Hivio, Day 1: Effective Audio Ads, New Platforms, And More
June 2, 2016 at 4:52 PM (PT)
HIVIO, the "future of audio" conference, opened THURSDAY afternoon in WEST HOLLYWOOD.
What Works (And Doesn't) In Audio Advertising
The schedule kicked off with co-founder MARK RAMSEY presenting data from a study of listener attitudes towards audio advertising.
Asked about the ads they are likely to pay attention to, the respondents said they are very likely to pay attention to spots that are relevant to their needs and interests; are funny or clever; are clear and straightforward; offer surprises; and/or tell a story. On which forms of ads attract attention, the most likely to draw attention are very short spots, but the shortest doesn't lead: 5 second and 15 second spots get more attention than 2 second spots. Long spots - 60 or 90 seconds - were at the bottom of the list, leading RAMSEY to ask why anyone would waste 60 seconds on one spot or one endorsement. "Why sell length rather than impact?," he asked, noting that precedents for shorter-is-better include six-second Vines, but also noted that relevant, funny, clear, surprising, story-telling spots can hold attention longer.
On what makes ad messages work best for them, respondents stressed that spots should be short, funny, to the point, and relevant; turn-offs were dominated by "long," followed by loud, annoying, and boring. RAMSEY pointed out that even if long, annoying spots work, listeners will move on to a competitor if there is a better option presented.
Pandora Looks To Its Future
PANDORA VP/Digital LIZZIE WIDHELM was the first guest to take the stage with RAMSEY, stressing the advantage of audio advertising when display ads are impractical or ineffective (as in the car). WIDHELM described experimenting with TACO BELL on using different-aged voices on different spots with different target audiences and seeing increased impact from that adjustment; she also pointed to opportunity in personalization of ads, with RAMSEY asking if advertisers could at some point insert the user's name into the spot (WIDHELM noted that it can be done today with display). The discussion also covered PANDORA's assemblage of listener data and how it is being used for acquisitions (like in ticketing) and other areas, adding that "discovery and personalization has to be in the DNA of everything we do" as the company evolves and matures. Asked why PANDORA added "SERIAL" and "THIS AMERICAN LIFE" to its offerings, WIDHELM said that PANDORA listeners do not want to leave the service's environment, so "why not bring it in if we can?... (and) it produces more and more data for us," especially considering the ability to track the logged-in user.
Building New Platforms, Extending Brands
RED SEAT VENTURES co-founder CHRIS BALFE discussed his work building GLENN BECK's THEBLAZE and MERCURY RADIO ARTS and how his new company helps talent and producers build new platforms in digital and traditional media that fit their needs. BALFE discussed in more detail RED SEAT's work with "DIRTY JOBS" host MIKE ROWE in developing his new feature; ROWE, he said, had the idea for a PAUL HARVEY-like feature but needed someone to help him produce and distribute the segments, which are now ranked high on iTUNES charts. He added that the demand for podcasts has made his company more aggressive in developing content for that medium, asserting that talent, rather than content, is king now. BALFE also outlined what RED SEAT is doing for BLUMHOUSE, the horror film production company, for which a new website ("the home for all things scary") was developed, as well as podcasts. He discussed what he would address for a hypothetical program for HOWARD STERN (boosting STERN's social media presence and sharability), and noted how he brought ROWE's feature to syndicators and found that format restrictions meant that there was resistance, but podcasting eliminates those restrictions and, with the show "doing great," if the segments never make it to terrestrial radio, "it's radio's loss."
How NPR Became More Than Radio
NPR VP of Programming and Audience Development ANYA GRUNDMANN offered a presentation on the public radio network's success on the digital front, pointing out that while some see NPR as representing "old media" in digital, the reality involves a different spirit, even as it sticks to BILL SIEMERING's founding mission statement of serving the individual and stressing personal growth, the varied human experience, and active constructive participation. The presentation focused primarily on NPR's successes in leveraging its platforms to "allow us to rethink who we are on a constant basis" and bring in younger audiences, and on NPR ONE and how the network is using the app to gain access to data and test programming, measuring when listeners skip to a new story. She offered some "early observations" from NPR ONE on winning story intros (including "get to it," although pre-rolls are okay, and that the subject and hook are paramount for storytelling podcasts), how opt-in selections are differently experienced, and how the network has developed a "Devotion Score" metric for determining which stories and episodes do best with the audience. And she noted that the company's podcasts have altered the way the broadcast network shows sound as well.
