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 Jul. 13, 2010 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Courtesy of Podcasting News comes this announcement that Podcasting community/platform Blubrry has seen its advertising revenues jump by 31% this past quarter. Todd Cochrane, the CEO of Blubrry and its parent company RawVoice, has been plugging away at monetizing podcasting since 2005, and has managed to survive and thrive, even as most of the early podcasting plays have long since faded.
Cochrane notes on his blog that quality - and quantity - have been the keys to their success, with over 5,500 shows available at Blubrry alone (they operate a few additional, smaller networks) for advertising placements. While he also is quick to talk about their multi-platform distribution strategy, it's that big number - 5,500 - that I want to point out here. That's not only a lot of raw inventory, it's also essentially a portfolio strategy, for you armchair investors out there. With a number like that, the chances are high that no matter what advertiser they call on, or what agency they talk to, they have a number of suitable podcasts to offer them in a package. Quantity does matter.
The lesson for broadcasters is pretty clear. You may not approach RawVoice's millions of avails for your own podcasting efforts, but in your local community your goal should not be to just podcast your morning show, but to create a portfolio of downloadable content - something for everyone - which you can use either for a reach buy or something more targeted. You may not have the resources in house to produce all that content, but hey - neither does RawVoice. You just have to provide a platform for interested folks in your community to add their own voices, with your station providing the hosting and acting as sales reps for the whole shebang. Some of your portfolio might be your original content, some of it might be recordings of local town council meetings, and some of it might be shows about local high school sports, local restaurants and local music - all the stuff that you might not put on the air but still engages passionate pockets of your audience.
Any one of these is a hobby. Put them all together? You got a business.
And, for my friends in commercial radio, there is no reason why you can't fill the role here of a public broadcaster. On the web, you have every bit as much of a right to leave deeper local footprints as anyone else, and with the amount of syndicated content on local public radio stations, perhaps more of an opportunity to get there. And for our public radio readers, offering targeted vehicles for underwriting and sponsorships opens up not only some creative ways to serve the community, but some creative revenue opportunities as well. The key, for both entities, is to learn from the success of RawVoice and don't think about home runs. Think about singles. Lots of them.
Written Jun. 1, 2010 in Content + Podcasting + Technology + Terrestrial Radio with 1 Comment
Over the past few months I've seen many novel ventures by radio stations to grow their "non-traditional revenue" (or, as I like to call it, "revenue.") Most of these efforts have centered around the creation of local web portals for a variety of verticals (auto dealers, restaurants, lawyers, etc.) The fundamental premise behind these efforts is that the radio station will build/host some kind of web property either for a client or for their own vertical local advertising model, and use their airwaves to drive people to those web properties. This, apparently, is the future of radio, or so I'm told.
The thing is, all of the innovation behind these new revenue-generating models is centered around the web - banners, online video, online promotions, etc. That's all well and good, if we stipulate that radio's skills in these areas are at least on par with what various pure-play ventures are bringing to local markets (and for the purposes of this argument, let's say they are).
All of these efforts to build sites for car dealers and doctors and local restaurants are all predicated around the assumption that radio will use the "power of the tower" as a force multiplier to drive traffic to those web properties. No matter what grand designs your station may have upon local search and local advertising dollars, it's audio that forms the base of this model, and it's audio that will differentiate radio from a hundred other local web plays. Yes, that audio will increasingly be delivered via the web, but distribution alone cannot be the focus of our innovation. Distribution will be table stakes to the game (as Jennifer Lane recently put it, if a station’s listener wants to listen online, and that station is not offering its programming online, they will find another station online to listen to.)
As I've noted several times in this space, the value we assign to those towers is based upon scarcity. When ubiquitous distribution of audio content renders those towers valueless, it will be the audio content itself that elevates your radio station and maintains its local audience. With all of the innovation radio is pouring into videos for local businesses and websites for car dealers, we must never forget that radio's strongest competitors online have done none of these things. Some of them are built so that you never have to go to a website at all. The focus of their innovation was audio. Though the business model has changed, and listener expectations of "spotload" have calibrated our expectations of revenue, audio and advertising around audio still work just fine, as long as the audio content is compelling.
I'm truly excited about the future of audio on the web, and radio's potential ability to assume the role of local media powerhouse with an innovative blend of live programming, on-demand programming and podcasts. On-demand audio opens up enormous opportunities to serve multiple niche audiences by addressing local news, issues, tastes and even local music styles and bands in ways that didn't make sense with a singular tower. All of this, however, requires us to continue to innovate around radio's core strength - the creation of compelling audio entertainment.
Written Mar. 30, 2010 in Podcasting + Technology with 0 Comments
There's no better predictor of behavior than behavior. Yesterday's nugget from our upcoming Infinite Dial 2010 study reported that one in four Americans had ever hooked their iPod/MP3 player up to their car stereo. This number, to use the parlance of a statistician, is frickin' huge. It's huge because one in four cars are not equipped with simple iPod interfaces or docks. Instead, nearly 25% of Americans 12+ (or, more than half of Americans who own an MP3 player) have weathered considerable friction to listen to their devices in their cars. Tens of millions of us have used cassette adapters, crappy FM transmitters and other Rube Goldberg-ian contraptions to hear our own music on our car radios.
What this means, of course, is that far more than one in four of us want to listen to iPods in our cars, and when that process is frictionless and seamless for all of us, that number will explode.
Written Feb. 2, 2010 in Podcasting + Technology with 1 Comment
I know I spend a lot of time extolling the latest advancement in digital radio initiatives from the UK's Absolute Radio, but at the same time, they keep doing things that I haven't seen from anyone else.
Watch the video, and see how they have quickly responded to the opening up of the Kindle platform to make their podcasts available. The Kindle is a lot newer in the UK than in the US, and I'm not aware of an American station that has gone this way, even with the longer lead time.
Absolute is showing a commitment to being available to anyone on any platform. Of course the podcasts are sponsored - Absolute is not giving away their content; they are finding new ways to make money off of it.
If you are interested in learning how Absolute is putting their podcasts on the Kindle, or how it is going for them, shoot me an email.
Written Jan. 29, 2010 in Podcasting with 2 Comments
Yesterday, Edison released a study we conducted in partnership with the Association for Downloadable Media, NPR, Wizzard, RawVoice and Revision3 that looked at consumer attitudes about podcast advertising. One of the data points from that study was that 30% of the sample indicated that they regularly listened to commercial radio, by far the lowest self-reported usage of any media channel we tested. Now, we all like to recite the statistics about radio's 90% reach, so clearly this self-selected sample is not quite in the middle of the bell curve.
But, that's exactly the point. These active podcast consumers, whether they are understating their radio usage or not, are telling us that radio plays a very small role in their lives, and that channels which enable them to control their media experience, like podcasting, are vastly more important. We know from our Infinite Dial series with Arbitron that 1 in 4 Americans have ever listened to a podcast, and 1 in 10 are at least monthly consumers of podcasts, so while podcast consumption is not a mainstream activity, it is still enjoyed by tens of millions of Americans.
And, overlaying yesterday's study results with the Infinite Dial data, we see that those tens of millions are generally better educated, more affluent, and bigger spenders than the average American. So they are certainly a compelling advertising target. What a sample of the most active podcast listeners told us in our most recent research is that they HATE traditional mass media interrupt advertising. That hatred, however, does not extend to contextual, relevant advertising. Far from it--in fact, these "left of center" media consumers actually welcome advertising messages delivered in context, especially if they are delivered by the hosts of their favorite podcasts themselves (you already know how effective this is; radio has sold live reads at a premium for years.)
It is tempting to look at the results from our survey and dismiss these active podcast consumers as not representative of radio's audience (they aren't) and "unreachable." That, however, is a false choice. Podcasting never did become the "new radio" as many once speculated, but it is a viable plank in a cross media strategy. No, the folks who are active subscribers and downloaders of podcasts are not the same people as your average radio listener. So why give them the same content? Radio doesn't have to make this false choice--it can pursue the mainstream on-air, and the potentially lucrative niches of the podcast audience off-air, with different, portable and relevant content focused around a specific niche (and in conjunction with a specific advertiser that makes sense.) The big story from our Edison/ADM study for radio is this: your efforts in podcasting shouldn't be redundant, because the audience isn't redundant. But by no means are they "unreachable." They just want relevant content--whether that content is your content, or advertising content--and they will, in fact, take action upon hearing those messages. They've got the money!
The key is to adapt to them, and not to make them adapt to you. Time-shifted clips of the same old content is only a baby-step. Bite-sized snacks of unique content--passionately delivered, and laser focused--are they key to reaching the unreachable. Now, you can make this content, or you can ask your audience to help you make it, but the demand is there, and the prize is worth winning.
If you missed our latest podcast research presentation, or have an hour and want to relive the magic :), here it is:
Written Jan. 26, 2010 in Podcasting with 2 Comments
We’re thrilled to announce that, in conjunction with the Association for Downloadable Media, we will present the results of our recently concluded Podcast Consumer Attitudes study of nearly 5,000 regular consumers of audio and/or video podcasts in a webinar is scheduled for Thursday, January 28th at 3:00pm EST, 2:00pm CST, and Noon PST. The webinar is free, but registration is required at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/909488120
I'll be presenting the data, which should take about 30 minutes, and we'll have plenty of time at the end for you questions. The results of this groundbreaking look at the attitudes and behaviors of these active podcast consumers will include:
• A comparison of the effectiveness of advertising approaches across various new and traditional media channels.
