Radio’s Glass: Half Empty, Half Full or Overflowing?

May 11, 2018

For every 10 minutes of audio consumed by Americans today, more than 9 minutes goes to AM/FM radio.

In a fragmented, mobile world, this is the definition of market share dominance.


And the story keeps getting better.

AM/FM radio generates 720 BILLION more minutes of listening per month among P18+ than smart phone streaming audio, including the pure-plays. On an annualized basis, that’s an advantage of 9.3 TRILLION minutes per year (The Nielsen Comparable Metrics Report, Q2 2017).

720,000,000,000 per month/9,300,000,000,000 per year.

All those commas and zeros represent a jaw dropping advantage.

Politicians talk about billions and trillions as if they are interchangeable, so it can be difficult to truly appreciate the magnitude of AM/FM’s dominance.

As a point of reference:
One billion minutes = 1,902 years
720 billion minutes = 1,369,440 years.

One trillion minutes = 1,902,587 years.
9.3 trillion minutes = 17,694,063 years.
(Source: Google)

To put it in the context of dollars and cents, a million dollars is the height of a chair, a billion dollars is the height of the tallest building on Earth and a trillion dollars goes 600 miles into outer space.

In addition, 85% of listening to AM/FM Radio is done by people with a job, which means they have money to spend with our advertisers.

In the words of numbers guru, Good Will Hunting, “How do you like them apples?”

There are a lot of exceptional organizations advocating on radio’s behalf: NAB, RAB, Nielsen, Numeris, Katz Media, NextRadio, Radio Connects, state broadcasting associations, local market consortiums as well as network syndicators and broadcast ownership groups.

Yet, with all those groups telling our story, who’s the most important advocate for AM/FM radio? YOU.

Light a candle, rather than curse the darkness.

Further evidence? Look at the dominance of AM/FM radio in the Infinite Dial 2018 Report from Edison Research.

For many digital companies and platforms, it’s “fake it until you make it.” Not AM/FM radio, we’ve got the data and a passionate community of local listeners on our side. Not to mention profitability.

If there’s something “wrong” with radio, it’s how we see ourselves and allow others to perceive us.

The mobile and digital revolution is 25 years old and AM/FM remains the top reach medium at 93%.

Our audio dominance and employed audience provide an enormous competitive advantage. In fact, as people grow into their careers and make more money along the way, their AM/FM listening continues to increase. Music to the ears of our advertisers.

AM/FM is the 800# gorilla of audio and truly a brilliant, ad supported business model that allows the audience to access their favorite stations and content without a subscription.

Let’s celebrate what’s right with AM/FM radio.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone here at DMR/Interactive, thanks for driving radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

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Taking a Bite from Apple: Learning from the Best

April 16, 2018

“Success leaves clues.” With that adage in mind, I leaned into a recent Fast Company article that proclaimed, “Apple forms the tightest emotional connections with customers of any brand in the world.”

apple-store

It’s a bold statement, yet it’s readily believable and it stands in sharp contrast to the radio adage, “Find ’em. Fool ’em. Forget ’em.”

That’s bad dating advice, and it’s even worse when it’s a listener strategy and loyal fans are described as contest pigs.

On the other hand, Apple’s approach, “leaves clues” that radio can benefit from observing.

Apple Weaves Its Products Into Lives, Makes Itself Indispensable

According to the research by MBLM and Praxis Research Partners, Apple ranked number 1 in the study for “ritual,” which is the extent a brand is seen as being essential to users’ everyday existence. As one respondent said, “Apple brings me closer to everyone and allows me to be more productive and gets things done faster and easier.”

Insight for AM/FM: The relationship the audience has with their favorite personalities and station represents an invaluable emotional connection that provides listeners with companionship and access to the world during the solitude of drive time.

Being indispensable doesn’t mean you will remain there. What’s your strategy to retain and grow your P1s as you Surprise and Delight those who matter most to your ratings and revenue?

Apple Keeps Steve Jobs Alive

As Fast Company reports, “Apple products feel like they’re driven by a human vision, not by the cold calculations of some big corporation.”

Despite the fact he’s been gone since 2011, Steve Jobs still gives consumers an indelible link with a real, authentic person, and Tim Cook follows in those same footsteps.

“Historically Apple has made users feel that we are different or stood out from the crowd, we’re in it together.”

Insight for AM/FM: A human vision, not a cold calculation by a big corporation. Does technology allow stations to excel at being Live and Local or does automation simply generate more cost saving efficiencies?

This opportunity doesn’t rest exclusively with station employees. When an entire office is playing a contest and helping keep track of the clues and winning names, it feels like “we’re in it together.”

For example, when a national contest gets localized by inviting a winner into the studio to get their fifteen minutes of fame, as WEBN, the iconic rock station did here in Cincinnati last week, the brand comes to life.

frog
Apple Starts With The Customer And Works Backward

People often connect with Apple products because they seem to be built with an understanding of what the user wants (sometimes even before the user does). Key functions are radically simplified on the device and they usually “just work.” “Its products delight, it engages, and it delivers,” the researchers said.

With this in mind, Apple isn’t interested in being first to market.

