Written Sep. 9, 2010 in Blogging + Podcasting + Social Networking with 0 Comments
Next month, I will again be attending Blogworld in Las Vegas (Oct. 14-16), which is now the largest gathering of new media content creators and social media practitioners in the world. If you have ever wanted to learn more about getting your station's blog up and running, effective Facebook strategies, or what the heck to Twitter about, there simply is no better one-stop education than attending all three days of Blogworld, for FAR less than a consultant would charge you :)
I'll be making a special presentation at Blogworld this year on Podcasting, which will go a bit beyond the scope of our traditional consumer research presentations. I'll be presenting some updated figures on Podcast usage, but also taking a look back through five years of trended data, advertising research and best practices to give attendees a comprehensive, analysts-eye view of where Podcasting is today, and more importantly where it's going.
Pretty much anyone I could recommend to you as a new media/social media resource is going to be at Blogworld. Even if the conference fee comes out of your own pocket (likely the case, for our readers here), it's a damn good investment. It's a great chance to get out of your silo, clear your head, and come home with dozens of actionable ideas. And, if you do come as a result of reading this post, hunt me down. I'll gladly buy you a beer (or suitable beverage of your choice).
See you there?
Written Apr. 23, 2010 in Blogging with 0 Comments
I've written along these lines before, but Spring is a great time to break out of your comfort zone and stretch your mind a bit. I call these "off-topic" excursions "mental sorbets," and they always help break me out of ruts and mental blocks.
For me, Blogworld is one of those mental sorbets, and I'll certainly be back again later this year. Next weekend, I'm headed to SOBCon in Chicago, to improve my blogging and communication skills. I do about four of these mental sorbets a year on my own nickel, and there's no better way to sharpen the saw and help bring clarity to how you think about your station, property or business when you get back.
So, as we near the first of May, how are you breaking out of your comfort zone?
Written Sep. 8, 2009 in Blogging with 0 Comments
We get 2-3 comments each day on this blog that are listener song requests. We get them because the stations we write about don't have blogs.
Written Aug. 26, 2009 in Blogging + Content + Marketing with 0 Comments
For many content-heavy web sites, the home page is not necessarily the main landing page--the page a visitor first sees when they get to your site. As an example, for our web properties our landing pages are more likely to be a page of content from a research study, or a blog post we've written, than our actual "home page." This is because people are vastly more likely to get to our web site by clicking through from a search engine or from a link on someone else's site than they are to get to us by typing edisonresearch.com into their browser. When you reconceive your web site in this fashion--that the home page may not be the first page a visitor comes to--you can open yourself up to loads of possibilities and also free yourself of limiting beliefs regarding what has to be on your home page.
I've spoken before at numerous conferences about flipping the funnel--how a well-constructed radio station web site should have hundreds, if not thousands of pages of content all focused on single content topics, each one serving as a line in the water--more lines, more chances to catch a fish. If you don't think you have the resources to do that, you're right--you can't do it tomorrow. But over time you will get there--our web properties have over 7,000 individual pages of content, and it's not like we have an "Interactive Division!" Having lots of single-topic, content-rich pages helps in two ways. First, it's the key to search engine optimization: Google needs to know what a page is about, and if it seems to be about many things at once, a search engine correctly parses the page as "not very useful" to people searching for a given key word or phrase. Secondly, it helps you--the radio station--know a little bit about the visitor. After all, if a listener comes to your home page, you know nothing about them--and normal web users are unlikely to volunteer much beyond an email (if that) to a radio station. But if a vistor comes to your web site as a result of typing in a specific search query ("great places to see live music in Austin") and they come to a page on your site that is about live music in Austin, you know a fair amount about them--you know they like live music, they are looking to go out, and they either live in or are coming to Austin. This kind of listener/user information is gold, and is the key to really unlocking the value of your web site.
Currently, most radio station web traffic is driven by on-air mentions--"visit our home page and..." But what exactly do you want them to do when they get there? Do you want them to sign up for your VIP club? Click on a promotion? Click on an advertiser's ad? Most the time, the answer is "all of the above," which generally leads to the user not taking any action, and not exploring the site. Because most stations don't know exactly why the visitor has come to their site, most stations try to throw everything at once at the page, hoping something sticks. Hope is not a strategy, however. So many radio station home pages are gunked up with myriad offers, ads and promotions that it's almost like they are trying to "score" on the first date. But online relationships are like offline relationships. You gotta take me out to dinner first!
