5/30/13: As digital ads sales grow, broadcasters and webcasters staffing up sales forces

Paul Maloney
May 30, 2013 - 12:45pm

Borrell Associates says its research shows local media companies with ad execs dedicated to digital sales average twice the online revenue of those without specialized AEs, and that hiring digital sales representatives is rising.

Borrell has released its 2013 update on local media digital sales executives, "Assessing Local Digital Sales Forces." You can download a free executive summary of the study here.

Greg Harmon, the study's author, also sees some bold competition from "online pureplay" companies (for example, Pandora or Yelp) who are paying an average starting salary 50% higher than what TV, newspaper, and radio managers offer.

The ad reps, whether working for a pureplay or a traditional media outlet, will likely have plenty to do. Today Strata says its data from a first quarter survey shows 76% of advertisers are "more interested in digital than they were a year ago (up 51% over 2011)," including the "streaming/online radio" segment, for which 54% say they are "more interested in this than last year."

In its summary of the survey, Strata mentioned "streaming or online radio/TV" as an example of a new advertising area into which 47% of respondents say they'll soon expand. Read more from Strata here.

Strata, you'll remember (from RAIN coverage here), is one of the two media buying platforms that has integrated Pandora inventory into their platforms. Pandora CFO Mike Herring called that "a watershed moment" for Internet radio.

He spoke at the Cowen Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, also addressing the webcaster's growing sales force, saying, "every one of [the recent hires] was a top one, two, three seller at their local [terrestrial] station." (He's also quoted as saying these new hires "take somewhat of an initial pay cut coming to Pandora, with the opportunity to be part of something that’s growing," which doesn't necessarily contradict the Borrell finding, as these AEs weren't necessarily dedicated digital sellers at their previous employers.)

And growing it is: Herring says Pandora is increasing the amount of ads it sells and airs, to a maximum of about "3-1/2 units an hour, and they only use :15s and :30s," reports Tom Taylor Now. Read more on Herring's quotes from the Cowen conference from Tom here.

Paul Maloney
May 30, 2013 - 12:45pm

Following its 40-hour/month cap on ad-supported mobile listening, Pandora has become the top-grossing "non-game" app publisher in Apple's App Store, according to app tracking firm App Annie.

"Pandora’s (app) revenue has been climbing steadily since it implemented fees for users who want to listen beyond forty hours a month on their mobile devices," reads the App Annie blog here. "It has now become the new top-grossing publisher based on revenue excluding games in the iOS App Store as of April. Its accomplishment is even more impressive given that it was based on just a single app."

Following the cap on free mobile listening (which came in February), Pandora added more than 700-thousand new subscribers to its ad-free Pandora One service in its first quarter (which ended April 30), up 114% to more than two-and-a-half million (and more net new subscribers in the quarter than in all of fiscal 2013, which means Pandora has the largest U.S. streaming subscription audience of any music service). Read more in RAIN here.

Paul Maloney
May 30, 2013 - 12:45pm

The BBC has decided to significantly expand radio content downloads via its iPlayer platform on the web and mobile devices, beginning next year. The DRM-protected downloads will make it easier to listen to programming when a connection isn't available (especially important to mobile users).

"This means that listeners will be able to download radio shows for up to seven days after the broadcast and have a 30-day window to open it. Once they’ve 'opened' it, they will then have a further seven days to listen to it. So this essentially extends the listening window from one week to six weeks," reports TheNextWeb here.

This news comes shortly after the company reported continued listening growth via iPlayer Radio -- "a record-breaking 74 million requests, up 3% on March's 72 million requests," writes DigitalSpy here. The company says news of the death and funeral coverage of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher drove increased listening.