Netflix Has Done to TV; What Pandora Can’t Do to AM/FM Radio

December 26, 2017

Looking to recharge your batteries and hit the ground running in the New Year? Spend a few minutes with this End Result, featuring insights from the Age Marketing Fact Pact 2018.

There has been much fanfare surrounding the Internet overtaking TV as the #1 ad platform in the U.S.

What you may not have heard about is AM/FM Radio surpassing both Magazines and Newspapers, improving its position in the media landscape from fifth to third in ad revenue.

What’s even more remarkable than the Internet’s rise in prominence since 2000 (+31.3%)?

How about TV being up (+1.3%) since Y2K. That’s despite cord cutting and Netflix overtaking Cable TV, something that Pandora has tried, but failed to achieve against AM/FM Radio.

In fact, these issues for TV are being compounded with a massive and sustained ratings decline. Media Analysts MoffettNathanson recently issued a report, Worse Than We Thought. According to coverage from Inside Radio, the Wall Street analysts concluded, “When this year started … we were deeply concerned about C3 ratings. The fact is, ratings declines in 2017 were even worse than we imagined with seven of the past eleven months declining double digits.”

What Do Advertisers Want?

In an column entitled, TV’s Cry for Help, columnist Shelly Palmer shares this insight, “Marketers have never wanted to buy a GRP or a CPM. They want to drive velocity or brand awareness or create purchase intent or some other metric of their own choosing. They’re not governed by how well they buy ads, they’re governed by revenue, and everyone is under extreme pressure to perform.”

AM/FM Radio’s Leading Value Proposition

When we position Radio as providing “Cheaper Reach than TV,” we are selling ourselves massively short. More importantly, a race to the bottom on rate doesn’t help advertisers “drive velocity” and certainly doesn’t help Radio.

What rings the cash register? Reaching those with money to spend. People with a paycheck listen to AM/FM Radio. 

In fact, each month, adults in the U.S. (18+) consume 700 BILLION more minutes of AM/FM Radio than pure-play streams. That’s an advantage of almost 600 BILLION quarter hours per year.

At the same time, while unemployment is less than 5%, that doesn’t mean everyone is working. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 150 million American adults work, 100 million are out of the workforce. They are at home watching TV.

The current Golden Age of Audio isn’t being driven by podcasts or streaming, but rather by the sustained strength of AM/FM Radio. In 2018, there’s a great opportunity to increase the share of the overall advertising pie being allocated to AM/FM spot revenue.

Radio’s ability to “drive velocity” for clients is directly related to growing your audience with the right mix of employed, heavy consumers of radio, while keeping these Super-Fans and Amplifiers actively engaged with your brand, so they are consistently thinking of you first and most.

Want more fuel for 2018? Read the Ad Age Marketing Fact Pact 2018.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone here at DMR/Interactive, Happy Holidays and thanks for working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


The Grocery Cart: Revitalizing Processed Food Brands in Organic World

November 27, 2017

Imagine for a moment, you have an iconic morning show featuring Orville Redenbacher. For decades, a beloved personality who has fallen out of favor with today’s consumer.

Welcome to the world of the Conagra Brands management team, except it’s not just one iconic brand, but much of their processed food portfolio.

In recent years, the tastes and buying habits of American consumers have evolved from canned foods to fresh ingredients and the packaged food industry is scrambling to catch up.

According to Bob Nolan, senior VP of insights and analytics of Conagra Brands in a recent Ad Age article, “We wanted to make one thing, we’d sell it everywhere to everybody and that’s not the paradigm. We want to sell the right food for the right folks at the right time.”

The article goes on to say, “Delivery services such as FreshDirect, Instacart, Peapod, and a variety of meal kits, give people fewer reasons to wander the aisles of their local supermarkets. People also graze throughout the day and cook less, eliminating the need to keep freezers stuffed with chicken pot pies.”

Less occasions and shifting consumption patterns. Without knowing it, Nolan is also describing radio and the shift from broadcasting via the transmitter to streaming and on-demand audio consumption.

A Familiar Refrain: Flat is the New Up

Conagra generates annual sales of $7.8 billion, down from $15 billion a few years ago when they started selling off assets and streamlining their portfolio. This fiscal year (ending in May) sales are expected to be down 2%. That performance is in line with General Mills, which is also expecting sales to be down 1-2%. Some analysts optimistically believe one or both could have flat year over year numbers.

