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Radio's denial of Pandora might end up costing them both when ad dollars "move on"

Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 1:25pm

Broadcast radio's squabbling over Pandora's attempts to assert itself as a major player for radio ad dollars has made it on to the pages of The Wall Street Journal. And one expert told the paper this split may end up costing both Pandora and traditional radio in the long run.

You'll recall (here) Arbitron this week issued a statement -- apparently at the behest of its broadcast radio customers -- critical of listening estimates for Internet radio services based on server log data, self-reported listener demographic info, and without a "detailed description of methodology" (like Arbitron's). Market research firm Edison Research has recently been issuing estimates of Pandora's listening with metrics identical to traditional broadcast radio studies (more here). Pandora founder Tim Westergren called Arbitron's statement part of a "concerted effort" to keep Pandora out of the radio ad market as the online radio medium grows into real competition for radio.

"The broadcast industry does not want the world to know about us, basically."

This week's Arbitron statement came as the company is trying to convince its broadcaster clients to support its upcoming Total Audience Measurement product (more here), designed to measure and consolidate on-air, online, and satellite listening.

Late yesterday came news that Clear Channel-owned online ad-sales firm Katz360 -- like Arbitron, a company the counts broadcast radio groups as its main clients -- dropped Pandora from their sales network (see today's top story). (Pandora is far-and-away the most-listened-to webcaster online, dwarfing the online audiences of broadcasters like Clear Channel, CBS Radio, and Cumulus.)

Marketers are making it clear, however, they want a more "all-in-one," cross-platform ratings system to better target their ad messages (see the second-half of this recent RAIN story). Matt Feinberg, a former radio ad-buyer, told the Journal, "There are so many media vehicles out there for consideration the harder you make it for an advertiser or agency to make a decision, the quicker they will move on."

Wall Street Journal subscribers can read their coverage here.

NPR receives $1.5 million grant to expand Internet efforts

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 1:10pm

NPR's websiteNPR has received a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to further develop its digital expansion. "We want to support their embrace of the Internet," said Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen.

A $1 million portion of the grant will be devoted to providing web skills training at local NPR member stations. The grant will also provide "digital coaches" for NPR journalists.

"Our expectation is that NPR will not just continue to provide quality journalism, but that it will become a model for nimbleness in the digital age, and that it will bring some stations along with it," said the Foundation's John Bracken.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation previously donated $1.5 million to NPR for web training in 2007.

You can find more coverage from Radio-Info here.

D.C. news outlet will make online "as high a priority as radio"

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 1:10pm

WTOP.comHubbard Radio's WTOP (Washington D.C., 103.5 FM) has restructuerd and expanded its workforce to "unify digital and broadcast staff." The station says its aiming to "redefine the news workflow. Instead of the traditional model which takes broadcast content and tries to fit it into a digital hole, WTOP’s strategy will focus on the creation of news stories at the beginning of a process. A story’s execution will be determined at its origin. It will then be optimized for all the distribution platforms WTOP offers: radio, web, Facebook, Twitter and mobile."

The Washington Post reports that WTOP intends to "to make online news as high a priority as radio and in some cases break news online first."

"The future is digital and WTOP will be the leader heading into that future," said VP of News and Programming Jim Farley.

One of the many changes includes having "both a digital editor and a radio editor working together 24/7," said Farley. "No other radio station in America does this."

Here's just a few of the moves WTOP has announced: John Meyer, WTOP's current director of digital operations moves to the newsroom as the new architect of the social and digital strategy. News director Mike McMearty will become senior news director, as assistant news director Mitchell Miller is promoted to news director. Digital editor Gary Emerling becomes the senior digital editor. And former WABC PD Laurie Cantillo joins WTOP to serve in the same role.

"The moves signal a growing digital role at WTOP, which already attracts 600,000 page views and 122,000 unique visitors on a typical day," writes Inside Radio.

You can find more coverage from the Washington Post hereRadio-Info here, Talkers.com here and subscribe to Inside Radio here to read their coverage.

Triton's Agovino says customizable pureplay programming more compelling than simple simulcasts

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 12:00pm

The 826 million hours of online radio listening Triton Digital Media tallied in September is 20% more than January's total. And while listening to broadcast radio simulcast online is indeed growing, it's the huge gains made by Pandora (and, to a much lesser extent, other "pureplay" Internet radio outlets) that's powering that growth.

As a matter of fact, two years ago, 70% of online listening Triton measured was credited to simulcast streams of broadcast radio. As of September's numbers, it's online-only radio that accounts for 70%. During those two years, Pandora saw its AQH (note: we're switching here to the AQH number) more than quintuple from 147,673 in September, 2009  (Mo-Su 6a-12M)  to 752,816 in September, 2011.

[Take a look at the chart on the right. The "outlier" is Pandora. A larger and easier-to-read-sized graph is here. Also, see RAIN's coverage of the September 2011 Triton Digital Webcast Metrics ratings here.]

Mike AgovinoTriton Digital COO Mike Agovino thinks pureplay outlets that allow the listener to influence the music they hear have a clear advantage over basic online simulcasts here. "The broadcast simulcast model does not translate online, where you have so much choice, so much less clutter and the opportunity to customize the experience," Agovino explained, as reported by Inside Radio today. "Broadcasters need to look at how to take the best of their brand experience over the air... and combine it with more choice, less clutter and the ability to customize the content."
 
And, like most things, the best time for broadcasters to start enhancing their online offerings would be "now." Inside Radio writes, "Depending on the market and demographic, the online audience can represent 3%-10% of overall listening for a radio station, Triton says. The company expects that percentage to hit an inflection point within the next 12-18 months with a double-digit percentage of demographics under 40 that will fuel more growth for the space."

Subscribe to Inside Radio here.

To compete with over-the-air radio, Pandora says it needs the same audience metrics

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 12:00pm

Pandora founder Tim Westergren, speaking to advertising executives last week, stressed the need for a "universal metric" to measure listening to both traditional, broadcast radio and Internet radio services like his own.

"It's really absurd there's not an apples-to-apples" comparison, he told a group of advertising professionals at agency Horizon Media. 

Pandora reported $176 million in ad revenues for its fiscal year ending July 31. Advertisers spent $17 billion on AM/FM radio advertising last year; and as Pandora says it now owns 4% of radio listening in the U.S., the webcaster obviously feels a bigger slice of that pie. 

In fact, this sounds like exactly what audience metrics firm Arbitron is working towards now. Over the past few months, Arbitron has revealed some of its plans for an integrated over-the-air and Internet radio measurement system (in RAIN here and also here). Towards these efforts, the company acquired Finnish mobile audience measurement and analytics firm Zokem Oy (see RAIN here) in July, then partnered with Belgian ad tech firm AdSwizz last month (in RAIN here). Arbitron EVP/COO Sean Creamer explained AdSwizz will, in fact, convert server-based streaming radio data (such as from webcasters) into traditional broadcast radio metrics like Average Quarter Hour, Time Spent Listening, and Cumulative Audience.

Without a platform-agnostic metric, Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble explained Pandora sales efforts involve "doing manual calculations to turn unique visitors and time spent into traditional-radio metrics such as average quarterly hour," reports. Read more here.

Genesis Communications launches Flordia talk radio website

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:00am

NewsTalkFlorida.com is a new website from Genesis Communications offering streams from Tampa's "Talk 1470" WMGG, "News 820" WWBA and Melbourne's "News Talk AM 1060" WIXC. The site also offers news and weather updates. Radio-Info's Tom Taylor has more in today's newsletter here.

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