Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Adornment is never anything except a reflection of the heart." Coco Chanel

"Delusion is the abandonment of outer reality in favour of inner wish." Alain de Botton

"It is the theory which decides what we can observe." Albert Einstein

Today's image: cold sunday morning by C a f r i n e. Amazing! Thank you very much.

Lost & Found: Back in the day it was a wonderment - to read, enjoy and discuss the latest Release 1.0 (thanks, usually, to the kindness of a friend or colleague that could afford those then expensive writings of the great Esther Dyson). Over the years the issues I did have were lost (if two moves = one fire, my six moves = ?). Now, Tim O'Reilly is offering the entire collection of Esther's R1.0 free online here. Very cool. Kudos to Tim and thanks to Dr Dave for the tip.

Your attention, please: Tom Asacker asks why we scan emails, save the ones we want to spend more time with and then never look at them again - with comments here. This mystery of media consumption must be related to the stacks of magazines and newspapers I'm not throwing out yet.

Internet radio is a DIFFERENT medium: Kurt Hanson gets it right, again...

"Webcasters who take advantage of the characteristics of the new medium — e.g., LAUNCHcast, Pandora, etc. — are, I believe, going to be the ones that see the greatest success in this medium. And right now, the Internet efforts of traditional radio broadcasters (AM/FM broadcast groups, satellite radio companies, etc.) are not playing in that game." More here.

Bravos, Kurt. My sense is the linear experience of broadcast is genetically hardwired.

Radio execs continue to have important and valuable missed opportunities at hand. Take streaming. The majority of stations are doing a terrible job of putting their over-the-air product online.

The simple test is how a station handles stop sets

Failing to simulcast, to insert the commercials as aired, means the streaming will not receive Arbitron credit, granted that's a business decision. However, given that election the result should not be a poorly executed stop set. You've heard them, chopped audio, the use of one boring music loop, repeating the same three, four Ad Council spots, the same one or two promos, or worst of all, dead air (is this thing still working?). Stuff you would never allow to happen on air is tolerated, accepted online. These stop sets are beyond the pale however they do serve to conclusively prove that no one is minding the store. What we have here is a massive failure of imagination for which there's simply no excuse. Online stop sets represent one of the greatest creative opportunities for radio in 2008. Moreover, smart operators will turn this unused inventory into real money. Aside: During my salad days with RKO Radio my mentor the legendary Dwight Case would say "Dave, what you programming people call a stop set, our sales people know, correctly, is a go set."

The cobbler's children have no shoes

That the recognized experts of consumer audio are not leading the online audio charge is, well, practically without any reasonable explanation. Instead we increasingly find the pro-am folks are in the front of that parade. Stay tuned, the whole world is going pro-am before our very ears. For radio to seriously get into the online game we need to, in the majority of cases, take the websites away from the clearly over-worked station folks. This is not to suggest that stations farm out the work, they would be better served by investment, bringing the work in-house and establishing dedicated online teams. With all respect to my friend Dan Mason making the program directors responsible for their websites is at best a temp solution.

PDs in charge will not get the job done, will not move forward the much needed creation of new competitive space, won't move the needle and jump start the revenues that are possible. By the way, our main channel sellers are exactly the wrong people needed to properly monetize our digital assets. One need only look at the job they're doing with the inventory they already have. Certainly there are those rare exceptions but too few to mention. Ok, I'll mention one. Bonneville, Chicago. Schnacke and Horowitz do get it.

While the website should be considered a stand alone business it too often remains an after thought, it should be a collection of prized digital assets. Some of us have been in this movie before. We have a history of doing this stuff. We are treating online assets in the same way an earlier generation of AM guys treated nascent FM. It actually took a change in federal regulation to birth FM (the non-duplication rules). The feds promoted the growth of FM by force of rule making, in the online battle space radio must save itself. This generation's FM guys need to stop treating online like their AM.

Closed circuit to Miller Kaplan: Could we please get current and change that catch all now labeled Network & Other. In the least we need a dedicated line measuring radio's online rev capture. If we can't measure it we can't manage it and we're not measuring it now. Radio has no real idea of where it stands in the growing online spend and we urgently need a performance metric.

Radio needs to get into the export business and out of the import game, that dated 1.0 mindset of attracting listeners to a walled garden. Radio folks continue to talk a good game and then put things on hold. As every good radio manager knows the best way to kill an idea is to find a way for it to cost money. Radio needs to get out of the dangerous sport, the circus side show of dodging bullets and get into the 21st century fight because the battle space is moving, the velocity of change accelerating. The swagger of "Yep, ain't nothing killed us so far" is sounding a wee bit anachronistic.

"There is nothing so exhilarating as being shot at without result" so said Churchill. Radio shouldn't count on that always being the case, it won't be. The good news is there are some bright folks out there, Kurt Hanson included, that can show the way. Game on.

LATER: Mel Taylor weighs in via comments...

"...not to name names....but some in Radio believe that streaming and page view growth equals success. it's a nice start, but will not be enough in a hyper-competitive onlne (sic) space"

Bravo, Mel. Well said. Read more in comments below and at Mel's blog here.

You remember last time

Previously, it was suggested here that it was time the HD Radio Alliance starting sharing receiver sales data (read that earlier post here). Let me now, respectfully, make a second suggestion to Peter Ferrara - please, show us your web site stats. In fact, please start posting them weekly, if not daily. Alliance members have invested about $400 million in promotional inventory and while we have no accounting for how much of that investment actually made mention of hdradio.com domain we do have at least one third party measure of web traffic thanks to Compete.

How would you like to invest some $400 million and get results like this?

33,000 something website visitors per month

$400 million invested, the second most tracked creative on commercial radio nationwide, according to monitors, and radio gets beaten by two dead tree guys including one metro daily?

USA Today ranks #68 (11,739,316), The Chicago Sun-Times ranks #1,101 (1,448,929) and HDRadio.com ranks #50,340 (33,103) Ouch!

A single radio station website can easily generate more uvs in a week than hdradio.com appears to be capturing in a month. And to put this into perspective, these hdradio.com results were produced with a major national campaign running.

As my Georgia relatives would say "Something bad wrong here."

These anemic traffic stats would seem to suggest one of two possible causes. Radio is not an effective media for driving web traffic or the messaging is wrong, it's not working. I vote the latter as I know the former to be plainly false.

Lets do the arithmetic. Again, as before with receiver sales data, absent the real numbers we'll make some up. Let's say only one-third of the $400 million mentioned the domain, the hdradio.com url, or $133 million in weight. Divide by twenty months = $6.65 million per month and provided 33,000 visitors per month = $201.51 per visitor. What's that CPM? With all that weight wouldn't it seem fair that at least one million or more people would have Googled it over a year? We can be certain $400 million generated some level of awareness, some consumer curiosity.

What's needed here is a measure of accountability. We need to know what was delivered, what was produced by the investment. Clearly, it's time to fix this. That process must start with transparency, a full disclosure of the any and all available metrics. We can do this, let's get started. Updates here and here.

Alfred I. duPont - Columbia University 2008 News Awards - congrats to the 13 winners, here. Thanks to Larry Shannon and RDN for the tip.

Bonus: NPR diva Susan Stamberg shares the Independent Booksellers' Picks here.

Congrats & cheers: RAB is now blogging RABBlog, kudos to George Hyde and welcome to the conversation. Also, bravos to George for inviting Amy Van Hook and Gordon Borrell to play at RAB 2008, smart moves both. Microsoft bows Stay At Home Servers, bravos!


Anonymous said...


Your description of the mistakes that Radio is currently making in regards to web are quite accurate.

Putting overworked PD's and marketing folk in charge of web is a poor mid-long term solution.

And not to name names....but some in Radio believe that streaming and page view growth equals success. it's a nice start, but will not be enough in a hyper-competitive onlne space.

you are also correct to point out the need for miller kaplan to help out here. unfortunatley, miller kaplan and others still can only guess as to what the entire online revenue pies is...locally.

so, while a radio station's online
revenue can be up %100, it's share is actually plummeting. See: Borrell research.

I point to your blog article via mine: www.MelTaylorMedia.com