It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: For Your Favorite Charity

December 19, 2016

The iconic Salvation Army Red Kettle embodies generosity to others during the holiday season (it also recently got some further love during a Cowboys game). In December alone, Americans donate $70 billion to charities nationwide.


Although many people take time off the week after Christmas, it’s crunch time for non-profits with 10-12% of all donations for the year coming in between 12/28 – 12/31. In addition, two-thirds of all giving during the year, comes from just 5-10% of donors.

The handful of households that make a significant difference is as true for radio as it is for non-profits along with the realities of limited time and resources.

Leading charitable organizations embrace this concentration, because it is much more efficient and effective to generate donations from a few (heavy P1 listening), rather than trying to get $1 from every household in town (cume).

Meanwhile lesser non-profits take the approach of focusing on donor acquisition, which actually comes at their own expense.

A Leaky Bucket

As reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, for every 100 new donors added, charities lose 103. That’s the definition of a leaky bucket, especially considering individual giving peaked in 2005 and still hasn’t recovered more than a decade later.

A big part of the problem is that new donors are less loyal then repeat donors. In fact, just 19% of first time donors are retained compared to 63% retention for repeat donors.

But here’s another insight that leading non-profits know … heavy donors (those who give $250+) are 150% more likely to continue giving than those who give less than $100. Not only are they worth more, but they are also more loyal.

Obviously every major donor at some point made their first gift and every current heavy P1 had an initial tune-in, but the driving force for successful charities and radio stations alike is to get more out of your current fans before recruiting new ones. In addition, there’s an opportunity to understand the characteristics of your current Super-Fans, so you can focus your recruitment efforts to get more people just like them.

Charitable organizations that regularly outperform their peers follow these donor retention strategies, which have a variety of relevant applications to radio.

1. Send donors a personalized thank you after each donation. By “personalized” it doesn’t simply mean a mail merge, but rather for example, a picture of someone who directly benefited from the gift. Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s twice as hard to replace a donor.

In radio, do we cross reference people who purchase tickets to a station event with people in the VIP email club and send these Super-Fans any acknowledgement? How about people who come to a remote at your station’s #1 advertiser? Simply look at the entry forms for the giveaway and if they’re in a Hot Zip, drop them a note.

2. Learn about your donors, including their philanthropic passions, family, and employment. For most stations, in depth listener knowledge is defined as the database records that have a name, address and email.

Are they employed? If so, what’s their regular work schedule? Do they have kids? All basic information that can be systematically gathered over time, which will allow you to better engage and monetize your audience.

3. Schedule donor-centric events such as networking opportunities or appreciation luncheons. Many stations just rolled out the red carpet for their client holiday parties. Ever done something similar for your best listeners who drive your ratings? An easy place to start would be to super serve contest winners who come to pick up their prize vs. getting them out the door as quickly as possible.

4. Be confident and ask for the next gift. Don’t just assume you’ll automatically get it. Just like charities need to consistently ask for the next donation, we need to ask for the next tune-in. The most common reason people don’t give is that they weren’t personally asked. Yet, charities believe all they do is ask people for money. What’s the disconnect? The request needs to be personal, frequent and compelling.

Same is true for listening occasions. People have a lot of choices and if they aren’t literally in front of a radio, are they going to Google your station homepage to find the stream and start listening? Cut out the middle man and make it easy on your audience with direct links to listen online.

Some underestimate non-profit organizations, because they focus on the mission and overlook the strategic component that’s essential to ongoing success. For more information on maximizing your approach to the few who matter most to your ratings and revenue, drop us a line.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and the rest of the DMR/Interactive team, thanks for reading and driving radio forward.

Happy Holidays from all of us here.

Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive.

Food for Thought: The Bottomless Bowl of Infinite Scroll

December 9, 2016

Ever noticed you or your spouse scrolling endlessly on Facebook? What starts as a quick look turns into 10 minutes of time spent randomly wandering through Facebook.