• An examination of post-exposure purchase and trial behaviors for consumers exposed to podcast advertising.
• A quantification of the “halo” effect of podcast advertising for prospective brands and sponsors.
• A look at the rapid adoption of mobile audio and video consumption.
• The effectiveness of pre-recorded advertisements, sponsorships and host-read messaging in podcasts.
The online study was conducted in November of 2009 among listeners and viewers of podcasts from many of the largest aggregators of downloadable media. Please be sure to share this news and then join us on January 28th!
Written Dec. 1, 2009 in Podcasting with 1 Comment
John Wilkens recently wrote an article in the San Diego Tribune about a local public radio show ("A Way With Words") finding a second life as a podcast. I was honored to be asked to contribute to this piece, which explores how a show that the local public radio outlet axed has found a new, post-broadcast life as a self-syndicated podcast with over a quarter of a million listeners.
The money may not be there yet, but the audience is certainly heading in their direction. If you are a content producer, this story should give you a little extra encouragement, but if you are in the business of running broadcast properties, it should also give you pause. That shows like A Way With Words are making the transition to podcast is really the intersection of two broad trends--the fact that the major operators are cutting air talent faster than they can print IOU's, and the fact that it has never been easier to syndicate yourself online.
Building an audience online is difficult--but the potential is vast. Now A Way With Words can effectively syndicate itself well beyond the borders of San Diego without owning a tower, or even having a relationship with one. Howard Stern certainly has to be asking himself why he bothers with Sirius XM (save the wallet-busting contract he signed) when he can effectively be his own media channel, and probably charge a healthy subscription to boot--all without requiring his listeners to own anything more than an Internet connection.
The thought I wanted John to include in this article was this: If you are a broadcaster who makes his living airing content syndicated from other sources, this is a short term play at best. In effect, you are nothing more than a middleman between the content (A Way With Words, Stern, Limbaugh--whatever) and the audience. As travel agents and stockbrokers discovered nearly 10 years ago, the Internet is not kind to middlemen.
Yet breaking through with a new show is incredibly difficult, and content producers need radio's reach--as much as radio needs to develop better relationships with content providers. It's never been easier to plant your own flag into the ground, but having a head start sure helps. The broadcast paradigm restricts stations to airing a few shows--but the Internet allows for multiple streams, multiple experiences. What a great opportunity for the radio industry to also rethink "syndication" as stations begin to fix their web properties and start down the long (but ultimately correct) road of treating their websites as independent properties, and not merely repeaters of their broadcast programming. Maybe your station won't air "A Way With Words," but you could certainly syndicate it online with just a little shift in thinking, and develop a mutually profitable relationship with podcasters and "ex" broadcasters in your community and beyond.
With that, I offer a final thought to the large operators out there who are currently burning the furniture in an effort to service debt--if you are going to fire talent, skip the "outplacement counseling" (if you even do this) and instead offer up some studio time, web space and have a think about the vast wheel of karma that the Internet has put in motion. Imagine the bigger picture--ending the broadcast life of a show shouldn't have to mean putting an end to the show or the relationships it has built with its audience. A radio station's web properties might best be used to manage a portfolio of such shows, aggregating content and audience from potentially hundreds of programs that may not make sense in broadcast economics, but together offer a compelling way to monetize the "middle tail" that radio is increasingly abandoning. Air talent, too, should keep their minds open to such relationships and the possibilities they enable. Can you syndicate yourself? Of course. But having a radio station use its reach to drive podcast subscriptions sure couldn't hurt.
Life is too short for either side to burn the bridges between them.
Written Oct. 1, 2009 in Internet Radio + Podcasting + Terrestrial Radio with 10 Comments
Last week I attended the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia. Certainly, attendance was not what it used to be, but numbers alone don't tell the whole story. What was really missing, was you. You, the over-worked promotions director, sales manager, program director and/or air talent looking for an edge--a spark for an idea, a tip from a colleague, or even just a mental sorbet to help you reconnect and rediscover your passion for the medium.
You weren't there because you couldn't afford it, or your station wouldn't pay for you to go. You weren't there because you are spread across 5 stations, and couldn't leave the station in a crucial ratings month. You weren't there because there weren't enough sessions (or interesting enough sessions) for your particular discipline.
Next year, the NAB Radio Show is going to be in DC--an expensive city to visit. You probably won't be there, either, for various reasons, but maybe I'm wrong about that. You might be at The Conclave, or CRS--still fantastic events--but you won't be at R&R, or The Gavin or any of a number of "big events" that have faded out of existence.
Here's where you should be. Radio needs its own version of Podcamp. I've attended several Podcamp events (geared towards new media content producers) and they are refreshingly, fantastically user-oriented meetups with a low barrier to entry and a vibrant, democratic atmosphere. Though these events are regional, they are open to all (I've attended events like this across the country) and are entirely content-driven. Podcamps are "unconferences:" events without trade show booths, tchotchkes and T-Shirts, very low registration fees (sometimes free, in fact) and designed to have multiple local presences rather than one "national" event in order to encourage as much participation as possible.
The six "rules" of Podcamp (which govern whether or not you can use the term "Podcamp" in your own event) are integral to the spirit of these events, and a "RadioCamp" would do well to incorporate them:
1. All attendees must be treated equally. Everyone is a rockstar.
2. All content created must be released under a Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
3. All attendees must be allowed to participate. (subject to limitations of physical space, of course)
4. All sessions must obey the Law of 2 Feet - if you're not getting what you want out of the session, you can and should walk out and do something else. It's not like you have to get your money's worth!
5. The event must be new-media focused - blogging, podcasting, video on the net.
6. The financials of a PodCamp must be fully disclosed in an open ledger, except for any donor/sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous.
"RadioCamp" events could be held in multiple cities, encouraging radio employees of all stripes to come out and share what they have learned with their peers, and participate in the narrative of radio's future. Rule #1, above, is sacrosanct. Sessions are not comprised of windbags like me "presenting," or sales pitches, but rather sessions led by you, sharing what you have learned and asking questions of your fellow participants--sessions are co-created by leader and audience, and 45-minute PowerPoints are forbidden. ALL sessions are accepted, space permitting, and the law of two feet rules the day. Not getting what you hoped from a session? Get up and move to the next one without stigma.
Also take note of Rule 2, above--ALL content must be released under Creative Commons. Podcamps (and, hopefully, RadioCamps) are not walled gardens of information, restricted to attendees--they are the seed events for the dissemination of ideas. Flash photography is not only permitted, it's encouraged--along with videos, podcasts and blog coverage. Fred Jacobs detailed his mixed feelings about not allowing the content at the recent Jacobs Summit to be recorded, but if the cost barriers to such events can be all but eliminated, people will come even if all the content is later available. Besides, the value of RadioCamp wouldn't be in videos of presentations, it would be in participatory dialogue across all disciplines. What a great way to remove the ridiculous church-and-state barrier between programming and sales by providing both a low-cost, regional opportunity for both to share and connect!
What's more, a "RadioCamp" would be a great way for local new media content producers to meet and engage with their broadcast bretheren. Y'all have lots to teach each other, and since they aren't going to the NAB, this is a great way for you to trade experiences and network with other passionate creators of online audio and video.
RadioCamps all across the US would be organized by you (some advice can be found here), not the "suits," and would be designed to break even through a combination of discounted space (universities are good places to go), modest fees (think 25-50 bucks, or free if you can swing it) and sponsorships. You know who should sponsor these? Clear Channel, Cumulus, Citadel, CBS, et al. In light of the intense debates yet to come about localism, it would be a valiant gesture by these companies to support local radio efforts in an era when the vast percentage of "local" content comprises traffic and weather drops. Sponsoring a regional RadioCamp would cost a company--or a cluster--less than sending a few suits to a national conference, and could provide a collegial atmosphere for all employees to share, learn and reengage.
So, hopefully I've planted a seed. I love PodCamps, BarCamps and all of the many varieties of "unconference" I've been able to attend over the years, and would love to see that local, democratic spirit spread across the US for the benefit of the radio community. In fact, though I hope this article has planted a seed, I'll do more than that--I'll start locally myself. Who's up for a RadioCamp Raleigh/Atlanta?
Written Jul. 29, 2009 in Podcasting with 6 Comments
VoloMedia (formerly PodBridge) has been awarded a patent for podcasting. This patent basically covers any online delivery of episodic media (including, but not restricted to, RSS delivery) and, for the time being, gives VoloMedia an extremely valuable piece of IP to hang their hat on. My friend David Oxenford (author of the extremely valuable Broadcast Law Blog) reminds me that there was once a patent awarded covering all on-demand streaming technologies, and that this patent resulted in years of protracted, costly litigation. Of course, litigation in this case, as in any case, requires a plaintiff. But who?