Yet the Glass (or in this case the grocery cart) is Half Full, Not Half Empty

Darren Serrao, chief growth officer of Conagra Brands, shares this perspective: “It has nothing to do with the strength of the brands and everything to do with the products that represent those brands.”

While subscription based food kit start-ups such as Blue Apron connected with both consumers and investors out of the gate, in recent months both Blue Apron stock and the company overall have faced significant head winds.

In part, the recent difficulties for food kit start ups stem from Conagra expanding its product offerings by adding supermarket-distributed frozen meals and kits for dinners, such as chicken fajitas.

In a similar way, Conagra recently introduced a new line of Healthy Choice Power Bowls. As frozen TV dinners have fallen out of favor, applying the name recognition of the Healthy Choice brand to the popularity of Power Bowls is quickly gaining traction.

The way that Conagra is marketing its brands is evolving as well. Rather than the traditional one size fits all strategy, they are identifying and targeting specific consumer use cases and creating multiple versions of the messaging and creative.

For example, P.F. Chang’s sauces and frozen meals are purchased for a variety of reasons. People looking for a quick and easy meal, others who are interested in trying new flavors, but don’t have the culinary skills to make their own Chinese food, as well as those looking for a budget friendly version of going out to dinner or ordering carry out.

It’s not good enough for a brand to own a broad category image, such as Chinese food. Rather the opportunity exists to understand your heaviest consumers and the reasons they regularly use your product and segment the marketing strategy accordingly.

To borrow an analogy from retirement investing, this approach of segmenting target consumers and crafting unique messages for each group is similar to buying mutual funds instead of an individual stock.

Conagra was founded in Nebraska in 1919. Reinventing the business won’t happen overnight, but as they approach their 100th anniversary, they’ve already begun the heavy lifting.

As Conagra’s Nolan puts it, “What made you successful today is the worst possible thing that will make you a failure in the future. It’s easy to get comfortable, saying, ‘We’ve always done this.'”

The iconic Orville Redenbacher and other beloved consumer brands remain, but their product lines are being updated along with a targeted marketing strategy that focuses on connecting with their heaviest users.

For AM/FM radio, while our 700 billion minute per month advantage against streaming is real, we need to be enhancing and communicating the value proposition that we offer employed listeners in the unrelenting mobile world. By communicating targeted and unique messages off-air, you’ll win ratings today, while also building for tomorrow.

Whether it’s new ownership, new competition or just wanting to jump start the new year, we can help. Let’s discuss your competitive situation and how to invigorate your ratings and revenue. Send us an email or call 859-957-1581.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO

Let’s Relaunch Presidential Weekly Radio Address

November 27, 2017

Like a media buyer who inherited a bad spot schedule and wasn’t able to attribute sufficient ROI, President Trump has put his weekly radio address on hiatus.

For a President preoccupied with Making America Great Again, what a huge mistake this would be to permanently walk away from radio.

With 85% of radio listening being done by employed persons, there’s no better platform (Twitter included) for President Trump to talk directly with the people who are the ones Making America Great Again.

If we’re expecting the administration to come to this radio centric conclusion on its own, we can instead look forward to the weekly Facebook Live/You Tube events that the current and future Presidents will deliver.

Regardless of what you think about his politics, it’s in radio’s interest to keep the President of the United States on the air.

The patchwork network of stations and weekend time slot are components that should be examined, but for an administration that has relied on unscripted Tweets as its primary communication strategy, the opportunity to provide context and perspective on current events as well as look forward to the week ahead is invaluable.

Take a moment and consider the optics for our industry of a White House meeting with Rush, Hannity and Seacrest highlighting the strength and vitality of AM/FM radio, while President Trump announces a revitalized weekly radio address.

AM/FM Radio: Audio Dominance in a Mobile World

October 29, 2017

In the decade since the iPhone debuted, the world has been transformed by mobile devices. Despite this ubiquitous adoption of smartphones, AM/FM radio sustains its overall dominance in the audio space.

