20/20 Vision: Insights for the New Year

December 30, 2019

In 2020, radio will go back to the future. 100 years ago on election day, KDKA in Pittsburgh aired the first commercial broadcast.

Delivering results of the Harding-Cox presidential race before they were printed in the newspaper proved the power of radio and stations have been continuing to make the case ever since.

The upcoming election will once again be an important storyline for radio.

In the meantime, here are some key insights from 2019 that will continue to drive us forward.

1. The Resilience and Power of Radio

Nielsen Audio has been helping advertising giants, including Procter & Gamble, rediscover the power of radio. In 2019, advocates with independent data driven insights continued to emerge.

Research by Deloitte provides a powerful value proposition. Driven by full-time employment, the higher your education and income levels, the more you listen to radio.

Meanwhile, according to Pew Research, more Americans now get their news from radio than printed newspapers or social media.

2. Business Travelers are the Equivalent of Employed Radio Listeners 

According to American Airlines, business travelers represent just 13% of their total passengers, while delivering 50% of the revenue. As a result, business travelers generate 6.7 times more revenue than leisure passengers.

Business travelers spend more and travel more often. Same is true for your employed heavy listeners. They deliver more daily occasions and TSL, which drives ratings and revenue.

3. NFL Turns 100 in Style

In the midst of its 100th anniversary, the NFL faces ongoing attendance declines, fewer young people playing football as well as increased competition for their target audience’s time and attention.

Professional football has been around for 100 years, has $15 billion in annual revenue, faces a growing concern over the next generation along with increasing audience fragmentation. All of these could also be used to describe radio.

Yet over the next decade, the NFL is expected to grow its revenue to $27 billion per year.

What’s the secret?

“We have obsessed a lot over the last three or four years on game presentation, which I think matters,” said Barry Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer. He continued, “We always pay attention to them (the ratings), but it’s not as much week-to-week or year-to-year. It’s about how is it trending generally.”

This unrelenting focus on the user experience by the NFL has culminated in a year-long celebration that provides a playbook for radio to follow in 2020.

4. Organic Influencers Flex Their Muscles

According to an article in Social Media Today, “the influencer industry is undergoing a major shift towards not just micro-influencers, but organic influencers … the real people who already buy your products and services and create content about your brand – they’re your genuine brand advocates.”

Organic influencers live and breathe your brand. They know who to recruit and just what to say.

These Amplifiers and Super-Fans also have a direct impact on your marketing budget. The new listeners they recruit on your behalf deliver the impact of an additional 15-20% in marketing spend.

Our ability to identify and engage your best listeners and empower them to become a key component of your station marketing provides an enormous competitive advantage for our clients.

Looking Forward to the Year Ahead

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – The final regulations have yet to be finalized, so it’s impossible to predict the full impact, but for those who invest in direct relationships with listeners and build audience databases, there’s an enormous competitive advantage compared to relying on 3rd party data.

In addition to helping radio stations build relationships with those employed heavy listeners who matter most to ratings and revenue, we’re ready to accept Verified Information Requests, while also staying on top of similar consumer privacy measures as they make their way through other states.

It’s going to be a great 2020.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Tony Bannon, Jen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Happy New Year!

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Influencer Marketing: Unleash Your Super-Fans and Amplifiers

November 25, 2019


The infamous Fyre Festival leveraged social media influencers to hype a music festival that was doomed from the start.

Despite that massive black eye and other recent high profile fails, The Wall Street Journal reports that companies are continuing to increase their spend with influencers. In 2019, social media influencers will earn between $4 and $8 BILLION with posts costing up to $500,000.

Great work if you can get it, but generating a consistent return on investment is proving to be difficult.

According to one advertiser, “We thought influencers would be a silver bullet and bring all the traffic we needed.”

Part of the issue involves fraud. With so much money being thrown around and no independent third party measurement in place, influencers regularly buy fake followers to pad their stats.

This will cost brands nearly $2 billion dollars this year and the FTC is getting involved.

In addition, influencers posting about products that they don’t actually use is the definition of inauthentic, which is further reducing the overall impact with fans.