VoloMedia's own press release notes that "there will come a day when all the content on Hulu is available as an episodic download," a clear hat-tip to their strategy and likely one of their first partners and/or challengers. Lots of folks on Twitter are buzzing about the legitimacy of this patent, given Dave Winer and Adam Curry's credible claim to prior art. Here's the thing with patents--unless prior art is painfully obvious, chances are good that the U.S. Patent Office will award a patent as long as no one else has patented whatever it is. The real test then comes AFTER the patent has been awarded--it either expires, or is successfully challenged in court. Either way, a lot of money is spent trying to capture the flag.
The question in this case is: who would spend that money? With the early VC luster gone from podcasting, and the traditional media companies who now create vast amounts of episodic media not necessarily spoiling for this fight, it isn't immediately obvious who, if anyone, will challenge this patent. From VoloMedia's perspective, the patent is a clear win--the value of the company just got a clear boost, which makes VCs happy, and from their perspective a little standardization of podcast/episodic media delivery is a good thing. I've certainly noted in the past that the consumer experience for finding, downloading and consuming podcasts leaves a lot to be desired, and it may be that VoloMedia will usher in a new era of "one-click" podcast consumption that is device and client-independent. After all, with so many podcasts being delivered via the iTunes music store, portable consumption of podcasts is locked in to Apple-branded iPod players (and the Palm Pre, at least on odd-numbered weeks) which can't be good for the consumer in the long run.
All of which brings us to the elephant in the room--Apple. With Apple controlling so much of the podcast aggregation and delivery on the iTMS (which remains a black box for most podcast content creators) one would think that they'd have a vested interest in the outcome of this particular case. However, the "one-click" example I mentioned earlier may also hold a clue to how Apple will in fact react to this news. In 2000, when Amazon was awarded a patent for it's one-click ordering process, Apple chose to join 'em, not fight 'em, and licensed the technology from Amazon. This hurt some feelings, and undoubtedly ruffled a few feathers--but you have to admit it made buying music on the iTMS a better experience for customers.
This means, of course, that those who might be harboring hope that Apple will wade into this issue should be careful what they wish for. If Apple chooses to license, rather than fight, then VoloMedia's patent becomes very powerful indeed. Not only that, but VoloMedia instantly becomes a more attractive target for Apple (or someone...) to buy outright, leading Apple to actually "control" the process to which they unwittingly lent their "pod" name.
So much in this situation depends on motive--will VoloMedia attempt to go after independent podcasters? Why would they? But what about quasi-rivals in the ad-insertion/delivery game like AndoMedia, RawVoice or Wizzard? Remains to be seen. In any case, VoloMedia has planted a flag that signals they are serious about episodic media and they have a strategy to monetize it--even if that strategy is based on IP royalties.
Written Jul. 7, 2009 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
With all of the recent kerfuffle surrounding Chris Anderson's new book Free, it's worth noting that one basic economics lesson continues to hold true: scarcity creates value. In fact, economics is essentially the study of scarcity, and when a good or service becomes common, it becomes devalued.
I was reminded of this crucial distinction when I perused the results of RAJAR's latest MIDAS research. RAJAR, the UK's radio measurement entity, publishes a semiannual look at British consumption of Internet-delivered audio that examines trends in digital radio, streaming and podcasting akin to our own Internet and Multimedia Research Series here in the States, and I am always interested to see how the behavior of UK digital consumers agrees and differs from our own here in the US.
I'll have more to say about the podcasting statistics in a later post (they show continued growth in uptake, from 7.2 million podcast consumers in October 2008 to 7.8 million today,) but for now I wanted to focus on this telling statistic: while 4.2 million say they listen to podcasts at least once a week, only 28% find time to listen to all the podcasts they download (the typical user reported subscribing to 5.2 podcasts per week.)
I freely admit that I rarely listen to everything in my queue, and often weeks will go by before I will listen to an episode. Some subscriptions I have never caught up with, and others remain weekly staples. The vast stew of unlistened-to podcast episodes in my iTunes folder is very reminiscent of my TiVo "Now Playing" page, which also contains dozens of shows (and one entire series) that I've never watched. I suspect, if you own a DVR, that you have had a similar experience.
It's easy to subscribe to episodic content--less so to find time to fit it all in. If you are a podcaster with a program centered on information or news content in a given niche, you know that listeners have multiple ways to get the content you offer (after all, you also got it somewhere.) What keeps listeners coming back, week after week, is you--character development, roles, trust, and your story. Even the most compelling podcasts, however, can pile up in someone's feed reader amidst the plethora of audio and video available on the Internet.
That's where scarcity can be your friend. If you are a terrestrial broadcaster thinking about podcasting your morning show, think hard about how often you want to seed content to your feed--sure, a quick, daily 2-minute joke or benchmark is an easy thing to snack on, but think long and hard before you attempt something long-form on a daily basis. More frequent podcasts may work if you are Dawn and Drew, because they aren't repurposing broadcast content. But the more unlistened-to or unwatched shows I have piled up for a given program, the more daunting it is to tackle them--and the more likely I am to just choose a nuclear option.
All of which brings me to online video maven Tim Street, and how he handles the production of his wildly popular French Maid TV series. Tim's very clever idea was to film a "how-to" series for men, with the subject of each video demonstrated by women dressed as French Maids. Some of the topics he has covered include how to change your oil, how to register a domain and (of course!) how to podcast. What makes Tim a very smart guy is that these topics are ripe for sponsorship--and he doesn't shoot an episode until a sponsor pays for it. This means that he is able to monetize his show--and design it around a sponsor--from day one, and it also has the beneficial side effect of making new episodes scarce--i.e., valuable. Viewers know that a new French Maid TV episode is an event, so they make the time to watch it. Sponsors know this as well, which means that they have a little control over when the campaign is viewed (I've discussed podcasting's problem with variable campaign length and asynchronous consumption before) and they also know that because Tim isn't littering YouTube with hundreds of French Maid TV episodes a year, that they are sponsoring an actual, special event.
Now, this isn't the prescription for everyone. But it may be that the best thing you could do with your podcast content is to make less of it, not more.
Written Jun. 30, 2009 in Podcasting + Technology with 2 Comments
There was a funny article in the BBC News Magazine this week about a 13-year old boy who swapped his iPod for an old-school Sony (cassette) Walkman for one week. Scott Campbell learned all about what we used to call "shuffle" (randomly pressing and releasing the FF button,) that cassettes actually had to be flipped over, and, of course, the difference between what Sony called "portable" then and what we expect today.
My favorite quote:
My friends couldn't imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked. In some classes in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised it and got nostalgic.
I had one of these exact models, and I fondly remember attaching it to my gym shorts (Jams!) while I mowed the lawn, and, much to the amusement of my neighbors, struggling to keep my shorts pulled up with a 5-lb weight clipped to the elastic. We look back on the Walkman as a chapter in history--clearly, now, it seems silly (as the 8-track did to me as a child). What interests me about technological change, though, is exactly when the tipping point on a particular technology actually happens, and what the signs are. When, exactly, did we realize carrying this brick around was absurd? For most, it was when something newer and smaller came out; for others, it was the change in format to CD. I still own and use three minidisc players for various reasons, so I can be as stubborn a Luddite as anyone. But there comes a point when it is obvious to all that a technology, format or device has passed its sell-by date. The key is being able to recognize the symptoms before this occurs, and shaping the change instead of being shaped by it.
All of which brings me to the wonderful, long list of comments to Larry's provocative post last week on phasing out AM and putting the best content on FM. It was certainly positive to see such a spirited defense of AM--a little passion in a time like this, to quote one of my favorite Raymond Carver stories, is a small, good thing. However, can you imagine a time when the scratchy, mono hiss of AM radio becomes a memory? To the engineers out there, AM is an essential technology for coverage, DX listening, etc., but IP is the new AM, and its coverage is limitless. When a brutal thunderstorm hits, a revolution happens in Iran, or a King of Pop dies, we are learning of these things from device-independent services like Twitter, which with its mobile phone accessibility already has a potential 85% reach.
If you think AM will be around forever, well--I respectfully disagree. But if you think it will one day join the telegraph, shortwave, Satellite Radio and HD as anachronisms, when do you think that will happen? And will you recognize the signs? How many of these signs are already around you?
Getting ahead of the change may take work, but the path is clear. Own as much of your content as you can, make that content great, and get that content on as many devices/services/formats as you can--let the listener choose how they want to consume your content. I've been a big believer and proponent of podcasting in this space for the past five years (here are a few articles to get you started) and am bullish on the creation of box-independent programming as the future of radio. Ownership of content is required to embrace downloadable and on-demand media, which means every station that simply turns their programming over to satellite, or a hard drive at corporate HQ, sells their future in this space to make this quarter's budget. This is already happening with once-exclusive properties like Major League Baseball, and other audio content isn't far behind.
One day, we'll see the next Scott Campbell holding up his father's clunky AM radio in this picture. Whether you see that day as the near future or a distant tomorrow says a lot about how ready you are to face that day.
Written Jun. 9, 2009 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
VoloMedia is reporting that they have developed a free plug-in for iTunes that enables the anonymous collection of podcast usage statistics via Google Analytics. If you are at all in the podcast/downloadable media space, you know two things: iTunes is the ten-ton gorilla of podcast aggregators, and iTunes doesn't share data. This makes it difficult to get an accurate read on podcast usage data when so much of that data is locked away in Cupertino. VoloMedia's plugin purports to change all that.
