December 3, 2013
The consumers' growing use of digital platforms may not be a secret anymore, but it's anything but old news. In fact, this year's Jacobs Media's Tech Survey9 and its DASH conference both illustrated just how essential it is to be where the listeners are -- online, mobile or in the car. Jacobs Media is now gearing up for its TechSurvey10 to give you the answers to better connect to your digitally-attuned audience. Here, Jacobs Media Pres. Fred Jacobs outlines how this year's survey addresses the most pressing concerns.
A quick recap of Tech Survey 9 - what, in your mind, were the most important revelations your study found?
TS9 was the first year we broke out the data generationally and that turned out to be a great way to look at radio listeners and their changing habits. We saw those distinct differences in media usage and habits that go beyond traditional demographics.
We also identified the growing brand consumption that is taking place digitally that Arbitron was not truly measuring - the way that listeners use station content on the stream, on apps and podcasts. While overall radio listening may be slowly eroding, the reality is that radio is not getting the credit for the "non-traditional" listening and consumption it gets. That one was an eye-opener.
Finally, we saw clear evidence that ownership of "connected cars" is having an impact on radio, providing consumers with more choice on the road. Obviously, that was part of the information that led us to put together the DASH conference here in Detroit this past fall.
What revelations from TechSurvey 9 did you feel warranted further examination in TechSurvey 10?
We're going to break down this Millennial issue to better understand radio's challenges with this all-important generation. TS10 also includes Gen Z - or today's teens - who are as different from their parents as the '60s kids were from their moms and dads. If you want to understand Millennials, you need to focus on their younger brothers and sisters. That's where the change starts.
When we're doing our job with our Techsurveys, we identify important industry issues, concerns and problems. Our very first study in '05 blew open the "cellphone only" issue. We were very early on the social media and mobile explosion, identifying the importance of radio apps. And the "connected car" is most certainly the next chapter in the mobile media story.
With the rapidly changing state-of the-art in high technology, what's the optimum shelf life of such research?
The key factor is trendability. By conducting these studies year after year, we have that longitudinal look at how core radio listener habits are changing on an annual basis. That's how companies can best put together strategies at the local market level. Because most broadcasters rarely have the time to include the kinds of questions we ask in our Techsurveys, these studies provide a unique look at how their listeners are using technology and media over time.
What are the biggest new issues TechSurvey 10 will cover compared to the last year's survey?
We're going take a look at interest in tech wearables like Google Glass and the iWatch concept. It's early, but we want to generate an early benchmark here because it's about portability - something near and dear to radio.
We're going to expand our questions about "connected cars" and radio app usage to better understand radio's role in these critical spaces.
We'll look at how radio's "playlist" competitors like Pandora and Spotify are holding up, as well as how stations can best stand apart from pure-play competitors. Instead of debating whether a service is "radio" or not, our goal in Techsurvey is always to understand how consumers use these new platforms, and better understand how radio can provide unique differences that will grow the medium's vitality.
And of course, more data about radio's role in the social space, and a deeper look into which platforms matter. Because we're continuing to break out data by format, we have that ability to draw some amazing profiles about how Country, Sports Radio, and Classic Rock radio listeners must be handled, treated and connected with differently. With 12 different formats, we have some great narratives.
What radio formats would be particularly impacted by those issues?
They all are, of course. But we've identified some key differences by format. For example, listener recommendation is highest among Christian radio fans, while Twitter usage is through the roof for Sports Radio P1s. We also have learned about the importance of the "connected car" among News/Talk users, and why personalities are the "secret sauce' for Mainstream/Active Rock fans. Every year, our format profiles expand and get richer, providing answers broadcasters can't get from traditional research that typically measure "meat & potatoes" issues like music tastes and "who's the concert authority?"
Can each radio format get specific info that unique to their respective formats - and how can they best utilize that information?
Subscribing stations receive a Media Usage Pyramid that clearly shows how their own station's core audience uses media, gadgets, and technology using 20 different data points for comparison. And they receive a pyramid for their format, allowing them to simply compare where they stand vis a vis their radio peers. As consultants always say, all stations are very different even if they're in the same format, and our Techsurveys bear that out.
How much of your data will prompt short-term programming strategies - and how much will benefit the station long term?
From Facebook to Pandora to smartphone ownership, Techsurvey stations receive that usage profile that helps guide everything from digital strategy to on-air promotional tactics. Understanding what your listeners are doing and using guides the long game and this weekend's giveaway prizes.
Stations have limited resources and need to be sure they're deploying people and dollars into areas that are congruent with their audiences. Knowing which songs are burned out is one thing - having a deeper understanding about how your listeners are using digital, social and mobile gadgets is critically important for planning long and short term.
A year ago, JacAPPs tied in with the Ford Development program. How is that going ... and will more automakers get involved with you?
We're entering year 2 in our partnership and will be back out at CES with Ford next month as their AppLink program continues to evolve and become more valuable to radio. This is an exciting space, and another reason why we knew the DASH conference was an important way for us to let the automakers see radio's interest in the space.
Every radio gathering now incorporates the "connected car" in its agenda. Later in the month, I'll be co-presenting at the Nielsen Client Conference (and Jacobs Media Summit) with Strategy Analytics' Roger Lanctot and Nielsen's Ian Beavis. And I'm excited that your Worldwide Radio Conference will have its own "connected car' session, showing once again just how important automotive is to radio. This is just the beginning.
What's your view of the App world and radio today? Is it more essential to have them now than ever before?
We've barely scratched the surface. Broadcasters have done a great job in this space, but there's so much more potential to provide content and experiences via mobile devices. Apps like iHeartRadio have made their mark, but by the same token, thousands of radio stations from companies big, medium and very small have also developed their own branded apps. In what other space can a mom-&-pop station in Mendocino have a more robust app than a New York City station?
And it goes beyond traditional app. jacAPPS just developed a game app for WCSX here in Detroit - "Deer Hunter" - that exploded last month, generation more than 15,000 downloads in just a few weeks. It was a sponsored app that illustrates just how important great radio stations can be in the mobile space. This strongly suggests the ability of stations to leverage their brand equity to provide better user experiences - and to generate sponsorship revenue.
We will continue to explore the role that mobile apps play in the radio experience in Techsusrvey10. Google's mantra is "Mobile first," meaning that every innovation and initiative they develop has to have the mobile component. Radio would be smart to follow in their footsteps.
Also last year at this time, we asked you about the danger/dependency on focusing too much on the technology at the expense of content. Is that still an issue and how does TechSurvey 10 address that?
It's a bigger issue than ever -- and something that we talked about extensively at DASH, especially with our superstar DJ panel. Radio needs to do more than build mobile apps and have Facebook profiles. As our Techsurveys have clearly shown, stations are fighting the war on two fronts. There's the traditional battlefield - other stations in town they compete with for ratings and "radio dollars." And then there's the larger, three-dimensional war that includes these digital competitors.
So it cuts both ways. Radio needs to be sure its content is available on every platform that matters to consumers, but it also has to provide that all-important difference that sets its local brands apart from iPods, Spotify and satellite radio. We may call it a "tech survey," but every year we include many questions that help radio better understand its role in the media ecosphere. Radio needs to expand its view to think about how it competes against outlets they don't see in the Nielsen reports -- yet.
Is the importance of understanding the technological changes in radio growing with each year ... and what are the dangers of essentially sitting on the sidelines as the industry evolves?
If consumers don't find your content on their preferred platforms and devices, they won't be around long. That's one of the reasons why our Ford partnership is important, but it carries over to mobile social, and all the other places where consumers congregate. Just turn on your TV this month and take a look at what's filling up their commercial clusters. It's all about gadgets and technology, and radio can't afford to fall behind.
How can radio stations get involved in the survey - be it as a subscriber or a non-subscriber?
Either way works. There's a participation fee of $300/$400/$500, depending on market size. That allows any individual station -- all formats -- to take part in Techsurvey10. They receive their local listener data -- the most important piece -- that shows how their audience compares to the national format trends. This is the only survey of its kind in radio where a station's actual listeners are the respondents.
Stations can pay in either 2013 or 2014 depending on how their budget picture is shaping up. Subscribers get to participate in our executive summary webinar, and receive all their data, along with their format and national totals. It's a great investment in their brands.
But if finances are tight, any station can participate at no charge. While we cannot provide local data, any station that takes part in TS10 will receive an invitation to the big webinar. So either way there's value to participation.
Last year, more than 260 stations from across North America took part in TS9. We want to be as inclusive as possible.
We go into the field in early January, so there's time to sign up this month. It's as simple as going to www.jacobsmedia.com/techsurvey10 and filling out the simple form.
They can also contact Lisa Riker at Jacobs Media for more info: email@example.com