It’s no accident… welcome to the bottomless bowl of infinite scroll. This doesn’t just apply to social media, it’s hard wired into human DNA. According to Cornell University, when someone is given a bottomless bowl of soup, people eat an astounding 73% more than if they have to refill their own bowl. This type of behavioral economics is a key aspect of the Facebook business model, which worth noting, generated $7 billion in revenue during their latest quarter.

Humans are inherently lazy. While you might think that it doesn’t take much effort to click on a link at the bottom of a story, it’s more effort than Facebook believes is necessary and they are not alone.

But what about page views? Take a look at ESPN… the Worldwide Leader in Sports. As the bottomless bowl moves from one article to the next, the address in your URL changes without the user doing anything. Here’s an article about the NFL MVP race, as you scroll from one article to the next, pay attention to your URL.

Meanwhile for daily newspapers including the legendary Page Six, it’s still a page view strategy built on one and done.

Not to be outdone, while trying to increase page views and time spent, radio websites are almost exclusively one and done as well. When you click on a story or article on any station site, you can scroll to the bottom of the bowl (article) in 3-5 seconds. True both on mobile and desktop. Radio would do well to emulate Facebook and ESPN, while distancing itself from the user experience found on local newspaper sites.

On-air, radio isn’t just competing with stations up and down the dial and it’s even more true online.

The people visiting your website are highly engaged fans. Why not keep their attention longer and keep your brand top of mind with an updated web strategy. It could be the perfect gift to give yourself this holiday season.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and the rest of the DMR/Interactive team, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend: DOL’s 12/1 Overtime Rule Set to Impact Listening

November 21, 2016

Radio’s at-work dominance is unparalleled among media platforms. Across formats and markets, 75-80% of the audience is employed with 65% of weekday listening happening away from home.

For radio this doesn’t just represent a 40 hour work week, it represents 160 available quarter hours. More realistically a 50 hour work week represents 200 quarter hours and on down the line.


Starting next week, the available quarter hours for millions of non-exempt American workers might take a hair cut as employers are in the process of making final HR decisions to maintain compliance with the FLSA.

These changes provide plenty of food for thought about radio’s role in the workplace.

After all, getting in the car and arriving at work are the two most important Moments of Truth for radio… the point when consumers turn on their preferred audio companion.   

For our part, these overtime changes have inspired us to revisit radio’s connection with its core consumer: employed persons and we offer these observations.

1. People are Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Even after these changes take effect, non-exempt workers aren’t going to feel like they’ve won the lottery. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, almost 50% of Americans are unable to cover an unexpected $400 expense.

It’s a big reason why incentives matter. Even non-cash giveaways such as gift cards and movie passes help stretch a family budget.

Looking out at this economic landscape, understanding the role of incentives for Nielsen households, along with how important at-work listening is to heavy radio consumption, this year we officially trademarked Double Your Paycheck for use by our clients in addition to other Win@Work messages.

2. The Gig Economy and 9a to 5p Schedules: Every time you see the Post Office delivering Amazon packages on Sunday, it’s a reminder that a set work schedule is no longer guaranteed even for the Cliff Clavin’s of the world.

In fact, according to the Government Accountability Office, 40% of all workers are now contingent (temps, independent contractors, part timers, etc). When a station starts its “workday” at 9am with 90 minutes commercial free, are we unintentionally writing off members of the Gig Economy who regularly work non-traditional schedules? Not to mention full time employees working four 10 hour days or who telecommute and have been at work since 7am. How is radio winning their Moments of Truth?

For many of our marketing campaigns, we provide a listening grid so people can customize their contest entries based on their work schedule and when they can listen.

3. Radio Makes the Workday Better: Our most fundamental value proposition in winning Moments of Truth is that people enjoy listening to the radio. This was the in depth finding of Britain’s RAB back in 2011 in a report entitled, “Radio: The Emotional Multiplier” and it continues today.