Better to think of your home page as a welcome page, not as the transactional hub. Actions that you want listeners to take are better off on discrete pages devoted to that specific action. If your home page is relieved of the burden of having to be all things to all people (i.e., a broadcast solution) it is free to be re-imagined and repurposed as an invitation--an entry point to explore further. I generally focus on positive examples, not negative ones, but in this particular instance a comparison is helpful, so I'll leave you with this, a tale of two landing pages.
Page 1 -- What does this page want you to do? When you do it, what does the station know about you?Chances are, you either wanted to listen to the station (easy enough) or explore the artist currently playing (can't miss that!) Either way, you are a click away from getting what you want, and that click tells me a bit more about you.
Page 2 -- What does this page want you to do?
Less clear, and it gets worse as you scroll down (if you ever would).
To my mind, there is only one website in the world that can truly get away with being all things to all people on the home page, and that's my old friend Crazy Arngren (make sure you click the image to bask in its true, epic scope.) Hovercraft, anyone?
Written Aug. 7, 2009 in Blogging + Content with 2 Comments
Okay, after six years of taking a "First Listen" to new radio stations, this was inevitable.
It's from "All The Excess," the often very funny parody of trade journalism sites from veteran programmer Blake Lawrence, most recently of WRXP/WQCD New York. Also check out the "Thrifty Radio Station Spots of the Week" feature.
And while Lawrence's parody of "First Listen" is affectionate, he can be a little more pointed sometimes.
Written Mar. 18, 2009 in Advertising + Blogging with 4 Comments
Most radio station websites sell the Home Page as prime real estate. However, unlike shore property, apparently when you run out of radio station home page real estate you can simply make more. Most station sites that I have seen continue to grow south at an alarming rate, becoming vertical monstrosities of old content and banner ad-after-banner ad. Now, I am not a scroll-bar fascist--there are lots of great sites that I will gladly scroll down several screens for, but not to see more banner ads!
The value of sites like Facebook and MySpace are not in the 'home page,' but in the vast depth of these sites--millions of pages, each of which may only be seen by a few people, but in aggregate is an inventory machine. I haven't even been to Facebook's home page in over a month (though I update Facebook regularly) and Facebook knows that, of course!
The more radio stations continue to pile 'broadcast' ads on an interactive medium, the more they devalue that medium. Both search engines AND contextual advertising depend on lots of single-topic, focused pages--depth, not 'length.' Radio stations have a tremendous opportunity to build that depth using both the talents of everyone under their roof and the skills of their listeners.
Written Oct. 4, 2007 in Blogging with 0 Comments
Steve Rubel posted some handy rules for corporate blogging recently at Wired's How To Wiki that are worth expanding on here for your purposes. I'd love to see more radio stations blogging--and not just the morning show, either. Opening the curtain a bit more into your music meetings, for example, would be a great way for the programming team to build trust and invite listeners into what is, to their perspective, a black box process. In the world of blogging, your readers don't trust your voice unless they see it as truly authentic, and not marketing speak. So when you don't add that record that you struggled with despite the phones lighting up, you might as well join the conversation in a transparent, human manner--because the conversation is happening anyway, with or without you. Playing off of Rubel's helpful advice, here are my five tips for a music department blog:
1. Be Passionate. We talk a lot at conventions about "product." Never let that word within 100 yards of your music blog! When you hear a great record and start playing the crap out of it, let your listeners know that you think it is a F(#*&king great record! Passion=Respect--for the music, and for your listeners.
2. Stay Focused. One of the reasons why some blogs fail (and fail to attract an audience) is that they roam all over the place, and can't be counted on to illuminate any specific topic. If your station is the home for Today's Best Music, make Today's Best Music the LASER focus of your blog.
3. Build your blog with a solid blogging platform, integrating something like Movable Type (as we do) or Wordpress into your site. I see too many radio station blogs that are just one long scrolling page, without separate pages for each entry and easily searchable archives. Listeners don't like scrolling, but even worse, search engines don't like pages that are about 1,000 different things, like some of the vertically-infinite "blogs" I have seen some morning shows keep. Even if you have a page that aggregates a bunch of recent topics on one landing page, have a separate page for each post, with proper semantic markup, a great headline and clean code. The platforms I mentioned do this automatically.
4. Blog Internally First. Either use a password-protected hosted account at TypePad or have your IT staff install something behind your firewall. Get in the habit first to be sure that your team can be committed and not commit the unpardonable sin of "blogfading."
5. Moderate comments, but accept criticism. Do take comments, and do post everything short of abusive language or ad hominem attacks on staffers or other readers. Again, transparency is key--explain your positions, invite (and learn from) criticism, and be out in front--your blog will be a magnet to both active and passive participants alike.