According to VoloMedia's Murgesh Navar, content producers need only make a slight modification to their RSS feed to fold aggregated play and download data into an existing Google Analytics account. The service requires no relationship whatsoever with VoloMedia--it is truly win-win for anyone in the downloadable media space. Kudos.
(Hat tip to the Association for Downloadable Media)
Written May. 29, 2009 in Podcasting + Social Networking with 1 Comment
At the very least, the Twitter top 99 chart now appearing on We Are Hunted is diverse. It's a chart where not only do Blink-182's "What's My Age Again" and Black Eyed Peas' "Hey Mama" show up, many years after their last airplay, but so do Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" and Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," despite never having really been radio records.
What else? Eminem's "We Made You" at No. 1; lots of teen pop (both Miley and Hannah, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift), some classic Alternative and a lot of Classic Rock.
We Are Hunted's Nick Crocker tells Read Write Web that the chart is calculated by "sampling Twitter throughout the day looking for tweets that indicate someone is listening to or playing music and analyzing these tweets in our semantic engine." RWW takes that to includes tweets of Blip.fm and Last.fm activity.
There are a few obvious limitations here. One is what people are going to announce they listen to in public. If I had to Tweet something from my iPod right now, it would be "Head On" by Jesus & Mary Chain, but it took six songs before I found one I was willing to admit to in a public place. You also have to wonder if "What's My Age Again" is a potential bringback for radio or merely a title that makes for funny Tweets. And how many mentions did it take to put Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecelia" on the chart at No. 83? That could shake your confidence in the data daily.
There is also no age (or other demo) data of course. So the only evidence, anecdotal, you have that this represents the younger audience that radio's research often excludes, is in the eclecticism that you often hear attributed to younger listeners. But it's fascinating to see "Stairway to Heaven" and "Poker Face" living on the same chart somewhere.
Written May. 15, 2009 in Podcasting with 3 Comments
Yesterday, eMarketer published some projections from ZenithOptimedia on the estimated ad spend for podcasting over the next three years (and, to give away the punchline, the article is entitled "Podcasting Not Too Profitable.") Towards the end of this article, the eminently sensible Paul Verna writes, "much like blogging, podcasting is proving to be profitable to those who have premium content, but less so to everyday citizens who use the medium to reach long-tail audiences."
ZenithOptimedia's figures project that podcasting will continue to remain a very tiny portion of the overall ad spend, despite very positive growth rates. Projections generally describe a possible future--perhaps even a probable future--but not the only future. The key is, what are podcasters going to do to change it? Or, to paraphrase the great philosopher Cameron (you know, the hot Terminator from the Sarah Connor Chronicles,) "Future You doesn't live here. You do." So, here are some things for Present You think about.
Podcasting today generally falls into two camps: independent, niche content designed to monetize the long tail, and mainstream content from mainstream producers. The former is very likely to follow the trail of blogging, just as Verna notes, and certainly some individual content producers will do very well for themselves, while others will struggle--depending on the quality of their content and their marketing prowess. What will change those future projections the most, however, will be the actions that mainstream content producers take to optimize and monetize their downloadable media strategies. If they can right the ship, the rising tide will lift all boats.
The problem with most mainstream podcast content is that it is essentially just repurposed broadcast content--nothing new, nothing more. There is a place for this in a downloadable media platform, sure--but if all you are doing is adding a few more soda machines for the same cans of soda, then you will drive marginal growth, but not the kind of hockey-stick growth that podcasting could potentially realize with a different strategy. In other words, if your podcasts are basically nothing more than a subset of your existing broadcast content, then you'll have to be content with a subset of your existing broadcast pie, when we ought to make the pie higher.
If podcasts are little more than a service of convenience, they are destined to be just value-adds for broadcast or internet ad sales. It's convenient for me to be able to download APM's "Marketplace" to fill in those times when I miss the broadcast, but if the podcast went away I wouldn't miss it--there are other ways to get the content. Downloadable media can be so much more, if the unique attributes of the medium are recognized and form the basis of a cogent, platform-specific strategy. I can sum up the planks for a compelling platform strategy for downloadable media with this easy mnemonic: PODCASTING:
- P: Portable. More than two-thirds of podcast consumers continue to report listening more to podcasts tethered to their computer (where they compete with everything) than they do on portable devices--where new listening opportunities for broadcast content abound. Location-specific, activity-specific and context-specific content opens up all kinds of creative programming and revenue opportunities.
- O: Original. Content that you can't get anywhere else, like the unaired "fourth hour" of your morning show, local music features, or local public affairs programming--basically, anything you can think of that won't fly as broadcast, mass-appeal content that nevertheless has a place with passionate sub-groups of your audience.
- D: Discrete. Think "Song," not necessarily "Show." Bite-sized, easily digestible content chunks allow the podcast listener/viewer to create their own 'playlist' of content. I rarely miss Jon Gordon's "Future Tense" or my friend Chris MacDonald's IndieFeed podcasts because they are both around five minutes long, and I can easily stick them in the same playlist for my morning run.
- C: Compelling. Goes without saying.
- ASTING: I got nothin'. OK, you really only need to tackle the first four.
Next Thursday at 1:00 PM (EDT), I'll be presenting a webinar entitled "The Podcast Consumer Revealed 2009." This is the fourth iteration of this study, which is based upon the Internet and Multimedia Research Series we produce every year with our partners at Arbitron, and we are pleased to present it in conjunction with the Association for Downloadable Media (ADM). The ADM was formed to help podcasters monetize their downloadable content--which is something that I suspect nearly everyone reading this has an interest in--so I would encourage broadcasters of all stripes to join the ADM and support its efforts to help build podcasting's potentially lucrative future. In any case, if you are in the business of creating downloadable media, I urge you to sign up for this free web presentation, which will feature new, unreleased Edison/Arbitron data on the podcast audience.
Written Jan. 30, 2009 in Internet Radio + Podcasting with 0 Comments
Some interesting comments this afternoon from "Sports Guy" Bill Simmons, the star of ESPN.com. In the course of a long pre-Super Bowl chat, Simmons is asked why he's been doing more podcasts and writing fewer columns in recent weeks. His response, in part:
"I love doing the podcasts and feel like I'm on the ground floor of a medium that is really starting to take off. It's like radio on demand and I think it's going to kill satellite radio in two years. I really do. It's also a huge threat to real radio in my opinion, especially when people can get Internet in their cars and can just cue podcasts up within three clicks.
"It's astonishing to me that nobody has written a long piece about podcasts yet. This is exactly the same as what happened with sportswriting in the late-'90s where nobody was taking the Internet seriously and suddenly within seven years there were a million sports blogs, mainstream sites were crushing newspapers and newspapers were hemorrhaging money. We are headed that way with podcasts.
"I just think radio is going to become much more niche-oriented over these next 10 years -- people don't see it yet. Christian Slater in 'Pump Up The Volume' is going to look like a genius."
Okay, that might not be what all those new ESPN Radio affiliates we've read so much about lately want to hear. Then again, if they were smart, those stations would be playing Simmons' podcast.
Written Sep. 10, 2008 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
With so many radio executives getting their heads around social networking and relationship building with listeners, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Blog Talk Radio, a content network that was built from the ground up with just that purpose in mind. Using Blog Talk Radio's tools, all a host needs is a telephone and a computer, and boom--they have a talk show. One of the great things about BTR's system is that all of the tools to build true communities of listeners are built in--being the 100th caller is so 1999, after all. Blog Talk Radio shows feature live chat, automatically-created podcasts and other community tools to create a true two-way dialogue between hosts and listeners.
I sat down with John Havens, the VP of Business Development for BTR, to find out more about what they are doing, and how they are making podcasting work for them. Besides being an executive at BTR, John is also a podcaster and host of his own show, New Media Havens, and is a sharp, affable and downright funny guy to boot. Here's what John had to tell me:
What's your elevator pitch?
BlogTalkRadio is a social broadcasting network that allows anyone to create live, call-in, radio style shows using just a phone. Shows are then quickly archived as mp3's and made available as an RSS/Podcast feed. Created in the summer of 2006 by CEO Alan Levy, BTR currently has over 4,600 active hosts who have interviewed guests like Dennis Miller, Brad Pitt, John McCain, David Mamet, Salman Rushdie, Shirley MacClaine and hundreds of New York Times bestselling authors. The network is getting an average of 3.4M listeners a month and also has a white label version of their technology for business currently being used by clients such as Sun Microsystems, Golf.com, Harper Collins, the Pentagon, and more.
Who listens to your programming? How would you describe your audience?
Our media kit is available here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/docs/BTRMediaKit.pdf. The last time we updated, women aged 35-54 are our largest demographic, but we've got a strong presence on MySpace and with a wide range of audiences.
What makes you special? What are some notable successes you have had?
Ease of use makes us pretty unique in the tech world since everyone has a phone (and you can hear live shows on your phone with us as well as use them to create content). We keep up with latest trends (we employ Twitter to announce shows, are building a mobile platform to listen to archived shows, etc.) but in terms of getting clients and folks to create content for us, easy adoption is key.