People act in their own self interest. Faced with a variety of audio entertainment options, each day people seek out their favorite radio station to make their commute and workday more enjoyable.

When given the opportunity to meet a DJ or tour the station, Super-Fans are like kids on Christmas – they can’t get enough.

The American workday continues to evolve and radio will innovate along with it as we find new ways to serve our core consumers: employed persons.

To discuss how you can make the most of the changing workday and the 160 quarter hours it represents, please send us an email.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and the rest of the DMR/Interactive team, thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving.

Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive

More Cowbell: Radio’s Untapped Mobile Advantage

October 24, 2016

SNL is doing some of its best work with the Trump-Clinton debate parodies. Another iconic skit, More Cowbell, featured Will Farrell, Jimmy Fallon and Christopher Walken and speaks to the crossroads where radio finds itself.

Does radio double down and give audiences and advertisers More Cowbell or focus on reinvention in the mobile space?

Fresh off his best July since 2012 with Q3 up 8% over 2015, Art Sutton, President and CEO of Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting, had this to offer Tom Taylor last week about what drove their strong results, “Nothing special or unique going on in our company. Just doing the simple basics consistently.” In SNL parlance, More Cowbell.

Sutton continues, “We’ve always had far too many people in the radio business who are looking for the latest ‘new’ thing, when all they need to do is do the ‘old’ thing better. You do this when you really don’t believe in your own product or simply don’t know how to do good radio.”

As an industry, radio is going to have difficulty achieving $20 billion in revenue by 2022 (#20×22) solely on digital growth. In the long run, we will succeed by increasing the monetization of our core products.

Why can’t radio predictably rely on digital growth? Because increasingly, digital revenue belongs to just two players: Facebook and Google.

According to AdAge, Google and Facebook collectively earn “72% of the digital and mobile revenue outside China.”

The story continues, these two giants “are gaining even more sway, thanks to a legion of employee teams dedicated to most of the largest U.S. and global advertisers, sometimes embedded with marketing departments and always closely aligned.”

These Facebook and Google employees are part of global advertising agreements and have a role, “unlike anything the marketing world has seen before.”

For other media companies, trying to win digital business from the outside is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. At the same time, the world isn’t standing still and AM/FM radios are increasingly hard to find in homes, work places and even cars, so what can be done?

Enter the California Roll

According to author and tech startup guru Nir Eyal, “People don’t want something truly new, they want the familiar done differently.”

Take for example sushi. Back in the 1970’s Americans wanted nothing to do with raw fish, tofu and seaweed. “Then came the California Roll … its impact is undeniable. The California Roll was made in the USA by combining familiar ingredients in a new way.”

Another example, early computers. By using familiar terms/icons like folders, notepads and trash cans, the complexity of this disruptive technology was made accessible and familiar.

Citing a more recent example, Nir reminds us that “the rebranded Apple Wallet helps users feel comfortable with the technology by making payment options look just like mini credit cards. Even though there’s no technical reason to do so, Apple understands the power of the familiar.”

What does this mean for radio? When it comes to the mobile space, radio is not playing to two of its core strengths: ease of use and familiarity. As the car becomes increasingly complex and we compete with more platforms for attention and loyalty of the audience, we are at a disadvantage trying to replicate apps and interfaces designed by digital brands instead of leveraging the best parts of a radio interface that consumers already understand.

In fact, customization and the ability to skip songs are two of radio’s biggest weaknesses, which are exposed rather than softened when the mobile experience of a station feels more like Pandora and Spotify than radio.

Imagine station streams and apps designed as presets on a radio interface featuring all the stations in a local cluster including their online only streams, making it as easy to switch from one station to another on a phone as a traditional car radio. Familiar done differently.

As his Eyal’s Nir and Far blog points out, “Our aversion to things that are outside the norm is particularly hard on companies producing radical innovation – no matter how beneficial they may be. If using a new product does not feel familiar, it faces severe challenges.”

