Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams

"When a thing has been said, and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it." Anatole France

"Anyone can make the simple complicated - creativity is making the complicated simple." Charles Mingus

Russell Davies
has written an interesting post, the image above is a slide taken from his piece. Blurry, Interesting, Useful, Always in Beta. Some thoughts on brands and media....

"A lot of brands are realising this means they have to get interesting. ie they have to create stuff that people actually want to engage with, stuff that people will want to watch over and above any other conveniently accessible choice. This means abandoning the usual reductionist, bash-them-over-the-head-with-a-simple-message approach because it's simply not financially effective to spend the kind of media money that will let you do that. Or even if it is now, it won't be soon. This means being willing to embrace negative emotion, being willing to tell people incomplete stories, being willing to give them room to think and realising that the most interesting communications are sometimes contradictory."

Kudos, Russell! Read his post here.

To win, you must effectively play the hand you have: You take advantage of the population base you have and use physics as a tie-breaker. Successful broadcast stations have a deep understanding of these fundamental, self-evident market forces.

No matter how good your programming, ratings success depends on the size of your target population and your signal coverage. Simply put: are there enough people (i.e., incidence rate) and does your signal reach them (primary service contour)? One is able to make changes in a great many competitive factors however one can not change the population base of the market nor your transmission physics.

Last year we predicted this year's ongoing ratings failure of a major market station. We reached our decision after study of the population dynamics within the station's primary service contour. Our suggestion was the station would fail no matter how well it was programmed and promoted because the targeted population was too small; further, not an insignificant percentage of that target population live on the edges or just outside of the station's primary service contour. Arbitron is doing a good job of measuring the market under discussion here, our analysis indicates they continue to capture and employ solid representative in-tabs. The format is failing not because of Arbitron, not because of any lag in listening and measurement, not because of diary placement. The reality here is good programming is failing because the target audience is too small and the signal lacks the potential of reaching 100% of the targeted population. In this case, population and physics trump good programming. It was ever thus.

In the PPM world we will benefit from a larger, more stable data set. The unexpected success from a "good" bounce (that presently presents the excuse used to prolong a failing station) will be diminished. What matters now, in fact, what has always mattered is reach. Pure, unadulterated reach. Get it and you win. Cume makes all good things happen.

Lesser signals serve as R&D labs for the attentive big dogs. There are times when innovative original programming is born on a limited facility. Take for example the Class A FM property that debuts a new format and achieves modest success. We have seen cases where such a station makes significant ratings gains within their coverage areas (measured by zip code or block code analysis). The alert full-facility operator runs with the format and given the better physics wins the bigger geography and therefore the battle. There are ongoing exhibits of full-signal metro operators being attacked by "ratings robbers", competitors adopting a strategy of using their weakest player to dilute efforts of another full-signal competitor. In the final analysis the use of any signal as a drone (or even a flanker) offers considerably less economic return than developing and enjoying the full potential of the asset.

We continue to wonder at suburban operators intent on playing a game they have no possible chance of winning (e.g., attempting to compete with full-signal competitors and targeting the full metro). This is a failure of leadership. Management is responsible for putting the assets to work in a manner that adds value and creates wealth. The suburban station that takes full advantage of being a suburban station changes the game. They begin to play a game they are uniquely qualified to win - the metro stations are simply not able, nor willing, to compete. These suburban operators have turned their limited signal to advantage and in the process created authentic and sustainable barriers to entry.

Know your population, know your physics.