What makes AM/FM radio’s continued strength in a mobile age possible? In a single word: Employment.

at work

Each month, adults in the U.S. (18+) consume 700 BILLION more minutes of AM/FM radio than pure-play streams. That’s an advantage of 50 BILLION quarter hours, based on national audience data from Nielsen Audio’s Comparative Metrics Report, Q1 2017.

Everyone in radio can recite statistics about reach, but that’s only part of the story. The ongoing power of radio rests with our employed audience, which consumes enormous amounts of AM/FM radio in the car and at-work. Best of all for advertisers, this audience has money to spend.

When economic headlines mention 5% unemployment rate, the obvious assumption is that 95% of adults are working. By extension, this same logic would indicate that every advertising platform is equally effective at reaching these most sought after consumers. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that is simply not the case. 40% of U.S. adults are out of the workforce. That means 150 million Americans work (60%) and 100 million American adults do not.

Heavy listeners of radio are overwhelmingly employed with 85% of consumption among A25-54 being driven by people with jobs. Even on the younger end, among P18-24, approximately 63% of listening across markets and major formats is driven by employed persons.

The reason for this difference in listening isn’t due to smart phones or overly simplified theories about listening habits of millennials, who are already the largest generation in the workforce. It is because P18-24 are always less employed than their older counterparts. Decade after decade, this younger demographic has never been the driving force behind radio listening.

As station programming super-serves its employed audience, radio sellers need a more compelling story, not just to win ad dollars from other radio stations, but more importantly away from local TV and print.

The employment angle is compelling, not simply because it’s a long held programming fundamental, but because these are the consumers who advertisers want to target and reach, people with a paycheck and money to spend.

As recent natural disasters remind us, radio stations take their unique public service mandate seriously.  A similar public interest obligation can be brought to life by the sales team in terms of radio’s ongoing impact on the local economy. By putting advertisers in direct contact with employed persons, radio’s ability to deliver ROI and help businesses grow, which leads to job creation (and more listening) is enormous.

We recently discussed these employment and consumption insights with Erica Farber, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau on the Radio on Main Street Podcast.

We’ve also made a slide deck available to bring these points to life and empower radio groups and local stations as they advocate AM/FM radio’s position of strength in a mobile world.

Whatever challenges might await radio in the future, let’s not take our eyes off the prize now. 700 BILLION minutes and an employed audience are two huge chips that radio needs to keep cashing in.


Andrew Curran, President and COO

Employment: The Key to Unlocking Your Online Strategy

October 1, 2017

There are 2.8 million apps available for download and the average person interacts with their smartphone more than 1,000 times per week.

Despite unlimited access and an infinite choice of options, most interactions with the phone involve just two or three apps, with text messaging and Facebook dominating mobile usage.

In addition, nearly 60% of all Google searches are now done on mobile devices. Looking at the most popular searches offers additional insights into what people do with their phones besides catching up with friends.

While it is important that your brand and your website have strong Search Engine Optimization performance, not a lot of traffic is generated by people searching for local media.

What are they using search for? Primarily, it’s based on learning and discovery.

Google just released a list of the most popular “How To” keyword searches. On the surface, the top results are random and inconclusive. 

  1. How to tie a tie
  2. How to kiss
  3. How to get pregnant
  4. How to lose weight
  5. How to draw
  6. How to make money
  7. How to make pancakes
  8. How to write a cover letter
  9. How to make French toast
  10. How to lose belly fat
  11. How to write a resume

Now consider the fundamentals of radio listening. It’s driven by employment, which empowers drive time and at-work consumption.

With that in mind, let’s look again at #1, #6, #8, #11. They all connect with work.

1. How to tie a tie
6. How to make money
8. How to write a cover letter
11. How to write a resume

As you look at creating compelling online content, how much (if any) currently ties back into what people are naturally searching for along with the added benefit of connecting to the #1 driver of radio consumption… employment.

Even # 4, #10, #7, and #9 can easily be viewed through an employment lens.

4. How to lose weight
10. How to lose belly fat
7. How to make pancakes
9. How to make French toast

#4 and #10 connect with self-confidence, which is certainly a valuable attribute in a job search as well as when you are in pursuit of your next promotion or are just going through another 40 hour week.