The Sound Of Young America
MAXIMUM FUN founder and public radio ("BULLSEYE") and podcast ("JORDAN, JESSE, GO!") host JESSE THORN discussed how he built his network, helped MARC MARON start "WTF," and what MAXIMUM FUN does for shows (ad sales, fundraising, marketing). The network has 12 employees and distributes two dozen shows; asked about how many downloads the shows get, THORN would only say that the network draws "a sh-t-ton" of downloads, ranging from "tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands" per episode. THORN also described the network's "retreat" event MAXFUNCON, bringing the core audience to a rural location for a gathering and shows. He claimed that the network's advantage is "we actually believe in the sh-t that we do," putting out content that they want to bring to the world; "It's easy to extend that brand when the brand is actually things that you care about," THORN noted. Interestingly, he said that having "BULLSEYE" on conventional public radio doesn't really drive listenership for the podcasts, although it helps as a calling card in some applications.
The (R)Evolution In Audio Advertising
VERITONE MEDIA President RYAN STEELBERG presented an overview of his company's innovative Cognitive Media Platform spoken word measurement and verification system and collecting data and generating analytics to help transform audio advertising and programming. He first, however, gave a history lesson about the beginning of radio, tracing the development of network radio and advertising markets to the advent of network TV, which almost immediately commanded much higher advertising rates and meant radio needed to find a new programming and advertising model. The development of the radio show clock, he noted, has remained in place through today, and while AM/FM radio continues to have 93% reach, consumption has changed -- his new TESLA Model X, he pointed out, does not have AM radio. forcing him to find his favorite station, ESPN Sports KSPN-A (ESPN LA 710AM)/LOS ANGELES, through TUNEIN, but the version online, he noted, has different ads. With broadcast radio competing against new digitally distributed material, radio has to change, and it can use native ads to do so -- he projected that native ads will drive 74% of all display ad revenue by 2021. VERITONE is indexing all of ESPN material to verify live reads in real time, and STEELBERG said that the measurement is a result of his own agency having to immediately verify for clients. He also pointed out the benefit of indexing to allow a listener to be able to access and hear all clips about a particular topic.
Contesting With A Higher Purpose; Social Media Marketing
OMAZE raffles off one-of-a-kind, celebrity-studded "experiences" for charity, and co-Founder-co-CEO RYAN CUMMINS was on hand at HIVIO to talk about the company's origins and explain how the promotions work. He said that charities, not just his company, need radio and podcasts to use their engagement to draw participation from their engaged listeners. Next, public relations firm BECK MEDIA & MARKETING Founder and CEO TODD BECK talked about social media activation for major brands and explained in detail how his firm develops social plans for clients and reaches out to journalists as influencers.
Storytelling And Sharing
Consultant VALERIE GELLER stressed storytelling in her segment with RAMSEY, advising talent to consider how what they're talking about matters to listeners, and themselves. "If it's real, if it's authentic, there's something magical in that," GELLER said of audio. GELLER noted how people in LOS ANGELES reacted to WEDNESDAY's murder-suicide at UCLA and how broadcast and social media were together the venue for people to discuss what happened; the interview included many tips on how to make shows more effective, including using more descriptive language and engaging audiences.
And CLAMMR co-Founder DAVID SILVERMAN closed the afternoon with a presentation on the "rise of spoken on-demand audio," which he said is "in the precipice" of moving from mass awareness to mass behavior as in-dash "infotainment" systems "have arrived." The category, he noted, includes not only podcasts but audiobooks, with large increases in revenue for both media. Infrastructure issues are part of why podcasts have yet to hit mass acceptance, however, and the difficulty of discovery, he noted, is hindering that growth, as are other elements: they are, he said, too long, not optimized for social (can't be shared like short video clips), and increasingly crowded. SILVERMAN's company offers one solution to the sharing problem by allowing listeners to create and share clips of podcasts via social media.
Day two's agenda includes PANOPLY's ANDY BOWERS, talent manager HOWARD LAPIDES, RECODE's PETER KAFKA, ALPHA MEDIA's STEFAN BROCK, ESPN's TRAUG KELLER, ACAST's SARAH VAN MOSEL, HUGE's PATRICIA KORTH-MCDONNELL, and "TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE" podcast co-creator GLENN MCQUAID.
Watch the live stream for free here.