The caliber of our hosts and content on a repeated basis is what truly makes us stand out, however. I simply don't see other networks (audio and video) regularly feature the celebrities and thought leaders that we do on a regular basis. And we have a Features Editor and team working to cultivate the content on our network to demonstrate we are a media company as well as a technology that allows for democratic creation of media.
We've had a number of successes. One of our hosts/staff, Shaun Daily, led the efforts to bring "Jericho" back on the air to CBS by having executives from the show on his program and coming up with the idea to send nuts to the CBS lot as a sign of how crazy they were to remove the show. Having John McCain on the network three different times was quite notable, along with shows like our recent Big Brother cast call-in programs where we had 17-19,000 live listeners/callers. Client wise, we're honored that The Pentagon uses BTR to create a number of different shows like American Supports You that caters to military families. Sun Microsystems (another client) uses BTR to do innovative communications efforts like audio press releases and Harper Collins is interviewing folks like Paolo Coelho and Carol Alt.
What is the most important thing you have learned through the process of getting your businesses off the ground?
I have been with the company for about 14 months and cannot speak for Alan (our CEO and founder). But I can say what I've learned from him and heartily support in regards to our growth which is the notion that to build a business you always have to focus on ways to monetize your efforts versus just having the latest, coolest bell or whistle that will get the blogosphere buzzing for a few days. We created the Twittergram with Dave Weiner and got a lot of great blog press with our Cinch product and that's great; I don't mean to minimize the importance of positive Blogbuzz. But at the end of the day a viable business means you create demonstrable value that clients/people will pay for which we've done. We had a nice write up in BusinessWeek a few weeks ago ("BlogTalkRadio For Business") that talks about our Station model which has gotten great traction over the past few months. We're also monetizing by inserting ads into shows on our main network and have the collateral/reach that are getting advertisers to take notice and get involved with our network.
So in summation the lesson I've learned is to stay focused on the ways your business can make money in conjunction with/at the same time you're building value for your community. That's a synergy that will always lead to success.
What advice would you give the radio industry about downloadable media? And what can you learn from them?
More than advice I'd make an offer--let's work together! We have an amazing amount of content we can syndicate to radio stations while also syndicating terrestrial shows on our network. Any network, online or off, loves to have the content they've already created distributed to more markets via whatever medium is available. Especially when it means there is more money to be made when we tell our aggregate advertisers we've greatly increased their reach.
In terms of learning from them, I think "traditional" radio, like other mass media, understands the value of quality programming and segmenting shows into easily understandable terms for listeners. So if I want "classic rock" I know how a station sounds within a few minutes of listening. Classical stations are often at the far left of the dial, etc. And when you find stations that eschew play lists in lieu of creating shows and a sound that's unique, all the better. But when there are people working to cultivate talent and orchestrate quality shows around a theme/genre, it means as a listener I understand and appreciate that you've worked to provide me quality entertainment and feature it, which is what we do at BTR as well.
Want to know more about making podcasting work for you? Make sure you attend our panel on Thursday at the NAB and bring your questions!
Written Sep. 5, 2008 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Is Podcasting "niche" content? If niche is defined as "N" number of people who are genuinely passionate about a given subject area, and "N" is some number less than one million, then I suppose it is. Niches, however, can overlap and be aggregated--and niches are where audiences become engaged, and more receptive to messages, motivation and calls to action.
No one knows this better than Susan Bratton, who is both the Vice Chair of the Association for Downloadable Media and CEO of Personal Life Media, a podcasting startup that produces and hosts over two dozen weekly shows on topics relating to personal development. Though the shows are varied and each serve different niches, taken together they are, in essence, a network--all tied to Susan and Tim Bratton's vision of personal transformation and empowerment. This allows Personal Life Media to be very clear about both the nature and desires of its audience and the best fit for potential advertisers and sponsors--the keys to driving real revenues (and not remnant buys or "value adds")
Susan is also a podcaster herself, and hosts her own weekly show called Dishy Mix that features interviews with some of the best minds in marketing and technology, ranging from Rex Briggs to John Battelle. I literally do not leave home without the latest episode on my iPhone.I sat down with Susan to pick her brain about her company, her vision for podcasting, and what broadcasters can learn from her experience:
What's your elevator pitch?
That we are a network of 25 weekly shows focused on frank discussion and deep conversation about many aspects of self-empowerment from life-purpose to creativity to weight loss to relationships and intimacy to anti-aging and longevity to spirituality to sustainable living to meditation and the men's movement and women's empowerment.
We fit a niche that provides content much more detailed than mainstream media, and it's on demand and personal.
Who listens to your programming? How would you describe your audience?
My audience are cultural creatives, movers in the renaissance generation who purposefully seek out a depth of information that's targeted to grown ups - our listeners are high-income, highly educated, tech-savvy men and women typically between the ages of 35-55.
What makes you special? What are some notable successes you have had?
We've grown from zero to over 400,000 monthly listeners in a year. We have created a body of work of more than 1,000 episodes with over 500 interviews of the most important thought-leaders in the world of self-empowerment and spirituality. We have also created a technology platform to scale from 25 to 2,500 shows and have just launched a new podcast "widget" that lets our fans put our shows on their blogs, websites and social media points of presence to share our content with their friends.
What is the most important thing you have learned through the process of getting your businesses off the ground?
Podcasters do not come from the world of advertising and marketing and need a lot of education around the importance of ad standards and market research to support the monetization of their content. That clients are more ROI focused than they've ever been due to both the contraction in the economy and the effect of Google's impact on online advertising. That there's an amazing passion in the hearts of podcasters to be in service to their listeners and viewers that should be tapped to result in revenue for their effort. That I love working heart in hand with my husband to bring this amazing content to the universe.
What advice would you give the radio industry about downloadable media? And what can you learn from them?
Using terrestrial radio to draw your audiences online is an amazing advantage. I started with Zero Brand, Zero Audience. Radio industry execs can take their content and deliver it into a new distribution channel to expand the opportunity for revenue generation in partnership with their existing advertisers. They have so much to leverage!
Want to know more about making podcasting work for you? Make sure you attend our panel on Thursday at the NAB and bring your questions!
Written Sep. 3, 2008 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
The Pew Internet and American Life Project just released some new data on podcast consumption, estimating that roughly one in five Americans have ever downloaded a podcast:
These numbers are extremely close to the Edison numbers on podcasting and certainly validate that study’s conclusion that podcast consumption continues to grow. This is a good study, and a worthy addition to the growing body of credible research out there on the consumption of downloadable media.
The Pew report does draw one conclusion that is likely to draw comments from a number of podcasters, if not outright controversy. With 3% of Americans indicating that they download podcasts “on a typical day” (and 17% of actual podcast consumers claiming the same), the data suggests, as Mary Madden indicates, that “podcasting has yet to become a fixture in the everyday lives of internet users.” One could point to the “300% increase in the daily podcast audience” here, as the headline reads in today’s Podcasting News, and see the glass half full, or one could focus on the number “3″ and be fairly dismissive of podcasting.
The truth, as it generally is, lies in between, and is best summarized just exactly as Madden has written–podcasting has proliferated, but has yet to become a fixture in daily life. The overall consumption numbers from both the Pew and Edison studies (one in five Americans) show that podcasting is becoming important on a national scale–but it isn’t yet a “daily habit.” I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that podcasters don’t really “ask for the order,” a phenomenon I wrote about at length in an article entitled “Podcasting: The Curse of Convenience.” Because you can listen to a podcast any old time, there is not necessarily a daily urgency to do so. There aren’t many daily shows, for one thing–and I often wait until the end of the week to even sync my portable MP3 player. “Daily” may not even be a reasonable standard–radio is measured on weekly reach (Edison’s data puts podcasting’s weekly reach between 8 and 9 percent) and television is measured on the “show,” both of which are more reasonable standards for podcasting.
Still, the essential conclusion here is correct–podcasting continues to proliferate, but is not yet a daily habit, even for most podcast consumers. The key to reinforcing daily podcast consumption is to reinforce its relevance to the lifestyle and context of the listener–keep teaching your listeners how, when and where to listen to or watch your content.
Written Aug. 28, 2008 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Next month I will be speaking on a panel on podcasting at the NAB Radio Show. I've done a lot of these sorts of panels over the years, and have mainly been attended either by technical folks--engineers, webmasters--or forward-thinking programmers who understand the direction that radio has to move in order to stay relevant. This year, I believe, will be different. There is a sea change happening in the radio industry right now with podcasting and downloadable media, and I predict this year we will see more GM's, market managers and group heads in the audience. Not only is the material highly relevant, but we also have a tremendous panel, anchored by NPR's Bryan Moffet and the chair of the Association for Downloadable Media, Chris MacDonald.
Of course, the question that is on a lot of people's minds in the radio industry is: how do I monetize podcasting? Given that it doesn't contribute to my ratings, how do I make this worthwhile for my station? One of the messages this panel will deliver is that there are folks making money right now and achieving great success with podcasting--so why not your station? In that spirit, over the next few weeks leading up to the NAB I'm going to spotlight some of podcasting's true success stories--the independent mavericks who are making it work, every day.
To kick things off, here is one of podcasting's real visionaries, Chris MacDonald. Not only does he chair the ADM, he is also an executive with Libsyn (who host a lot of podcasts for traditional radio) and a very successful podcaster in his own right with his music-based podcast, IndieFeed. There are a lot of broadcasters who think that you can't podcast music because of all the rights issues; yet Chris manages to podcast new music each and every week over an assortment of genre-based channels for IndieFeed and has millions (yes, millions) of downloads every month to show for it. I sat down with Chris to find out what makes IndieFeed tick:
What's your elevator pitch?
IndieFeed is a subscribed download music discovery services that delivers fresh, breaking new music in a short-form audio show. Available in a variety of popular music genres, IndieFeed presents one full song then describes interesting information about the artist, track and label, and where to learn more.
Who listens to your programming? How would you describe your audience?
A highly active and engaged youth- and male- skewed audience who come to our service to learn about, share and purchase new music:
- under 17 - 22.7%
- 18/24 - 35%
- 25-34 - 23.2%
- 35 - 44 - 12.9%
- 45 - 54 - 4.6%
- male 66.3%
- female 33.7%
- 64.3% purchase music based on IndieFeed's music introduction
- 85.4% go back to artist or label website as IndieFeed recommends
- 50-50 split desktop and mobile consumption
- wide range of household earning, above average education
- Other forms of broadasting consumed:
- 63.2% internet radio
- 49.4% broadcast radio
- 79.7% mp3 player
- 15.5% satellite radio
- 23.2% cable digital radio
Average 2.5 million unique Neilsen Verified downloads per month
What makes you special? What are some notable successes you have had?
IndieFeed dominates the music podcasting space and is consistently amongst the highest featured and top 20 podcasts on a variety of charts. IndieFeed has the highest volume and comment rankings of all 170,000 podcasts offered in iTunes, as well as over 1000 5 star rankings on its Alternative Modern Rock channel. Some of our other successes include:
- Guitar Center licensed IndieFeed content to play in over 200 of its in-store retail locations in the US.
- IndieFeed shows have routinely entered the overall top 100 iTunes list.
- Advertisers on IndieFeed include: Honda, Buena Vista Entertainment, Showtime, Castrol, USA Networks, Toyota, SpikeTV, Jabra, TD Bank and several national PSAs
What is the most important thing you have learned through the process of getting your businesses off the ground?
Really (really!!) understand what your audience wants from you, constantly deliver that, and they will pay you back with their attention and belief in your business.
What advice would you give the radio industry about downloadable media? And what can you learn from them?
Youth culture (and increasingly mass culture) rely more and more on downloadable media as an incredibly important consumption option. That trend shows little indication of decreasing. Downloadable media affords new audio consumption habits that are more personal and intimate, and therefore create very compelling brand and monetization opportunities.
Consumers who self-select downloadable media are willing to accept different types of marketing messages. You don't need to "yell" at them so they don't touch the dial, more subtle and effective messaging works in a captive engagement setting like downloaded audio. In this sense many ad units used in terrestrial radio may need to be reworked, but with the upside of better yields.
We could learn a tremendous amount from experience with mechanics of monetization in terrestrial radio, from advertising marketplaces to local ad sales, to the scaling cross marketplace buys.
Want a chance to pick Chris's brain? Make sure you attend our panel on Thursday at the NAB and bring your questions!
Written Aug. 5, 2008 in Podcasting + Social Networking + Technology with 0 Comments
If you are in the business of New Media, you really should be at the New Media Expo next week in Las Vegas. This event has really grown into a fantastic conference (this is its first year in Vegas) and I will be speaking on the topic of the efficacy of podcast advertising--who is listening, who is buying, and what podcast content creators can do to get more of both. My talk is at the end of the day on Friday, of course, so once again my big bucket o' data will be the last barrier to cocktail progress for most of the attendees. With that in mind, I'll be concise!
Look me up there, or pop me a note on Twitter if you'd like to meet. With speakers ranging from Gary Vaynerchuk of the enormously popular Wine Library TV to the marketing VP behind Blendtec's "Will It Blend" (which prompted me to buy one!) it will be a fantastic conference with loads of ideas, networking and maybe a little of that Edison statistical magic at the craps table.
I'll also be speaking in September on the topic of podcasting at the NAB Radio show. I get lots of questions from broadcasters about podcasting, specifically who is making it work and how they are getting paid. Between now and then I'll be interviewing some of the industry leaders here in this space so you can read and see for yourself the power of downloadable media and how you can make it work for your station. More soon!
Written May. 2, 2008 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
In our most recent research on podcasting, our data showed a significant rise in audio podcast consumption, from 13% of Americans 12+ last year to 18% this year. The rise in video podcast consumption was even more dramatic, rising from 11% to 16%. Finally, if one examines podcast consumption only within the past month, video nearly catches audio, trailing only by one percentage point (9% to 8%.)
Certainly, anything that even smells like video has shown hockey-stick growth on the Internet over the past 18 months. I was asked on an analyst call yesterday if I thought that video would eventually overtake audio in terms of downloadable media consumption. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't--but even if video surpasses audio I don't expect that gap to be large. Content producers may be in love with the power of video, but as podcasting and downloadable media continue to become more and more viable as advertising vehicles, a lot will depend on just who an advertiser is trying to reach.
For example, if Disney is trying to reach my family (me, wife, son, dog) to convince us that a Disney vacation would be just the ticket to escape from our oppressive jobs for a while, where and how might they reach us? If they want to dangle images of Mickey in front of Sam, poolside lounging for Miriam and, uh, "It's A Small World" for me, their best bet is to catch us when we are all together--after dinner, around (if not in front of) the TV. For that messaging, video makes a ton of sense. However, if an investment bank or software company wants to get to me through some kind of downloadable media, their best bet is to grab me alone in the early morning--in the car or at the gym--and that begs for audio.
One of the great opportunities for podcasts is to create "appointment media," just as broadcasters have been doing for years. The fact that podcasts can be consumed any old time can mean that they aren't consumed at all if they lack priority or relevance. Associating a podcast with an activity, for instance, trains listeners how and when to use the podcast. Maybe it isn't "9-2-5" like a broadcast radio promotion, but maybe it's listening to an investment show whenever you are on the treadmill, or a lawn care show whenever you are outside gardening. Audio has advantages in this over video as a true companion medium, and while audio podcasts may lack some of the shared experience of broadcast media, there is an intimacy, engagement and connection with podcasts that few media can top. As long as audio podcast producers can tap into that intimacy and also become more associated and relevant with various lifestyles and activities, there will always be room between the earbuds for audio podcasts.
Written Apr. 24, 2008 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Wednesday we released an offshoot of this year's Arbitron/Edison Media Research Internet and Multimedia study called "The Podcast Consumer Revealed 2008." We have produced three of these annual studies of podcast consumption to date, and this year's shows dramatic growth in both audio and video podcast usage over 2007 levels. I recently presented highlights of this data at ad:tech San Francisco as a part of the Association for Downloadable Media's "Get The Download" event, and the folks at the ADM were also kind enough to allow me to post some thoughts on this data over at their site.
With independent content networks like Wizzard Media securing deals, continued promotion of podcasting by major content producers like ESPN and NPR, and increased exposure of podcasts through the iTunes music store and Zune Marketplace, podcasts have become an increasingly effective way to reach attractive target groups that are becoming more and more elusive with an ever-increasing array of quality programming.
We now have the entire study available for download at edisonresearch.com, or if you like your data accompanied by folksy analogies and down-home wit you can come out to Podcamp NYC tomorrow (link below) where I will be presenting this data to what is now a sold-out (but free!) conference attended by some of the most active producers and consumers of downloadable media. Hope to catch you there!
Written Feb. 9, 2008 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Congrats to our friends at Wizzard Media for hitting two important milestones: passing one billion downloads, and moving from an OTC stock to being traded on the AMEX. We'll soon have some important new podcasting research to unveil about downloadable media and its relevance to advertisers, but one thing is clear--2008 is the year of engagement for media producers, and podcasts are an increasingly important piece to the consumer engagement puzzle. For more information, check out the growing body of content at the Association for Downloadable Media's website, and join up!
Written Sep. 12, 2007 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
I've been meaning to put this up for a while, but here is a great term for those of you who think "podcasting" is still too cute for the room. Nik Goodman reviewed the UK's Radio Festival a while back and noted the use of the term "Non-Linear Radio," which may not catch on with the digerati, but is a pretty accurate turn of phrase, nonetheless. As I noted in an interview with TechNewsWorld last week, non-linear consumption of audio content requires a level of engagement that goes beyond "passive listening" and requires the listeners to experience a little friction (less each day) to find and subscribe to the content they are most interested in.
That's why podcasts are such a great revenue opportunity--you have a much better chance of moving the needle in terms of advertising effectiveness if your listener makes a point of downloading your content and listening to it later at the gym, or even in the car. That's why radio must resist the urge to make podcast sponsorships "value adds" to a spot buy, and instead focus on finding sponsors that make sense and making smart partnerships. If your morning show can do a "What's Going on in [insert your town here] this weekend" podcast that gives busy folks like me 5 things to do this weekend, that is a real service. Pair that up with a sponsorship from a local restaurant, or (PLEASE) a good babysitter, and you've struck gold.
So while I'm busy running around trying to get Sammy off to daycare, and responding to Larry's withering torrent of early morning EMails and instant messages, providing "non-linear radio" is a fantastic way to engage me during my "non-linear" day. Consider that a potential audience for such programming is likely to be busy, stressed out folks with too many soccer games and meetings, and the marketing and sponsorship possibilities should start leaping out at you. Podcasting isn't about "features," RSS or even iPods--it's about being there, when and where I need you.
Written Apr. 18, 2007 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Since his arrival at WSM-AM Nashville last year, new PD Sam Easly has gone to great lengths to modernize the gold-based traditional Country outlet and Grand Ole Opry flagship. So it's not surprising, but still amusing to get an e-mail listener newsletter for the station with three items: the station's iTunes podcast and listener archives, the station's MySpace page, and the slightly less high-tech CMT Dukesfest, celebrating everything Dukes Of Hazard-related.
Written Apr. 11, 2007 in Advertising + Marketing + Podcasting with 0 Comments
Our recent study on Podcast listeners continues to generate lots of great feedback around the Interwebs. BusinessWeek focused on the "modest" revenues for podcasting at the moment, while Pronet Advertising (a great resource for online marketing, by the way) pointed out the highly desirable demographic being reached by podcasts. Some have challenged the "low" numbers for video podcast consumption by pointing out stats like comScore's recent report on US Video Streaming, which is a fine report--but is apples to oranges as far as our data is concerned.
Let's consider audio podcasts for a moment. It is true that audio podcasts are a form of online audio--but not all online audio can be correctly thought of as a "podcast." The rising tide of online audio does indeed lift all ships, but the actual behavior of downloading an audio podcast and saving it to listen to later is markedly different than leaving Pandora on in the background to stream your favorite music while you work.
The problem is one of metrics. Podcasters have little recourse but to use the same types of "reach and frequency" metrics that mass media providers have relied upon for years. This results in a currency of "downloads" that does podcasters a tremendous disservice, in my humble opinion. Clear Channel Online can measure and credibly claim almost 1 million unduplicated listeners per week to their online streams. There are two issues with similar measurements of podcasts. One is that there is no agreed upon metric--read this post from Adam Curry and the subsequent comments and decide for yourself if Podshow generated 12,000 or 52 million "download requests," whatever they are. The second problem with measuring downloads or "download requests" is that this metric is woefully inadequate in terms of capturing the level of engagement that a podcast listener has with the content. If I have a classical station on in the background for 6 hours, does it equate to my downloading and listening to Podchestra? Common sense says "no." In fact, advertisers and marketers are increasingly more sophisticated about the measurement of engagement.
Next week, the Advertising Research Foundation will be hosting its big annual convention, Re:think 2007, and we'll be there as well, giving a talk on the measurement of experiential marketing. Engagement is more than just a buzzword--there is a serious effort on the part of Edison and all of the other members of the ARF to craft a metric and methodology to place engagement where it belongs in measuring brand impact. If I download and listen to Leo Laporte's "this WEEK in TECH" podcast and listen to it in its entirety while driving to pick up Sam at daycare, I have done more than 'download,' I have engaged with the brand, with Leo as a credible host, and even with the sponsors of the show, who are generally more relevant to me (in that context) than anything I might hear on mass media. That's worth more than a "download."
Podcasting is not a replacement for other forms of reaching audience--it is a valuable tool in the context of a complete media mix. The continuing evolution of the engagement metric will provide a more equitable way to equate lower traffic, but higher involvement media such as a podcast alongside higher traffic channels such as broadcast radio and TV. In the end, I agree with noted podcaster Michael Geoghegan that the success of the medium should not be pinned on the success of the term podcasting. Nor should it be pinned on the number of downloads a show does or does not spark. What matters for marketers is the level of engagement, consumer trust and brand involvement a consumer has with a podcast. The combined market of audio and video podcast consumers now stands at 16% of the country, and it is a valuable, marketable and highly lucrative demographic. There's a real market there--but podcasters have to be a little smarter, work a little harder and exploit the unique advantages and benefits of podcasting to get there.
Watch this space for more on engagement in the weeks ahead.
Written Mar. 22, 2007 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
If you haven't been reading Mark Glaser's excellent MediaShift blog on PBS.org, now is a great time to start. Mark's newest piece on the rise of video podcasting and online video, and its ramifications on the audio side is a great "survey course" on both the power of video and the versatility of audio. The article also goes on to give some useful stats from the Pew Internet and American Life project that correlate well with our own recently released stats on podcast listening. From radio's perspective, audio vs. video is a false choice, of course. Compelling video is a powerful way to promote compelling audio.
Written Mar. 12, 2007 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Monday, March 19th, we'll be at the Corporate Podcast Summit in London, giving the opening address on the current state of podcast consumption. This will be the first release of data from our upcoming Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia study, and will feature new data on podcasting awareness, engagement and preferred content. We'll have some intriguing updates to last year's data and new questions galore. If you can't make it to London, we'll have the data up here next week, so be sure to check back!
Written Mar. 12, 2007 in Content + Marketing + Podcasting with 0 Comments
NBC recently announced that they were engaging in a bold little experiment with The Office. Basically, to try and juice up viewership for reruns, they are borrowing a little "Web 2.0" and doing a mashup of existing content by marrying two previously seen episodes plus previously unseen deleted scenes into what they are calling "newpeats." In an era where those of us with DVR's rarely miss shows we care about, it is easy to see why re-runs have lost a bit of their charm. After all, I never miss Battlestar Galactica--but I have never watched it on its new home on Sunday Nights, either.
Whether or not this works for NBC, this is a great idea for your morning shows to drive increased web traffic and also provide content for podcasts that are sponsorship-worthy. Putting yesterday's show, or even highlights from the show, up on your website is just the first step. To drive real traffic, you gotta do some work. Here are three quick ideas for "Newpeats" of your morning show:
- Package up several weeks worth of a popular benchmark (prank calls, for instance, or the "Five O'Clock Funnies") into a monthly "Best Of" podcast ("sponsored by Cingular Wireless, Now Part of the New AT&T," of course!) Lots of listeners tune in to certain shows only to hear certain benchmarks--providing an archive of just that content, packaged up for more convenient listening, is a no-brainer way to extend your brand, increase mindshare and monetize podcasting.
- Try "Re-Contesting" - if your morning show features a popular trivia show (e.g., "Battle of the Sexes") splice 4 of them together with sponsorship drops after each, then put a new stealth contest at the end of the content requiring listeners to list things named earlier in the podcast to win a new, podcast-only contest. Sell the whole thing to whoever sponsors your current contest feature to mine a little extra revenue, and provide some off-air lovin' to your "contest aficionados."
- Tell a local story. Every show has its time to "leave deeper footprints" with a given local issue or important news story--why not take just the best, most relevant segments to that story and edit them together into a new piece? If your station spearheaded an effort, for example, to provide support for families of soldiers currently serving in Iraq, you might capture all the best moments of your efforts--the great interviews, the memorable phoners, etc--and memorialize them in one podcast. You could provide a donation link right next to it on your website and talk it up on the air.
Those are three I thought of in the shower--there are loads of variations on this theme. The real take-away is that you have lots of great content that no one ever gets to hear, even with recycling, that could be repackaged both to make it "new" and to acknowledge that people podcast content so they can get the stuff they like, without the stuff they don't, and get it when it is convenient for them. Remixing your content into "newpeats" is a great way to respond to consumer inertia in this regard, extend your "virtual TSL" and open up new sponsorship opportunities.
Written Feb. 5, 2007 in HD Radio + Internet Radio + Podcasting + Technology with 0 Comments
Last week, the UK's most recent RAJAR data was released, and the results were extremely encouraging for British broadcasters. The headline stat, of course, was that more people than ever are listening to the radio in the UK--a record 45 million persons, or about 90% of the population. The primary reason for this growth has been broadcasters' platform-neutral approach to radio. By getting their product squeezed through every possible distribution channel, they have taken the decidedly 'Web 2.0' (and 1.0) approach of building audience first, and cracking the revenue model later. As a result, not only is the reach of terrestrial radio at an all-time high, but the use of other digital platforms to listen to radio is also rising dramatically. For example, almost 8 percent of the 15+ population has listened to radio on their mobile phone. This stat is currently almost unattainable here in the States, where our mobile phones rarely even have a tuner. Of course, getting tuners into mobile phones in the UK was as much a product of intense lobbying by the BBC as it was consumer demand--but, there you go. Maybe our lack of phone-tuners is just lack of effort after all.
Internet radio usage is also continuing to rise (as it is here, and we will soon have some fresh data on that score) and 39% of UK adults have listened to radio over their TV sets. The number that HD fans and foes alike have found solace in is the fact that 16% of UK adults own a DAB receiver. I'll come back to that point in a moment, but the big takeaway here is that by encouraging--and not stifling--the use of radio on other platforms, UK broadcasters are growing their industry. While useless debates rage on here with AFTRA and Harry Fox, broadcasters in the UK have done everything in their power to foster the development of Internet Radio, Podcasting and other digital platforms. Broadcasters have made it easier for UK listeners to consume time-shifted radio content, and listeners have responded by doing so--in record numbers. Here is where "The Paradox of Choice" has not stifled consumption, but clearly encouraged it.
There are some obvious conclusions here. One, certainly, is to fix that AFTRA thing already. Listening to Internet radio in the states is painful--we can't continue to preach about fixing what is "between the records" when what goes on in that space on our streams is...unspeakable. Another would be for high-level radio execs to start talking aggressively to Microsoft. Unlike the iPod and its typical (for Apple) closed-loop environment, the Zune has (gasp!) a pretty good FM tuner. Now Microsoft is working on a Zune phone to compete with the iPhone, and as long as it doesn't match the iPhone's hideous retail price, I wouldn't bet against it (and I am the only, stubborn Mac user in the company.) Broadcasters need to lobby hard to be sure there is at minimum an FM tuner and preferably an HD receiver built into the Zune Phone.
But there is a deeper point to be made here--and this goes back to the 16% penetration of DAB in the UK. DAB receivers are overwhelmingly home units--not installed in vehicles--and the UK model is actually proving successful by reaching people who want compelling audio content in their homes. The UK model is certainly different, with a separate tier of options removed entirely from the AM/FM band. But while many pundits in our business are just waiting for in-car WiFi to kill radio and its 'captive audience' for good, UK broadcasters have come up with a product that is compelling in the most competitive environment of all--the living room.
How have they been able to do this? Simple--necessity is the mother of invention. Broadcasters have thus far had it easy here in the US, with our wide urban streets, plentiful parking garages, suburban sprawl and monstrous ex-urban commutes. No such luck in the UK. Because UK broadcasters must succeed out of the car, they do. Now, so do we.
Here is what Southwest Airlines has to do with all of this. When Reagan deregulated the airline industry, most commercial carriers didn't even blink--they just kept plugging away with the suddenly irrelevant hub-and-spoke system, and failed to grasp what their new mission must be. Southwest, on the other hand, came into the business fresh, able to clear away the cruft of the old system, and find new, more profitable ways to ferry listeners from point to point that eliminated the decaying architecture of the hub-and-spoke system. The airlines hub-and-spoke system is, essentially, our AM/FM-based architecture. Regardless of whether or not the FCC accelerates or reverses consolidation, radio has already been deregulated. Though a handful of broadcasters here in my hometown of RDU have been granted "exclusive" spectrum licenses, sitting here at Starbucks as I type this I can listen to anything in the world I want to, and I do.
What the industry desperately needs is a Southwest Airlines to come in with a radically different model--to amalgamate saleable numbers of passionate listeners, no matter what the platform, using the AM/FM band as a promotional tool. Because the current crop of broadcasters are tied to their own hub-and-spoke system of quarterly books, an increasingly ill-prepared sales function and a failure to understand that radio station websites should be at the other end of the funnel, we are stuck maintaining hundreds of gates at DFW when our listeners can (and do) go anywhere they want, and grab any content they want, with little to no friction.
It's time for a Southwest to come into radio and change the rules.
Written Jan. 24, 2007 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
We love working with Greater Media in Philadelphia for a thousand reasons (one of which, certainly, is the value they place on research!) Case in point: while a lot of terrestrial broadcasters are still grappling with how to monetize streaming and what to do with the growing demand for podcasting, Greater Media stations like WMMR have already aggressively moved into these spaces and are poised to carve out even more real estate on the Infinite Dial in 2007. As mainstream adoption of podcast consumption increases, so, too, does the appetite for quality podcast content. In the early days of podcasting, tech-related content dominated. In recent years, podcasts like Whirlpool's American Family podcast and Mommycast (both of which I've discussed before in this blog) have emerged to fill niches heretofore woefully under-served by radio broadcasters.
So, what was the most-played podcast from last year? According to podcast search engine Podzinger, it was WMMR's own Preston and Steve show. Check out their Daily Feed for a fantastic example of how to build listener love with podcasting. The Daily Feed is hosted by LibSyn, who also hosted our "Podcast Podcast", which is chock full of great insights on the demographics and tastes of the podcast consumer. I'll be updating that report in the coming months with some fresh data for 2007 to help your stations take full advantage of podcasting. In the meantime, you can't find a better template for success than what WMMR is already doing.
Congrats to Preston, Steve, WMMR PD Bill Weston and VP/Market Manager John Fullam.
Written Sep. 1, 2006 in Podcasting with 1 Comment
I know a lot of you have questions about podcasting--not just how to do it, but why, and how to drive revenue. Veteran podcaster Michael Geoghegan is here to help, with his new venture GigaVox. GigaVox is one of a growing number of aggregators and producers for podcast content that are adding value by not only producing compelling content, but helping consumers navigate through the countless (literally) number of podcasts out there. Their three 'channels' of content are an incredibly rich source of information about podcasting (and other IT trends), and their newly launched Podcast Academy channel is an excellent place to 'channel surf' for in-depth conversations and presentations from some of the leaders in the field.
Podcasts are not just a unique content delivery vehicle; they are also a unique venue for advertisers--check out what Ted Murphy and MindComet were able to do for the Lexus IS Fast Lane podcast.
Edison is also proud to be featured on the Podcast Academy. If you haven't yet studied The Podcast Consumer Revealed, you should!
Written Jul. 18, 2006 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Our newest study, The Podcast Consumer Revealed, has gotten a lot of downloads. Thanks to the good folks at Apple, you can now download and watch the complete podcast of this presentation on iTunes! If you already have iTunes installed on your computer, just click on the link below, and you will be taken to the Edison page on the ITMS where you can download the podcast and subscribe to all of our future Edison podcasts.
Written Jul. 14, 2006 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
Here is the enhanced podcast of The Podcast Consumer Revealed, hosted by the fine folks at Liberated Syndication. I met LibSyn's Chris MacDonald at the Corporate Podcast Summit and had a good chat with him about podcasting, revenue models and the future of content. I hope the rampage to listen to me give a 35-minute research presentation doesn't cripple their servers!
Download the complete Podcast here.
Written Jul. 14, 2006 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
We are all very excited about our first foray into the podcasting arena, with a 35-minute presentation entitled (appropriately enough) “The Podcast Consumer Revealed.” The data presented in this study is taken from our most recent Arbitron/Edison study, and is the first major, publicly available source of data on podcast listeners. I presented this data first at the Corporate Podcasting Summit in San Francisco, but now it is available here for the first time.
I thought about re-recording the audio and giving the slides a “proper” narration, but decided to preserve the spirit of the event itself, warts, bad jokes and all. This was a great piece of research, and was extremely well-received by the folks at the conference. I will post some more tidbits about this over the next few days, but one of the more interesting findings to me was the fact that the folks who have ever listened to a podcast in this study, while they are major ad/spam/pop-up blockers, are just as likely to click on relevant advertising as anyone else. So you can certainly advertise to these folks--you just can't run a bunch of unwelcome jive by them. Bad news for the interruption model, as previously noted, but good news for targeted advertising for good products and services.
You will need iTunes or some other podcast player to watch this, and you will also want to expand the slide window as large as you can, since the data will be hard to read if you watch it on a Nano! The slides will show up in the image viewer in iTunes, but you can also download the PDF and follow along at your convenience. Both are available at Edison's home page.
Written Jun. 21, 2006 in Marketing + Podcasting with 0 Comments
I presented highlights from our major new Podcasting study (watch this space for more on this) at the Corporate Podcast Summit yesterday. There were lots of surprising little tidbits on podcast consumers, but here is a pretty basic one to chew on: 48% of the people who have ever listened to a podcast are women. Now, it may be the case that the people producing podcasts are more male (or not) but podcasting is a lot more female--and family--friendly activity than you might have guessed. Content, of course, is the main reason for this--and the convenience of podcasting has made the channel into a popular one amongst both busy moms and harried Web Administrators (and harried moms who are web administrators.) I have talked about Mommycast before in the pages of USA Today, but here is another great family friendly podcast from Whirlpool. Yes, Whirlpool--makers of the washing machine in your utility room (fairly likely, actually, since they also recently purchased Maytag.)
Audrey Reed-Granger from Whirlpool spoke at the summit about how their podcast, The American Family has grown over the past year. They began with just 800 downloads in their first quarter, but are now at 700,000 per quarter with no advertising and almost no conceivable way to get to the podcast from Whirlpool's home page. How? Word of mouth--because the show is good. They have a number of basic tenets for the site--among them, no advertising (EVER), no appliance tips, and really nothing about their products at all--as Audrey said, Whirlpool spends a ton on advertising already; you can't watch a soap opera in this country without seeing a Whirlpool/Jenn-Air/Maytag ad. Instead, the show is about the family, presented in what Audrey called a "Charles Kuralt" style. Clearly, lots of American Families appreciate the American Family. What a fantastic (and low cost!) way to build your brand by focusing on your core values, not your dryer.
Written Jun. 20, 2006 in Podcasting with 0 Comments
...The Corporate Podcast Summit, that is. I will be presenting an exclusive new look at podcast consumers--who they are, what they want and how much they are worth to you. Check this space over the next few days, as I will be dropping some tidbits from this study and passing on the important bits from this conference straight to you. Our data shows that 11% of the folks in our survey have listened to a podcast, and you might be surprised to hear what else they think. More to come--watch this space!