Meanwhile, when it comes to getting out the door on time and still enjoying the most important meal of the day (#7 and #9), what about sharing life hacks for making breakfast?

Last but not least, radio is always looking for ways to connect and engage with younger audiences. Some tasteful creativity involving #2 and #3 (kissing and getting pregnant) would generate compelling station content and drive engagement.

It all starts with a deep understanding of your audience and the fact that 85% or more of your listening is generated by employed persons who turn on your station in the car and at-work.

Let’s use radio’s talent and creativity to generate digital content that people will more readily discover and share because it reflects the topics they are already searching for.

When your brand is top of mind with the employed listeners who matter most, it allows you to win more listening occasions and drive your ratings and revenue.

Let’s discuss how your digital content can drive listening and ratings. Send us an email or call 859-957-1581.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO

Open Letter to Radio: Insights on Generosity and AM/FM Listening following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

August 31, 2017

An Open Letter to Radio,

Surrounding any natural disaster, there are a series of predictable events including an outpouring of charitable giving and a surge of radio listening.

While the generosity of charitable giving is viewed through the lens of “America at its best”, which undoubtedly is true, radio listening will be held by some to a different standard.

Critics and skeptics will contend that while radio listening increases during and immediately after a disaster, it goes away almost as quickly as it came. In some cases, radio’s role moving forward is predicted to be “perhaps only existing as emergency frequency.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As people in Texas, Florida and other areas hit by these hurricanes benefit from an enormous outpouring of nationwide support, does anyone believe that people merely “rediscovered” generosity? Of course not.

We all know that America is generous 365 days per year. Our charitable spirit simply gets magnified in times of disaster and crisis.

The same is true of radio. 24/7 we are operating in the “public interest, convenience and necessity” and the audience knows it. In their cars and at-work, radio usage by Americans is unrivaled. Radio is their preferred destination, not an option of last resort.

When a natural disaster strikes, people don’t “rediscover” radio anymore than people “rediscover” generosity. Instead, they double-down and magnify their daily media habits, which means listening to more radio.

Hearing a trusted voice is even more important during times of crisis.

Another important connection between generosity and radio is employment. You cannot donate money that you don’t have.

The same is true with radio. People don’t listen on their couch at home. The vast majority of AM/FM listening is driven by employed persons.

We know all of this to be true about radio – the challenge is having the courage to believe it.

Despite the current political climate and variety of mobile audio platforms, the role of generosity and AM/FM radio in the lives of Americans is not only secure, it’s vibrant.

Here’s to celebrating what’s right with radio and the world.


Andrew Curran
President and COO


Online Vanity Metrics: All That Glitters is not Gold

August 7, 2017

“The promise of mobile is to make people’s lives easier, not to occupy their attention.”

Sage advice from a recent Harvard Business Review article that challenges brands to think beyond the smartphone.

In fact the article contends that most brands get their digital strategy wrong, in part because they don’t reassess it often enough as the world becomes increasingly mobile.

What often ends up getting measured by default? Vanity metrics.

Page views, email list size, Facebook fans and app downloads are all examples.

What should you be measuring instead?

Start with the end in mind. What is the desired outcome of your mobile strategy?

Since we know that even your best listeners (1+ hour per day), spend 90%+ of their lives away from the radio, a goal of your mobile marketing strategy should be to win their next listening occasion, which most often occurs in the car and at-work.

With this defined objective, you can segment your mobile strategy by daypart to offer relevant and compelling content that drives consumption and engagement with your brand.

The first step involves getting your programming and promotions team on the same page. If this isn’t being done at least quarterly, each new hire is a great opportunity to revisit your overall mobile goals and strategy.

From there, you can identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as email open rates, text club members that can be matched to a profile in your database and social media engagement metrics.

The exact number and metrics to include will vary, but according to the HBR article, there are a couple of important considerations.

Everyone on your team should understand how to read the data and everyone should have easy access to the data (could be as simple as sending out a weekly email). In addition you should develop a rolling average that gets tracked over time.

While digital is growing quickly, it still represents just a fraction of radio’s overall revenue. The most efficient pathway to station revenue is through consistent ratings and growth.

Ignore the hype and noise around vanity metrics and focus on the data and heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue.

To discuss the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are right for your situation, send us an email or call 859-957-1581.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO