Shutting off ad-insertion (or streaming altogether) may be the "austerity" that costs far more down the road

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 12:55pm

So, you're a local radio broadcaster (or you head a group), and your online efforts over the past 10 years haven't done much of anything postive for your bottom line. Specifically, you feel the process of replacing your advertisers' on-air content in your streams with online-only material simply costs too much, sounds horrible, and doesn't generate the revenue to make it worth the bother.

Think you'll abandon "ad-insertion" and simply stream a pure simulcast of your on-air signal? Or perhaps shut down the stream altogether? Certainly you want to carefully consider such a move, and gather as much information and opinion as feasible to advise your decision, right?

"Traditional radio is not dead, but its future is inextricably tied to digital." That's Mike Agovino (here), who'll speak at RAIN Summit Europe in Berlin October 5. But he's COO and co-founder of Triton Digital, so what might you expect him to say?

But consider the thoughts of Radio Ink publisher Eric Rhoads, who recently called it "foolish" for radio to ignore its online streaming, and wrote, "Streaming will be your primary source of revenue" by 2016, and that "your transmitter will make up only a small percentage of your listening." (See more in RAIN here. )

Rhoads' own publication today offers an interview with SAG/AFTRA National Associate Director Mathis Dunn exploring the realities of compensation for voice talent when streaming ads produced for broadcast radio (that's here). But make sure you also read consultant Mark Ramsey's analysis of the interview, his thoughts on abandoing streaming, the assumption that ad-insertion is necessarily "clunky," and the need for a realistic business model for it (here).

"But is (simply simulcasting the on-air signal's programming and ads online) any way to serve the interests of our clients, let alone our consumers?" he asks. "Is this the way to stage radio for a future where ever-more consumption happens online and radio competes not only against Pandora and its kind, but also potentially against streaming services from Apple, Google, and Amazon? All of whom will squeeze every ounce of value creation out of technology for the benefit of advertisers and listeners alike."

That's what you, the broadcaster, need to decide. We're looking forward to getting lots more input on this very matter during the "Online Strategies for Local Broadcasters" session (more here) at RAIN Summit Dallas. This Tuesday CBS Radio/Dallas' Dan Halyburton will moderate this panel discussion, with panelists Emmis Digital VP Angie May Cook (whose WQHT/New York "Hot 97" is one of the nation's most-innovative when it comes to its new media efforts), Triton Digital's Stephanie Donovan, TargetSpot's Elizabeth Pardieu, and Dave Van Dyke of Radiate Media. 

AdsWizz, StreamGuys partner for ad-insertion product for streams and podcasts

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 12:50pm

Streaming provider StreamGuys has announced a partnership with ad-serving and audience measurement firm AdsWizz. The companies will provide webcasters "mobile-friendly, multi-platform streaming solutions with targeted, rich media advertising capabilities."

The two companies have developed a system that inserts "pre-roll" and "mid-roll" audio ads into podcasts. The companies will offer include audio and video instream ad-insertion, which can be targeted to listeners of specific gender, other demographic, geographic data. The StreamGuys/AdsWizz solution supports Flash and Icecast streaming for MP3 and HE-AAC audio formats; as well as Flash and iOS for video.

Read more in the press release here.

AdsWizz VP/Sales & Marketing Patrick Roger will moderate the "Targeted Advertising & Listener Registration" panel at RAIN Summit Europe in Berlin, October 5th. AdsWizz Product Manager Erik Barraud will speak on the Measurement Options for Streaming Audio panel as well.

Saga no longer sees the need to cover on-air ads when streaming

Monday, August 20, 2012 - 1:10pm

Broadcast group Saga Communications has decided to no longer substitute "online only" content for the on-air ads on its stations' Internet streams. Now, everything that goes out over the air can also be heard online.

In June Saga announced it would shut down streams of stations outside the Top 100 markets, and place geographical limits on who can listen to the remaining streams (see RAIN here).

Ten years ago radio advertisers' agreement with AFTRA, the union that represents voice talent on radio commercials, forbid the online use of spots created for on-air radio without significantly costly added fees. This forced broadcasters to substitute other content on the stream when ads ran on-air. Broadcasters use various companies' technologies to "insert" other ads, public service announcements, music beds, or simply silence.

But Saga says those AFTRA stipulations are almost entirely a thing of the past. "It doesn’t make sense for us to change the entire way do business because of a couple of isolated incidents," Saga EVP Warren Lada told Inside Radio. "The voice talent is negotiating a contract with advertiser or agency — it’s up to them to come up with whatever that arrangement is."

"Lada says SAG-AFTRA reps have also told him that as long as a union talent is paid the negotiated rate for a multi-platform ad they now essentially see it as a non-issue — and the union doesn’t track radio spots regardless," reports Inside Radio.

Lada says he first looked into the issue because the substitution of online-only content over the on-air ads sounded terrible (uneven audio levels, timing problems, etc.). He said he's not worried about losing the streaming inventory, because it's really not all that profitable, especially compared to mobile text messaging and e-mail blasts. "It’s time for the industry to man up and recognize that primarily most of our audience is on-air and we should just include the stream with it — it’s just part of what we do," he said.

Abacast publishes case studies on clients "generating significant profits" with streaming

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 10:00am

Streaming solutions provider Abacast has announced it's making available two recent case studies which it says show how Abacast client broadcasters are "generating significant profits in radio streaming" with the company's products. Abacast Clarity

The first case study features Federated Media, an Indiana broadcast group with 15 stations. Abacast says Federated was able to sell more than 50% of its annual digital inventory with a "one-day sale" in September, which put the broadcaster past the point of annual profitability for streaming, and generated an annual gross profit margin of 83% (including bandwidth and royalty costs). Read more in the Federated Media case study.

Neuhoff Media owns 12 stations in Illinois, and is another Abacast client. Abacast's Neuhoff Media case study shows that in the first month of their efforts, Neuhoff's Decatur, IL cluster sold 40% of the available yearly digital ad packages, covering their annual streaming costs and achieving annual profitability, with streaming gross profit margins of 50% after the first month.

Abacast provides streaming and ad management software and digital sales services to the radio industry.

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