Got any great radio blogs to tell me about? Post them in the comments here!
Written Sep. 28, 2007 in Blogging with 0 Comments
The other night I got back from the NAB sessions and caught a few minutes of the NBC premiere for "Life." The protagonist is a former cop who was wrongly convicted of murder, sent away for 12 years, only to finally be exonerated and (oddly) returned to the force as a detective. My favorite scene was a brief interlude of the main character being shown Google for the first time, and, on a lark, Googling his name. To his horror, the whole first page consisted of links about his murder trial, mug shots and even photos of the murder victim. He was, as you would be, horrified.
Googled your station's name lately? You may have mug shots of your own. We heard a lot at the NAB about two of the three primary media platforms: audio and video. Nothing at all, however, about the platform that really makes the web work: text. If you are not actively telling your story every day on the web, posting fresh, new content that really contributes to your listeners' lives, then others may be telling your story for you--and you may not like the stories they tell. Google remembers all.
Written Sep. 28, 2006 in Blogging + Content with 0 Comments
This post, from Sheri Lynch of the syndicated Bob & Sheri show, represents everything that is good and powerful about blogging for radio stations. After reading this, you forget entirely that the show is syndicated, or that it doesn't come from your city--or even your state. Instead, you feel connected to the person behind the mike, and you come away richer for the experience.
Sheri's post also reminds us that it is hard to 'put on a show' everyday for four hours, especially if you are coming to radio from TV (where you get multiple takes to be funny for 22 minutes) or from being the former lead singer of Van Halen, where you get a year to make 50 good minutes of music. Sometimes it's good, and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes, it's magic. The only way to find out is to hire creative and expressive people, and let them express themselves--on the air, and on the pages of your website.
Written Sep. 15, 2006 in Blogging with 0 Comments
Many of the initiatives mentioned in this article are large, industry-wide initiatives like HD--efforts that have far-reaching implications for you and your local station. Unfortunately, some of these initiatives are going to take a few years--and, in the meantime, there isn't much you can do at your local station level to accelerate the process.
That's why blogging is such an exciting topic for local radio stations--it's something you can do now that could have a powerful impact on your brand and on your revenues. So, while you are waiting for HD to percolate, why not take some local steps now to regain some of the mindshare with your listeners that iPods and YouTube have taken away? Your first step, of course, is simply to show up--to Harnessing the Power of Blogging, Thursday at the NAB Radio Show. Again, this isn't a panel for webmasters--it's a panel for anyone who is responsible for ratings, revenue and strategy for your station. I hope you'll join the conversation.
Written Sep. 12, 2006 in Blogging + Internet Radio + Marketing with 5 Comments
In just 3 days, Internet-only alternative station WOXY is going dark. I can absolutely feel their pain, having been a partner in another Internet radio play back in 2001 that also ran into the crippling paradox of 'Net radio--the more listeners you have, the faster you go out of business. As it was with Puremix, so it is with WOXY--while Internet radio usage is significantly more widespread than Satellite radio or even the iPod, making money from a pure Internet radio play is still a tough nut to crack.
WOXY had a significant presence in the Alternative community, and its site was the home of one of the most active message boards in all of radio. My wife's graduate students all listened to WOXY nonstop in lab, and I also listened to it a fair amount. So who killed it? The short answer is--I did. So did my wife's graduate students. And, statistically speaking, pretty much anyone else reading this who ever listened to WOXY. Because chances are, you didn't pay to subscribe, and neither did we.
America has seen a lot of alternative rock stations go by the wayside over the past 18 months, and prevailing wisdom has it that the 18-34 year old male has pretty much checked out of the system--ditching land lines, not filling in diaries, etc.--making them essentially invisible as far as ratings (and, thus, advertisers) are concerned. Perhaps passive measurement will bring with it a resurgence in formats that cater to this demographic. We see this when we conduct surveys in markets with underperforming alternative rockers--we know more people are listening to them than the diaries show, but if they don't play the game, they don't count.
So I am sure that there are lots of voices out there who are quick to excoriate Arbitron for their apparent failure to accurately measure the 18-34 year old male. What WOXY teaches me, however, is that the 18-34 year old male has to take some responsibility for this, as well. After all, WOXY has one of the most active user communities of any station on the web--just troll through their message boards and see--and yet hardly any of them ponied up a few bucks a month to subscribe. So for those of us who left WOXY on all day while we worked (and in the case of my wife's graduate students, even left it on overnight after they had gone home for the day) without paying for it, all we did was kill it quicker.