According to BJ Fogg with Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab, “People are generally resistant to teaching and training because it requires effort. This clashes with the natural wiring of human adults: We are fundamentally lazy. As a result, products that require people to learn new things routinely fail.”

Our P1 Super-Fans and Amplifiers seek out their favorite radio station 2-3 times per day. They certainly want More Cowbell from radio, we just need to leverage our familiarity and ease of use to drive occasions and TSL on mobile devices. Otherwise, we risk audience and revenue erosion as we try and replicate digital only brands on the infinite dial.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and the rest of the DMR/Interactive team, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive

Perception is Reality: And Reality Can be Altered

September 26, 2016

While a cross section of radio professionals gathered in Nashville last week, the digital ad industry was getting itself into some hot water with advertisers, which radio would be wise to use to our advantage.

After all, the question isn’t whether or not radio advertisers also spend money with Facebook? Instead, the question is how much do your best advertisers spend with Mark Zuckerberg? Based on the chart below, digital’s hockey stick growth has left radio just above “other” in overall spending.


In addition, this chart shows that instead of focusing on buys going to other radio stations, account reps need to focus on expediting the decline of local print and rally around growing radio industry revenue to $20 billion by 2022 (#20×22).

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook announced last week they “overestimated by up to 80% the average time people spent watching video ads on its platform.” In addition to the lack of independent and trustworthy digital measurement, the WSJ reports that advertisers are concerned, “they are wasting billions of dollars on ads that aren’t ‘viewable,’ or visible to the human eye, or are being shown on sites with computer-generated fake traffic.”

The world is speeding towards a digital future, but it doesn’t mean there’s not room for some reasonable doubt that allows advertisers to tap the brakes.

The story gets better, according to Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, “Marketers are reassessing the level of investment in the digital area because they are beginning to question what they are really getting in terms of the return on investment.”

Although one of  radio’s favorite past times is to poke holes in the ratings, it’s the independent third party measurement that Nielsen provides, which stands in stark contrast to the go it alone metrics provided by digital networks.

“The primary concern for me is the walled garden needs to disappear and they need to be treated like other vendors with a level playing field,” said Ron Amram, vice president of media at Heineken.

“If we don’t get broad third party verification in the digital media industry, it will impact how marketers invest their money,” said Keith Weed, Unilever PLC ’s marketing chief.

It isn’t radio’s job to soften the impact of Facebook’s self inflicted wound. After all, the overstatement has been going on for two years and according to Marketwatch, “Due to the miscalculated data, marketers may have misjudged the performance of video advertising they have purchased from Facebook over the past two years. It also may have impacted their decisions about how much to spend on Facebook video versus other video ad sellers such as Google’s YouTube, Twitter, and even TV networks.”

Maximizing this opportunity isn’t just about taking advantage of this moment in time, but to also more confidently tell our story, which begins with leveraging the relationships stations have with their Super Fans and Amplifiers.

An anonymous audience is a thing of the past. For more information on how to recruit, engage and build relationships with those who matter most to your ratings and revenue contact us today.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith , Tripp Eldredge and the rest of the DMR/Interactive team, thanks for reading.

– Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive

An Open Letter to Radio: $20 billion by 2022 (#20×22)

September 5, 2016

Below is an open letter to the radio industry: Published Labor Day 2016


As a radio professional, regardless of your title, market size, level of influence or years left until retirement, this is for you. As the media landscape continues to rapidly evolve, radio’s ongoing vibrancy in a mobile world will be hard fought, just as it has been for every generation dating back to Marconi. The talent, dedication and passion for radio that exists in our industry will serve us well. In fact, together, we represent the proverbial “cavalry.”

With the arrival of another football season, the words of Coach Lou Holtz ring out, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.”

Yet, according to PWC’s annual Entertainment & Media Outlook report, radio revenue is projected to grow just .84% per year between 2016 and 2020 ($17.8 billion to $18.4). That level of growth won’t even keep up with inflation.

