colleagues."
THE RADIO SHOW's schedule TODAY:
- 1-4p: Career Networking Event
- 7:30-9p: Radio Show Kick-Off Party