So we can hope that the coming dawn of passive measurement restores some balance to the force. But the "free lunch" mentality of the Internet means that even passive measurement of Internet radio doesn't mean that Internet radio has sussed out a revenue model yet. WOXY had a tremendous, loyal and passionate community--but despite all that love on their message boards, WOXY couldn't convert love into gold.
So, how do you create, sustain and monetize a rabid community of fans on the web? I hope you'll join me at the NAB Radio Show next week, when one of my panelists will be WOXY's GM, Bryan Jay Miller. Ask the man himself--and learn from his valuable perspective.
Written Aug. 10, 2006 in Advertising + Blogging + Marketing + Technology with 0 Comments
It has been almost a year since I wrote about the importance of radio station blogging, and radio has still been extremely tentative about dipping its collective toe into this vital form of communication (and its complement,consumer generated media.) For many stations, their reticence to enter the blogosphere is not only understandable, it might even be prudent. Rest assured, however, that blogging is not going away, and it has profoundly changed the landscape of "customer service," public relations and even altered the very soul of some companies (Microsoft being the most obvious example).
So, here we are in 2006, and you are thinking about it, or would at least like to know more. Where should you look? Well, we put our heads together on that very issue, and have assembled a fantastic panel at this year's NAB Radio Show in Dallas. The panel is entitled "Opening The Kimono: Harnessing the Power of Blogging" and it will definitely be lively, informative--and just might provide the impetus for you to think about your station in an entirely new (and potentially profitable) way.
The title of the panel does not refer to a mid-panel wardrobe malfunction, or anything more suggestive than "social networking." Instead, "Opening the Kimono" is all about making the crucial, first decision about launching a blog: how transparent do you want to be? Blogging requires a willingness to let the listener peek behind Oz's curtain (to mix metaphors) in a way that you might not be comfortable with (yet). Salting your blog with canned marketing messages and press releases is a fast path to irrelevance--only a truly open and honest two-way discussion has any chance of building relationships (and creating traffic). Opening that kimono might be difficult, but we have assembled an excellent group of guides.
Leading off the panel is the Founder/CEO of Weblogs, Inc and current GM of AOL's Netscape site, Jason Calacanis. If you want insight on monetizing your blog, harnessing the power of consumer generated content and how AOL is tackling some of the same issues you are, Jason is the goto-guy. He will also be speaking at the Jacobs Media Summit on "The Future of Media," so if you come away from that talk with questions on how to make some of his ideas tangible and concrete with your station's website, you will want to stick around for this panel.
Also speaking will be Anil Dash, who is a Vice President at Six Apart, the leading company in the business blogging space and developer of the software behind many of the blogs and websites you probably already visit everyday. Six Apart's hosted TypePad service is used by thousands of popular blogs, and their flagship software product, Movable Type, has powered this site and the main Edison Media Research site for two years. Anil has been an "A-List" blogger for many years, has some radio in his background, and is one of the most engaging speakers on technology and trends you are likely to hear at the NAB this year.
Bryan Jay Miller, the General Manager of Internet-only WOXY will also join us. WOXY is just beginning to dip their toe into blogging, but they already have an extremely active message board community that should be the envy of any broadcast radio station. Bryan has built an impressive brand on the Internet--without the benefit of broadcast airwaves--and has done it thanks in part to fearlessly engaging with their audience and valuing their online feedback. Bryan's insight into community-building online (and where to take it next) will prove invaluable to this discussion.
Finally, if there is one thing that I would like you to remember about this panel, it is that this will not be a panel to only send your "tech guy" to. This is a panel for everyone concerned about building a brand on the Internet and monetizing your content. The issues behind deciding when, how and if to blog are big issues--50,000 footers--and should involve PD's, GM's GSM's AND Webmasters. I hope to see you all. As always, we welcome your comments here, or just pop me a note if you have any questions.
Written Jul. 19, 2006 in Blogging + Content with 0 Comments
There are loads of blog posts (in all industries) out there from pundits that follow this simple formula:
1. "[link to non-industry company] is doing X, and X is smart."
2. "Are you doing X at your company?"
3. "Why not?"