According to Coach Mike Ditka, “In life, you get what you tolerate.”

Radio must focus on sustainable growth, which means as dollars shift between media each year (more for Facebook, less for print), we need to be winning dollars not from radio stations across the street, but from other media, specifically print, local TV and Pandora.

If the experts are predicting, .84% avg. annual growth, we can do better. Radio’s aim should be $20 billion in annual revenue by 2022 (#20×22), which can’t be achieved by cannibalizing ourselves (avg. annual growth of 2.05%). Some might say this is not ambitious enough, but let’s add the first $2 billion in revenue and grow from there.

In order for this growth target to happen, radio needs to rediscover its swagger. This includes continually telling a compelling story to our own industry, to our listeners who have ever increasing media choices and most importantly to the advertising and financial communities. Right now, in the midst of the key Sept/Oct/Nov PPM ratings and fall diary book, is the perfect time to start.

In fact, this Labor Day provides an opportunity for those of us who work to create and monetize the power of radio to stop and consider the unique competitive advantages of our medium and double down on bringing them to life for advertisers and listeners. At the end of the day, the most important story is the one you tell yourself. Are your beliefs moving radio forward or holding radio back?

Every quarter hour of every day, radio delivers “Can’t Miss Moments” that audiences tune in to hear and advertisers pay to be part of.
(1) Radio has an actively engaged audience, which efficiently generates results for advertisers. You don’t hear it the first time, it’s gone. In a world of 8 second attention spans, radio stands out. Take TV, which is much more passive in part because there’s a digital safety net. Viewers can be less engaged knowing they can pause and rewind to catch anything they missed, not to mention the ability to skip ads altogether. In a similar way, digital platforms freely acknowledge that 50% of impressions never get seen by human eyes. For the other 50% of digital ads, they are viewed in the midst of display and pop up/pre roll clutter.

In addition, the lack of a safety net in radio, works to benefit on-air talent as they broadcast live without a “second take” and always have to be at their best. Unlike TV, which records and edits many shows until they are just right, (Stephen Colbert’s premiere on CBS made headlines because it almost didn’t make it on–air with all of the edits), radio benefits from a more relatable experience as both talent and audience know it’s the broadcast equivalent of a 2 minute drill in football.

(2) This authenticity strengthens radio’s relationship between the audience and the on-air talent.  These one to one  connections help raise money for well deserving charities and drive response to an advertiser’s call to action. In addition, radio’s core audience is full time employed, which means they have more income to spend with advertisers and are active mobile consumers visiting retailers.

(3) As these relationships drive more tune-ins and avg. daily cume, the ability to increase the size of the audience without adding incremental delivery costs is a tremendous competitive advantage compared to digital platforms. In fact, not being burdened by these variable bandwidth costs helps radio make money and ensure healthy margins, as other ad supported digital audio platforms can’t turn a profit despite significant audience growth.

Radio is the 800 pound gorilla of audio and will continue to lead the industry forward as we deliver “Can’t Miss Moments”  on the way to #20×22.

As President and COO of DMR/Interactive, I have the privilege of working with radio groups across markets and formats. Each day we help build and strengthen the relationship between radio and the listeners who matter most.  

The passion that listeners have for radio’s “Can’t Miss Moments” can inspire an industry wide conversation that is strategically shared internally and with the advertising and financial communities.

Join the conversation or start one of your own. Use hashtag #20×22 and contribute your thoughts. You can also email and together we’ll continue to create a vibrant future.



Andrew Curran

P&G Scales Back Targeting for Reach: “And Now the Rest of the Story”

August 29, 2016

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on changes that P&G is making to its Facebook advertising strategy.

The highlight that many in radio have grabbed onto is that the world’s largest advertiser is scaling back on targeted ads in exchange for more reach.

Radio regularly promotes itself as the largest reach medium in America, so you can imagine the high fives in the hallways and people proclaiming, “Reach is back, baby.”