Microsoft had tablets on the market decades before Apple. Same with Blackberry and smartphones. As Tim Cook said, “It doesn’t bother us that we are second, third, fourth or fifth if we still have the best. We don’t feel embarrassed because it took us longer to get it right.”

Insight for AM/FM: Despite living in a world increasingly dominated by smartphones and digital technology, the audience continues to overwhelmingly seek us out by listening on traditional radios, especially during their commute and at-work.

In fact, while stations want their content to be conveniently accessible across platforms, whether it be on a smartphone or a smartspeaker like Alexa, the reality is that consumption of AM/FM stations on those devices is very limited and will continue to be.

As a result, absent a clear audience-centric strategy, simply streaming your on-air content on more and more platforms, primarily designed for on-demand/personalized consumption, might be counter productive and never add much in-metro listening.

Along the way, the incremental effort takes attention and resources away from on-air content. execution and audience development, which has a clear and proven monetization strategy.

Overall, while Apple creates emotional connections around the globe, AM/FM radio has a similar local relationship with our employed P1s who drive ratings and revenue.

The challenge is to maximize our core AM/FM business model, while thoughtfully and patiently planning for the future.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Strengthen and Defend the AM/FM Mothership

March 20, 2018

Just like your listeners, not all mobile users are created equal.

Mobile expectations are rapidly accelerating, while consumer loyalty and attention waiver. Reports indicate 80% of App users churn every 90 days.


It’s a daunting task to keep filling the funnel at a rate that outpaces attrition, especially when so many users don’t matter to your bottom line.

In a world of fake social media accounts and bot traffic, who are the users that actually matter to achieving your business objectives? How do you most efficiently replenish App downloads with the heavy users who will deliver the highest lifetime value?

90-95% of station revenue comes from on-air revenue. As a result, stations are increasingly using their digital assets to strengthen and defend the AM/FM mothership.

If a user downloads your App, but doesn’t have a job, it will be very difficult for them to consume enough audio to matter to your brand.

According to Matt Lawson, Director of Marketing at Google, don’t base your analytics strategy just on the existing measurement tools that you already have access to. Instead, start with your key outcomes and determine the best way to measure those goals.

Employment is the #1 driver of heavy radio listening. How is this metric being measured among users who are downloading your App and interacting with your online platforms? From a ratings standpoint, Nielsen is measuring employed listening. On the digital side, the measurement tools are the easy part. The bigger challenge is to identify the overall strategy that serves the mothership.

App That’s More Popular than Uber or AirBnB

Hilton Hotels and Resorts has a long history of innovation from offering the first television in rooms to being the first on-site airport hotel.

According to Geraldine Calpin, Hilton’s Chief Marketing Officer, “Having a history of being good at firsts doesn’t keep you there.” The goal is to be “constantly raising the bar, not bumping into it.”

Hilton wants their best customers to have frictionless travel moments. Since we live on our mobile devices, why should the experience at their hotels be any different?

From advance online check-in, where you can select the location of your room to using your phone to unlocking the door without first stopping at the front desk to pickup your key, the app has you covered. Not to mention the lowest rates available anywhere online.

Providing a frictionless travel experience was brought to life with the Stop Clicking Around marketing campaign.


The results include 90+% retention rate for their App (when the average retention is 20%). In addition, the App’s rating went from 1.5 stars to 4.7 stars.

In fact, it’s the No. 1-rated hospitality app in the Apple Store, ranking higher than any competitor, third-party booking site or anyone else in hospitality, including Uber.

The success is not just limited to their app. According to Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer of Hilton, during a recent earnings report, “We feel great about our set up for 2018 and our ability to continue delivering record-setting results.”

Infinite Choice is an Illusion

Despite more than 2 million Apps available for download, when it comes to actual usage, infinite choice is an illusion. 90% of sessions involve using three or fewer apps with Facebook, text messaging and Amazon being consistently ranked at the top.

In addition, heavy mobile users – the top 10% overall – tap and swipe their screens a remarkable 5,427 times per day and spend 3.75 hours on their screen.

Despite this significant amount of daily consumption, the average mobile session lasts less than two minutes.

How Does Your Brand Stand Out?

In a hectic, fast paced world, people seek out familiarity and brands they know and trust. Fortunately, not all listeners are created equal so you can be selective about who you recruit and engage.

Although infinite choice remains an illusion, the power of heavy users is real. The top 10% of mobile phone users consume 50% more screen time than average users. In a similar way, your heavy P1s dominate your listening with 2-3% of your cume generating 50% of your total quarter hours.

As a result, there’s a great opportunity to recruit and engage the employed, heavy users who have the most listening to give and will generate the biggest impact on your ratings and revenue.

This mothership strategy encourages investment in new digital and mobile platforms, while recognizing that our core listeners continue to overwhelmingly seek us out on the radio, especially during their commute and at work.

Therefore, while we make our content conveniently accessible across platforms and on our App, the primary role of these digital initiatives is to compliment and enhance our core on-air business.

DMR/Interactive’s 360° Listener Engagement Strategy brings the mothership strategy to life by incorporating station digital initiatives within an overall marketing strategy that generates Top Of Mind Awareness and occasions with those employed, heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Easy Targets: Lessons from Airbnb and Uber

February 21, 2018

In our mobile world, if Airbnb and Uber are two of the winners, then hotels and taxi cabs are the easy-to-identify losers. However, nothing is quite so simple.

In fact, having just returned from Nashville following another vibrant CRS, they can’t build hotels fast enough. Same is true in many other places.

In fact, having just returned from Nashville following another vibrant CRS, down there and in many other markets, they can’t build hotels fast enough.

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, it’s not hotels that have suffered the most, but rather a different group that previously flew under the radar. Renters.

As you know from experience, business travelers prefer to stay in hotels. During the great recession, business travel slumped and hotel construction was hard to get financed. In the mean time, usage of “private accommodations” (Airbnb) surged. According to MoffettNathanson, between 2010 and 2015, the share of American travelers using these accommodations quadrupled.

By expanding the number of available beds in high demand markets, hotel prices have been stable, while occupancy rates are high. Travelers, hotel operators and Airbnb hosts all win.

The downside comes into sight, when you’re looking for an apartment or condo in a high demand neighborhood. Property owners no longer need to sell or turn in the lease, which reduces turnover and inventory.

More demand with lower supply equals higher prices.

Looking at Uber, it’s easy to think of taxis as being the easy target. However, a recent New York Times article reports that there’s another victim: public transit.

Based on a recent U.C. Davis study, between 49% and 61% of all ride hailing users would not have made the trip or would have walked, biked or used mass transit if a ride-hailing app was not available.

Uber is actually contributing to traffic problems with more cars on the road and reducing ridership on public transit. Certainly not what comes to mind, when I see taxi drivers queued up at the airport and everyone is using their phone to find their Uber/Lyft driver.

Where Radio Fits In

Pandora has long championed itself as the heir apparent to AM/FM radio.  However, as CDs get set to go away this summer at Best Buy and CD players have been removed from new cars including Honda Civics, it appears that physical music collections are the real endangered species.

Meanwhile, AM/FM Radio has a listening advantage of 720,000,000,000 minutes per month over pure-play streams according to Nielsen Audio’s Comparative Metrics Report.

That’s billions with a “B” and it’s driven by employed listeners who earn a paycheck and have money to spend with our advertisers.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO


The Facebook Manifesto: What It Means to Station Content

January 22, 2018

Have you seen the Post from Mark Zuckerberg? In recent years, stations have finally begun to establish their social media strategy and along comes this torpedo.

Image courtesy: DigiDay.com

According to Zuckerberg, “One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent … public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

Without calling your baby ugly, he’s calling your baby ugly. After all, organic content by stations on Facebook has never been about creating community and fostering conversations among listeners.

Instead stations blast out content simply to fulfill internal posting mandates, stations sell their organic posts to advertisers, and random videos are posted in a hopeless attempt to go viral. Exceptions are few and far between as we were discussing back in 2012.

Mark continues, “Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do – help us connect with each other.”

He continues, “We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.

Facebook redefining the rules is hardly new, after all it’s Mark’s world and we’re all just along for the ride when it comes to social media. That’s why we believe your digital and social strategy should be centered on an enduring principle such as the role employment plays in heavy listening rather than chasing likes, posting just to be prolific or trying to go viral.

In addition, if you’re waiting to be thanked for all the free on-air promotion and publicity that AM/FM Radio has provided Facebook over the years, easily valued in hundreds of millions of dollars, don’t hold your breath.

When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

At DMR/Interactive we are excited about these changes. There’s a great opportunity for stations to adjust priorities away from creating underperforming Facebook posts and instead repurpose staff time and efforts to drive on-air ratings and revenue.

1. For most stations, Facebook owns the relationship and access to the listener. Stockpiling Facebook likes was the priority early on instead of collecting listener data and getting to know these employed listeners by name, especially the in-demo Super-Fans in your Hot ZIPs. In fact, we’ve used ads on Facebook to capture opt-in contact permission on millions of employed, heavy listeners, so our clients can stay in touch with them, even when Facebook rewrites the rules. Just remember your ABC’s. Always Be Collecting Data.

2. If it wasn’t a relevant organic post, simply spending money to boost it won’t help. There will be a temptation by stations to simply put a little money behind your organic posts in an effort to delay the inevitable and avoid revamping your current strategy. Of all the constraints station employees face, having too much to do and not enough time to do it, is close to the top of the list. Don’t miss a great opportunity to free-up their time.

What to do instead?

3. Surprise and Delight your in-demo contest winners in your Hot ZIPs. Stations roll out the red carpet for advertisers, but are mostly indifferent when a winner comes in to pick up a prize. A handwritten note, a quick tour of the station and an invitation to take a picture in the studio (using their phone) are all things these most valuable listeners will remember and share, especially on Facebook of all places! PromoSuite Next makes it easy for your station to implement this strategy.

Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla of social media and your last organic post has not yet been written. However your organic strategy needs to keep pace with the times.

As Mark mentions in his post, it will take several months to fully roll these changes out, so let’s talk about how to best leverage Facebook in your next marketing campaign and how to further optimize your organic strategy.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO


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.

Orville
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