It is refreshing to remind those of us in the radio industry, however, that sometimes, we do some things right--and that other industries are learning from radio. Here's one from a librarian! Read her four 'useful takeaways' to drive awareness, trial and usage for libraries that she gleaned from listening to local radio in Philadelphia and consider how Radio can continue to leverage these strengths in the future. The library is a venerable, local institution that has lost some of its "reach" and is being forced to change in order to remain relevant in a world where the Internet has become our primary source of information. Sound familiar?Also, I loved this tidbit:
Lately, actually, I've been homing in on two stations, desperately hoping to hear one of my favorite songs of Summer 2006: "Crazy", by Gnarls Barkley, "SexyBack", by Justin Timberlake, "Ain't No Other Man", by Christina Aguilera, and "Promiscuous", by Nelly Furtado (featuring Timbaland)....which prompted two thoughts:
- I remember finishing up a huge music research project for the launch of WKTU ten years ago (!) and commenting on how many great testing songs we had. Then-PD Frankie Blue replied, "yeah, but we will win this summer by owning two or three of them." Even in this post-Jack world, the "summer song" remains a potent force.
- I want to visit her library!
Written Jul. 6, 2006 in Blogging with 1 Comment
In my previous post, I noted that everything on the web was permanent and findable--erroneous "facts" about your brand left unchallenged become a part of the web's "permanent record." Wikipedia is a great example of this--on the whole, it is pretty good and covers vastly more topics than a traditional encyclopedia might, but its collaborative, unreferreed nature means that while the whole is pretty good, any given individual entry could be way, way wrong. Caveat Emptor.
So, while we typically don't respond to bloggers who simply bash us for the sake of bashing us, we do respond when our data is mischaracterized or incorrectly quoted, because these errors can stay in "print" forever, and it isn't in our interest or the interests of the thousands of businesses who have used our data to have the wrong facts attributed to us.
Take, for example, this mischaracterization of our data on HD radio from Mark Ramsey:
3. When reciever [sic] prices drop, demand will explodeMark is correct in one thing here--that the $100 statistic is dead wrong, since it didn't come from our research. The writer of the original Boston Herald article got this one way wrong (the actual figure is 21%, not 'nearly half'), and unfortunately Mark has turned an inaccurate use of our data into an equally invalid attack on our work.
This is a tremendous myth. The article quotes:
'A recent Arbitron/Edison Media Research study found that more than one-third of Americans are interested in HD radio, but nearly half said they would only purchase an HD radio if it cost $100 or less.'
This survey is hopelessly vague and worded with "deniability" in mind. For example, what does "interested" mean - and when I have a dollar to spend which of the things I'm "interested" in will I spend it on? HD Radio exists in anything but a vacuum. Further, the statistic that "nearly half said they would purchase an HD Radio if it costs $100 or less" is absolutely, positively dead wrong. Of course, from a "deniability" standpoint, "would purchase" and "will purchase" are not the same.
Such is the level of "truthiness" in the world of HD radio.
Neither the article, nor any piece of research we have ever produced has stated or implied that demand for HD Radio would explode if the price dropped, so Ramsey has constructed a bit of a straw man argument here. As to how we word our questions (not reproduced in either article), Edison is an active member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the Advertising Research Foundation and the Marketing Research Association; I can assure you that our questions are not designed to improve "deniability" or "truthiness," but to solve the business problems of our clients with survey instruments that are methodologically sound, statistically valid, and that utilize all the techniques we have both learned from and contributed to the field of opinion research.
In the case of the Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Series, we are always looking to improve the questions we ask and incorporate what we learn from our clients, board of advisors and industry leaders. There are now 14 iterations of this study--the richest, most trackable mine of publicly available data on Internet and Multimedia consumption habits and their impact on traditional media in the industry--and we make them all available for free on our web site. Have suggestions? Please pass them on to me--we welcome the dialogue.
I look forward to reading Mark's blog, and hope he continues to publish his own research--like us, I know that he prides himself on using valid measures and representative samples, and it is certainly his prerogative to study our Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Survey questionnaires and construct different ways to approach these issues to add value for his clients. In our own quest for truth (and not "truthiness") all we ask is that our data is represented accurately and fairly, as we would do for anyone in our industry--to do otherwise devalues us all.
Written Jul. 6, 2006 in Blogging with 1 Comment
There are a number of ways that radio stations can engage with bloggers (and blog readers) that don't necessarily involve having a blog. There are, in fact, a number of possible levels of interaction, and one or more of them may or may not be appropriate for your situation--the question here is not "should we blog?"; rather, the question is "how transparent do you want to be, and what is your comfort level with that transparency?
Whether you choose to blog or not, however, you must have some kind of blog policy, because conversations are happening about your station right outside your little booth in cyberspace, and everything that is said there is permanent, and findable. There are four ways that your station can (and may already) interact with the blogosphere, in increasing order of commitment::
- 1. You can read other blogs, and monitor what your listeners (and competitors) are saying about you.
- 2. You can comment on other blogs in response to conversations about your station
- 3. Your employees can blog (with or without your sanction)
- 4. Your station can have its own blog