Your Super-Fans and Amplifiers

While paid social media influencer campaigns are facing increased skepticism from consumers, the role of authentic recommendations remains a critical component to your station marketing.

According to a recent article in Social Media Today, “the influencer industry is undergoing a major shift towards not just micro-influencers, but organic influencers … the real people who already buy your products and services and create content about your brand – they’re your genuine brand advocates.”

“They may have 5,000 Instagram followers, or they may have 50, but the size of their social followings aren’t as important as their passion, authenticity and collective influence.”

In fact, research suggests that people are 9.8 times more likely to take action after seeing a post from someone they actually know personally compared to a social media influencer.

For our part, we’ve been incorporating Tell-A-Friend/Audience Amplification into our station marketing strategy for decades, long before the term “organic influencer” even existed.

Our ability to identify and engage your best listeners and empower them to become a key component of your station marketing provides an enormous competitive advantage for our clients.

Organic influencers live and breathe your brand. They know who to recruit and just what to say.

These Amplifiers and Super-Fans also have a direct impact on your marketing budget. The new listeners they recruit on your behalf deliver the impact of an additional 15-20% in marketing spend.

For one of our top ranked stations this year, that’s an additional $98,000 in marketing simply by incorporating organic influencers into their 360º marketing strategy.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Jen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


More Than “Just the Facts” – Understanding the News Moment

October 30, 2019


In the current era of “fake news,” the notion of reporters “delivering just the facts” could provide a welcome
relief.

However, a report from Columbia University indicates that journalism, defined as “a factual reporting of current events,” has been in consistent decline, not since President Trump took office, but since the 1950’s when it represented 90% of all front page news compared to less than 50% today.

In its place, we’ve seen the rise of contextual reporting, which helps explain what the news means by offering analysis and interpretation. Meanwhile, investigative journalism, which is rightfully held up as the gold standard of reporting, remains flat over the decades at just 5% of all coverage.

Reporting “just the facts” is an exercise in objectivity. “Explaining what it means” is inherently a subjective process.

This distinction isn’t just a rhetorical exercise.

The News Moment

How the news is delivered and consumed has real implications across media organizations, including radio, especially as Gen Z continues to join the full time workforce.

According to a new report by Reuters, for those under 35 years old, “there is a high level of ‘background’ or ‘indirect’ exposure to news – through social media, other online conversations, bloggers, podcasts, documentaries and TV shows.”

More importantly, “Young people don’t need to seek out the news, as they feel that enough information comes to them.”

When the need for information does arise, the traditional news agenda is often perceived as negative and depressing, with headlines feeling narrow and repetitive.

In addition, “reading” can feel a lot like work (insert your own snow flake joke), which partly explains the growth of visual storytelling like Instagram stories and bite sized informational videos by Vox along with the growth of podcasting.

According to the researchers, what’s often overlooked amidst generational stereotypes is the impact of “the moment” on what a person is looking for in the news.

While a classic news moment might be seen as setting time aside to read the paper or watch the evening news, unsurprisingly more modern consumption requires different formats, tones and content better suited to the mindset, value and focus of the consumer in that moment.

For example, an entertaining, investigative long read is geared toward a Dedicated moment, while a short visual summary of the day’s news suits Updated. An interesting short video is a good Time-filler, while a talking point headline grounded in shared experiences suits an Intercepted moment. (see chart above)

According to the report, “Traditional news brands feel their job is to tell people what they should know. Young people want that to an extent but they also want what is useful to know, what is interesting to know and what is fun to know.”

The authors also suggest that understanding the expectations of different audiences and the “moments” they are in will be critical to drive engagement and occasions.

Media organizations need to make websites and apps easier to use for younger groups – as simple and intuitive as Facebook or Netflix.

Whether you’re a news brand or a music brand, your digital platforms and user experiences are being graded, not just against other radio stations and local media outlets, but against the most popular and intuitive mobile apps available anywhere.

How’s your station supposed to compete? According to author and tech guru Nir Eyal, “People don’t want something truly new, they want the familiar done differently.”

Ease of use is one of radio’s greatest assets. How are we delivering on that expectation with our user interfaces and voice command skills?

Station mobile apps and voice command skills provide a great opportunity for local radio brands to rethink the “moments” around radio listening. The listener has different needs and expectations for a 20 minute commute vs. an 8 hour work day.

Day-parts are a great example of how we’ve long provided listeners what they need, when they need it. The opportunity exists to take the on-air focus of super-serving the employed heavy listeners who matter most and providing them with even greater customization across your digital platforms, while maintaining the familiarity and ease of your core radio product.

When your target audience thinks of you first and thinks of you more often, that’s a winning combination. Generating that top of mind awareness across “listening moments” with your current and future P1s is not a task to be completed or a box to be checked. It’s a relentless pursuit.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Jen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


As the NFL Turns 100: Radio is Now on the Clock

October 1, 2019


Heading towards their 100th season, the NFL faced massive headwinds: concussions and brain injuries, half empty stadiums, kneeling for the National Anthem, and steadily declining ratings.

In fact, “Super Bowl ratings and viewership have now declined in four straight years, the longest streak of declines in Super Bowl history.”

Despite this combination of existential risks, the NFL remains a money making machine with revenue expected to grow from $15 billion currently to $25 billion in 2027.

Meanwhile, national brands like Lowe’s are not just walking towards the NFL, they are running to be associated with the shield.

“Let’s face it: The NFL is dominant,” Lowe’s Chief Marketing Officer Jocelyn Wong said. Lowe’s came to the NFL after ending a 17 year relationship with NASCAR.

Similarly, when Papa John’s cut ties with the NFL, blaming the player boycott for slumping sales, the league had a more valuable agreement with Pizza Hut finalized in 24 hours.

The NFL is 100 years old and facing smaller numbers of teenagers playing the sport as well as increased competition for their target audience’s time and attention.

100 years old, $15 billion in annual revenue, concern over the next generation and increasing audience fragmentation. All of these elements could be used to describe radio.

So what’s the difference?

“We have obsessed a lot over the last three or four years on game presentation, which I think matters,” said Barry Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer. He continued, “We always pay attention to them (the ratings), but it’s not as much week-to-week or year-to-year. It’s about how is it trending generally.”

This unrelenting focus on the user experience has resulted in reduced TV breaks. In addition, the NFL is riding the wave of two massive macro level forces: the popularity of fantasy football and the legalization of sports gambling.

Both factors give diehard fans reasons to watch more football, thereby driving occasions and time spent.

Radio: First in Audio

The original commercial broadcast on KDKA in Pittsburgh in November of 1920 provided election results. A century later, our democracy in action will once again be the biggest story of 2020.

According to Pew Research more Americans get their news from radio than printed newspapers or social media. Among those who get their news from social media, “57% say they expect the news they see on these platforms to be largely inaccurate.”

In addition, it’s increasingly difficult to figure out “real news” from manufactured/fake outrage. A reliable source of news and context is essential, especially for our employed listeners who are too busy to sift through all the daily drama.

Politicians governing and conducting diplomacy via Twitter is not going to end with the Trump Administration. It might be bad for world affairs and our republic, but it’s great for driving ongoing tune-ins.

In addition, the ability for music stations to serve as an oasis and provide an escape from the political craziness is an enormous macro level force that will continue to generate listening.

Also, just like in the NFL where Father Time remains undefeated, musicians won’t live forever. With so many icons in their 70’s, their passing will provide ongoing opportunities for radio to connect and engage with the audience.

Whether it’s Dolly Parton, Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney, even the Boss turned 70 last week, time doesn’t stand still. Factor in all those artists who will pass far too early and our employed A25-54 core audience will be looking to radio to celebrate these legendary lives.

Radio’s first 100 years have been filled with ongoing innovations in the face of new technologies and changing business conditions.

The reach of radio and the ability of stations to connect with the employed listeners who have money to spend with advertisers is a tremendous competitive advantage.

Not all listeners are created equal. By continuing to recruit and engage the heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue, radio is investing in a high margin business model, while using our strong local AM/FM brands to simultaneously grow incremental digital, podcast and event revenue.

Here’s to the next 100 years!

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith, Jen Clayborn, and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Open Letter to Radio: Focus on Your “Bread and Butter” and “Get Better”

August 29, 2019

Labor Day 2019

An Open Letter to Radio:

The last time the Radio Show came to Texas (Austin 2017), advertising giant P&G took the stage and encouraged radio to focus on your “bread and butter,” namely broadcast radio. “It’s a gimme. You’re selling water in the desert, you have what I want. How can you fail at selling me what I want?”

The reason this advice was necessary? John Fix from P&G recounted hour-long meetings with radio companies where for 50 minutes, “I will hear about everything you’ve never done but want to. I hear about podcasts you’ve never broadcast. I hear about targeting, and what I really want to talk about is how you can touch 93% of the United States.”

Radio is a daily companion for employed consumers, who advertisers need to reach. Meanwhile, people who are out of the workforce don’t listen to a lot of radio. They also don‘t have much disposable income to spend with advertisers.

As Procter & Gamble has ramped up its investment in radio, its stock price has followed suit and is trading at an all-time high. Not a bad testimonial for radio, especially for buyers and advertisers skeptical of radio’s enduring strength and dominance in a digital world.

As the saying goes, it’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there in the first place.

For radio to continue to grow and deliver strong ROI to advertisers, those of us working in the industry need to keep getting better.

In that regard, insights into athletic performance and what separates champions from the rest of the field are both interesting and informative.

Researchers have found that champions consistently have a unique reaction to challenges. They view obstacles in a positive light – as opportunities to grow – and overcome them thanks to a “never satisfied” attitude.

This runs in contrast to almost champions, who blame setbacks on external causes, become negative, and lose motivation.

Most notably, researchers have discovered that the best goal is also the simplest: Get better. 

Champions are driven from within. Their primary concern is self-improvement. They hold themselves to high standards, but judge themselves against prior versions of themselves, not against others.

Almost champions on the other hand, focus on external benchmarks, like national rankings or how they compare to rivals.

The research also found that champions seek empowering, lasting mentors. Coaches that empower their athletes and take a longer-term perspective. This differs from the experience of almost champions, who recall their coaches as being focused on immediate results, “often seeming to drive the bus more than the performer.” Not surprisingly, almost champions change coaches frequently whereas champions maintain long-term relationships.

These insights on what separates champions from others applies across radio: programming, sales, promotions, on-air, imaging, management, research, consultants, marketers, software providers, and on down the line.

Advertisers need people across radio to keep getting better and to continue delivering what they can’t get on any other platform – maximum reach to an employed audience with money to spend.

2019 has proven to be an important year for radio and 2020 should be a bumper crop that sets the tone for a new decade as we focus on growing industry revenue to $20 billion by 2022 (#20×22).

We are grateful to work with talented and dedicated professionals across markets and formats as we together enhance radio’s highly profitable business model and ensure an ongoing commitment to operating in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.”

This letter is the latest installment in an annual series that started in 2016, written to coincide with Labor Day, radio’s unofficial holiday, a claim made possible by the dominant percentage of listening that’s delivered by employed persons across markets and formats. Earlier editions of the letter are available here: 2016, 2017, 2018.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith, Jen Clayborn, and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for working to drive radio forward.

Happy Labor Day!

Andrew Curran
President and COO
DMR/Interactive


Amazon Treasure Truck: Inspiring Radio to Raise the Bar

August 9, 2019


With 1 million subscribers across 25 markets, the Amazon Treasure Truck is once again expanding its footprint with an aim to “deliver even more delight.”

It’s a pop up carnival featuring curated daily deals designed to foster brand loyalty and create “new daily habits.”

It’s also an advertising vehicle (both literally and figuratively) as Amazon puts the advertiser and their featured deal of the day on full display.

Supplies are limited, prices are low and the trucks don’t stay in one location for long. According to a article in Vox, “people come out rain or shine for the Treasure Truck.”

Along with picking up your purchase, most stops include free samples, but this is not some discount dumping ground.

“Everything given out on the truck must have a rating of four stars or higher on Amazon’s website, and if the rating slips, the giveaway will be canceled, the goods returned to wherever they came from.

In contrast, most radio remotes have become a box to be checked, which can’t be over soon enough. In a similar way, the prize pickup experience at stations is also a non-event.

Amazon Offers a Roadmap

As the saying goes, “success leaves clues.” Your Super-Fans and Amplifiers have tremendous passion for your brand. Give them and your advertisers an event that demonstrates the true power of your station and leaves them wanting more.

In the article “5 things you should know about Treasure Truck,” Amazon offers the following advice:

1. You’ll always be greeted by smiling faces – meet the delight squad.

2. Treasure Truck runs on happiness.

3. Act fast to get the treasure before it’s gone.

4. We love dogs. And wearing costumes. And especially love dogs wearing costumes.

5. Most treasures come in nifty red bags. Because treasure chests are too heavy to carry home. And these are reusable.

Smiling faces, fostering happiness, demand that exceeds supply, encouraging people to express their personality, taking home a bag that shows you’re part of the tribe.

None of these are out of reach for radio remotes and prize pick ups.

If you’re looking to further elevate your promotional efforts and front desk experience, here are a few more of our suggestions.

Cross reference advertiser locations with your Hot ZIPs as you schedule remotes. Segment your text and email databases into four geographic quadrants, allowing you to push targeted and relevant messages.

When it comes to prize pickup, roll out the red carpet and treat everyone in your target demo like they are a Nielsen panelist or diary keeper.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith, Jen Clayborn, and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Alexa: What Do Radio and Prime Day Have in Common?

July 8, 2019


Amazon Prime Day grabs so much market share – there’s a downturn in retail foot traffic not just for the day, but for two weeks surrounding the event.

That’s what happens when consumers gobble up 100 million items and spend $4.2 billion as they did last year. Up 33% from a modest $2.41 billion haul back in 2017.

Radio has also started cashing in on Amazon Prime Day as the e-commerce giant surged from outside the top 100 advertisers to #13 for the week last year according to Media Monitors.

In addition, rivals including e-Bay and Macy’s, have bolstered their investment with radio and stepped up their game for what truly has become Christmas in July for retailers.

According to a powerful study commissioned by Westwood One last year, “Heavy AM/FM radio listeners represent half of all Amazon Prime Day purchasers.” 

The blog post recap continues, “Full time employment and having kids in the home makes AM/FM radio the engine of e-commerce. According to Nielsen, the vast majority of AM/FM radio listening comes from Americans with a full time job. AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of the American worker. Most AM/FM radio programming formats over index with homes with children.”

These insights are also backed up by independent reporting, including Business Insider, which says, “While Prime members buy an average of $1,400 a year worth of stuff on the website, regular customers only spend $600.”

The disposable income that a regular paycheck provides certainly helps fuel this increased level of spending.

Winning More Occasions From Those With the Most to Give

Nobody knows the value of Prime members better than Jeff Bezos. Here’s what he said back in 2016: “If you look at Prime members, they buy more on Amazon than non-Prime members … they’re looking around to see, ‘How can I get more value out of the program?’ And so they look across more categories – they shop more. A lot of their behaviors change in ways that are very attractive to us as a business. And the customers utilize more of our services.”

Deepening the connection with the heavy users who have the most to give, thereby winning more occasions. Well said Mr. Bezos.

In his ongoing effort to recruit more Prime members, while keeping the ones he already has engaged and spending, he’s once again raising the bar.

This year as Amazon celebrates its 25th anniversary, Prime Day is now a two day extravaganza (July 15-16) with over 1 million deals along with a kickoff concert with Taylor Swift and friends on July 10th at 9pm that can be streamed, you guessed it, on Amazon Prime Video.

At a time when just 8% of consumers describe themselves as brand loyal according to the latest insights from Nielsen, focusing on the employed, heavy users who matter most applies as much to your business as it does to Amazon’s.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO