Monday, June 02, 2014

"I always say there are a hundred U.S. senators and eight people with their own show." Lorne Michaels

"The other set of effects, which is more narrowly targeted at the media industries, is that typically the new companies don’t take the profits of the old companies; they make the profits of the old companies go away. You end up having to shift from operating in a position of scarce resources and abundant profits to a world of abundant resources and scarce profits. And the design of businesses and organizations in that second world is very different from that first world."  Clay Shirky

"Smartphones have gotten us used to things that are mostly software and, consequently, get better over time. Every other manufacturer of durable goods will have to follow suit. Their overall success will likely be a product of how well they adapt to this new fact of life."  Phil Windley

Today's image: Lightning Strike Over the Pacific. By Craig HudsonReg Saddler. Thanks for sharing.

Your station sucks

Working in the so-called legacy or old media world ain't what it used to be. Preserving share has never been more difficult, the hard work of growing share never more formidable.

These challenges are made increasingly complex by media's nature, it's one of what Paul Valery called the "delirious professions...all those trades whose main tool is one's opinion of one's self, and whose raw material is the opinion others have of you." In other words, the high-wire acts - those careers where everyone is entitled to an opinion about one's work. Examples: politicians, artists, writers, actors, athletes, singers, musicians, dancers, journalists, comedians and broadcasters.

Accordingly, there's no shortage of opinion about media's present condition, no lack of crystal gazing and wishing out loud. About those employed as "creative people," the legendary critic John Leonard wrote "Each is asked every minute of the day to be original: unique."

Buzz Bennett, a celebrated radio programming ace, nailed it; told the station's receptionist didn't like his new format he said "Everyone has the right to program."

Media folk do their jobs in public, they work in a virtual fishbowl. Moreover, the advent of social networks has endowed public expression with a practically frictionless ease and the velocity of light. The opinions have always been there, the sea change is our new hyperconnectivity.

There are a lot of conversations going on inside the broadcasting trade about the present and future challenges of Broadcasting. For the purposes of this post, allow me to reduce one of those conversations to fifteen words: how do we effectively prepare for the future while remaining competitive and successful this quarter?

Reid Hoffman says "Starting a company is like throwing yourself off the cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down." The challenge for broadcasters is doing what Reid suggests while also working full-time on another demanding job.

In the argot of popular business writings, broadcasters find themselves up against Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma and a need to develop a time-sensitive solution set to affect the potential crossing of a Moore's Chasm. How can Broadcasters optimize present performance and be better prepared for the road ahead? Let me suggest a first step. 

The metrics, stupid

Broadcasters have need for a more comprehensive set of audience and revenue metrics especially at the local and regional levels. This is a critical matter as data could provide the inherent advantages of situational awareness. Where are we? How are we doing compared with all available options? 

The old saw applies here - what we measure gets attention.

We have some grasp of the national and global numbers. For example, one IAB/PwC measure of US time spent with media vs ad spend in 2013 puts TV's share of time spent at 38% with 45% of ad spend, Radio getting 12% of time spent with 10% of the ad spend.

We know from another IAB/PwC measure, Internet ad spend in the US was #1 last year eclipsing Broadcast TV revenues for the first time. We know that Broadcast Radio ranked fifth in revenue behind Internet, Broadcast TV, Cable TV and Newspaper. What we need is a richer perspective of the whole mediascape, a fresh sense of marketplace consumption and revenues. 

Kevin B. Sweeney, one of the great advertising sales and marketing mavens of the 20th century, was known for his list of "Ten Questions" every Broadcast Radio manager needed to be able to answer. One of the ten, list your local newspaper's top 100 advertisers, was intended to shift focus, improve productivity. 

To move forward effectively, Broadcasters need better treasure maps and scorecards.

Broadcast has done a good job of developing vertical competitive tracking systems. To date these have been focused on more and more granular, real-time data about the Broadcast silo. Competitive defined by direct competitors - the Broadcast guys across the street. This well-intended effort has advanced an acute myopia. The reality is, the majority of ad and marketing spend in every market is captured by non-broadcast properties while Broadcasters continue to be almost exclusively preoccupied with broadcast spend.

Again, what's needed is insight which captures the bigger picture. How did Broadcast do last month compared not just with other Broadcast competitors but with all available options - a more complete understanding of consumption and ad spending in our market. Fundamentally, this represents embracing a new and more realistic definition of what's happening in the marketplace.

We are living on the edge of a brave new world. One which is less about Radio and TV and more about audio and video. Less about Newspaper, Print and more about text. 

For the record, my take is Nielsen will step up and do an outstanding job of providing some of the new audio and video data needed by Broadcasters.

To be continued: Next, creating a local media ecosystem.

Good reads: Fred Jacobs has a great post on the state of commercial Radio. Read "The Flat Radio Society" here. Tom Asacker suggests we "Create some drama," his latest writing is worth the jump here.

ICYMI: Recommended reading: Fiction: Two great reads from 2013. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt [AMZN] and Lexicon by Max Barry [AMZN] Non-Fiction: The book we all need to read and keep reading is How to Write Short - Word Craft for Fast Times by Roy Peter Clark [AMZN]

Thanks for stopping by.

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