However in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, “And now the rest of the story.”

While Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief marketing officer makes the point, “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow,” he continues, “and now we’re looking at: What is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision?”

According to Peter Daboll, chief executive of Ace Metrix, which tests ads for effectiveness and works with Facebook, “The bigger your brand, the more you need broad reach and less targeted media.” However the article continues, “Targeting is paramount for advertisers trying to get users to download a game app or a small business trying to appeal to local customers.”

Most radio advertisers aren’t billion dollar brands. They are small local businesses that thrive when ad platforms deliver their message to enough of the right target customers … that’s the power of local radio.

Takeaway #1: P&G wants the “right precision”

Despite radio actively promoting itself as the largest reach medium, that’s not our best strength. Unless a client is buying ads in the same quarter hour across every rated station in a market (along with appropriate frequency), you don’t have true reach.

Instead, local advertisers have great results buying a handful of stations with a combined share of just 15-20% of the market, which means that 80-85% of the radio listeners will never hear the ad. Radio offers the “right precision” and best of all, the target audience the advertiser is reaching is employed with money to spend.

Meanwhile, how’s our continued focus on reach doing in terms of driving revenue growth?

Last year, while radio was down slightly year over year, Facebook’s ad revenue was up 49% and hit $17 billion. In 2016, Q1/Q2 revenue for FB surpassed $11.7 billion, well on the way to $20-$25 billion for the year.

Takeaway #2: Despite disappointing ROI, P&G isn’t cutting back on Facebook, they are investing in it

How many times have radio sellers been told by a prospective local advertiser, “I tried radio and it didn’t work.” In reality, the campaign was likely underfunded with a bad schedule, not to mention copy that was written by the customer.

Following a campaign, the first question to a client shouldn’t be, “Do you want to run the same schedule again?” Instead, the question should involve understanding if the investment surpassed the agreed upon business objectives.

In addition, we know artists love hearing their song on the radio, how about your advertisers? Surprise and delight them with an MP3 file featuring the last few seconds of a great song, a DJ interacting with a winner, followed by the client’s ad in the first position of the break. Making the investment aspirational and something they want to talk about, not a race to the bottom for the lowest rates.

“Business owners want today the same thing they have always wanted when it comes to marketing and advertising, they want it to work. They want to see sales increase or leads increase, they want a return on their investment. Sales people that are focused on helping business to achieve that ROI will become more and more valuable,” according to Matt Sunshine, Managing Partner at The Center for Sales Strategy.

On the programming side, despite the universal recognition of ratings volatility, programmers are not often given the freedom to develop and optimize station marketing. The funding gets pulled and allocated elsewhere, even after it works. Worst of all, programming jobs are lost as the search for the mythical magical bullet continues in earnest.

In the WSJ article, “A Facebook spokeswoman said its partnership with P&G “grows every year” and the two companies learn from one another. “That has always been the spirit of how we work together and challenge one another,” she said.

External collaboration and consistency are keys for both sellers and programmers.

Insight #3: Winning Brands Invest in Themselves

The article discusses the merits of reaching one million people compared to 5,000 people with a more targeted ad. This conversation is built upon a premise of consistent advertising budgets and execution … it’s what winning brands do.

While radio knows its best customers consistently run schedules, as an industry we aren’t practicing what we preach. With budget season about to begin in earnest, how many groups will make funding station marketing a real priority in 2017?

Radio’s lack of consistent investment in marketing is taking place at the exact time when mobile usage of other audio platforms is exploding and there is more competition for both audiences and advertisers.

Not to mention the elephant in the room, driverless cars. Ford has just announced mass production by 2021. Uber has already accelerated the timeline by rolling out driverless vehicles this month in Pittsburgh.

Going back to the earliest days of Marconi, radio has continued to face emerging threats and new competition. Today is no different. Tomorrow, the pace will likely quicken.

As an industry, we already have our running shoes on, now’s the time to lace them up a little tighter.

Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive