ESPN

ESPN releases key findings of multi-platform audience measurement with comScore and Arbitron

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 12:55pm

ESPN has just wrapped up a month-long audience measurement initiative as a "proof-of-concept" for a multi-platform measurement solution of audio/video/display media consumption from comScore and Arbitron.

The measurement initiative, Project Blueprint, polled data from radio, television, PCs, smartphones, and tablets. Launched last September (we reported on it here), the study ran in February.

ESPN has released some key findings now. Read more in TVNewsCheck here.

Mobile ad sales not lagging, stresses Summit panel, they're coming along nicely

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 1:40pm

The professionals on the RAIN Summit West "Profiting from Mobile" panel all agreed that mobile's ad sales outlook has, and continues to, significantly improve.

Even moderator Michael Theodore (Interactive Advertising Bureau VP) questioned whether the premise of "how do we fix mobile?" was correct. He said, "Those who feel mobile isn’t generating enough dollars are way too impatient." He illustrated his point by comparing the 2010 $1 billion mobile ad spend with television's $105 million in 1950. By 1952, TV's ad revenue had tripled, and Theodore is expecting the same for mobile when the 2012 numbers come out.

Pandora SVP/Ad sales Steven Kritzman quickly summed it up for his company: "Mobile is 65% of our revenue." What's more, mobile revenue growth has caught up to mobile listening growth, and is now outpacing it for the leading webcaster.

Clear Channel Media SVP/Local Digital Sales Michelle Savoy (left) said it's even time to ratchet up CPMs (ad rates). She credits an improved, richer, and more engaging mobile experience. Kritzman said much the same, saying mobile Pandora listeners tend to interact with the app much more than desktop users (for a station created by Pandora for an advertiser, for instance, Pandora sees 10 to 12 times the adoption on mobile). He's looking for the ad industry to improve its "engagement metrics" to better measure that interaction, and for marketers to improve ad creative.

If you're a webcaster or broadcaster, you absolutely need to have a mobile presence, stressed Abacast Director of Sales and Revenue Michael Dalfonzo. Already with 60-70% of his clients' listeners coming in via mobile, you need to get a branded mobile app, and to be available on the large aggregators (TuneIn, iHeartRadio). Oh, and build an alarm clock into it, so you can tune your listeners in the moment they wake up.

One key for the future he suggested will be the ability to target ad to individuals by the device they're using to listen. "you can reach them right when they're ready to make a purchase."

ESPN Audio Senior Director of Distribution & Business Strategy Patrick Polking said his company's main mobile challenge now is in distribution, that is, new partners and platforms to distribute ESPN content beyond SiriusXM, TuneIn, and Slacker. "Scale is going to be very valuable," he said.

Look for more recaps of the panels, presentations, and speeches from Sunday's RAIN Summit West.

RAIN Summit West panel will examine how webcasters can make money from growing mobile listening

Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 12:30pm

Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics report (see today's coverage) includes analysis that indicates growing Internet radio listening is being driven by listening on mobile devices.

Now, there are special concerns and issues when it comes to monetizing this listening (compared to over-the-air or desktop streaming). This Sunday at RAIN Summit West, our panel "Profiting from Mobile" will address the question "What are the critical elements to making money with mobile?"

Contributing to the panel is Michael Dalfonzo, director of sales and revenue for Abacast, a software/services provider for online radio. Abacast recently launched cloud-based ad-insertion with partner ESPN (see RAIN here), and technology that allows song-skipping on live broadcast streams (more here and here). Dalfonzo (pictured right) is a broadcast radio programming vet, and an experienced consultant and researcher. He was also VP/Sales at Spacial Audio Solutions.

Speaking of ESPN, senior director of distribution & business strategy with ESPN Audio Patrick Polking joins us as well. ESPN Radio is the most-listened-to single live stream of any AM/FM broadcaster in the world, and mobile is an increasingly important component to that audience. ESPN SVP of production/pusiness divisions Traug Keller delivered the RAIN Summit West keynote last year (here), and took the occasion to preview the newly-updated ESPNRadio mobile app. Polking (pictured left) is a former financial analyst and led business development at Found, Inc.

Special thanks to Clear Channel SVP/local digital sales Michelle Savoy, pinch-hitting on the panel for Clear Channel's Rick Song. Before joining Clear Channel in November, Savoy spent over twelve years with Gannett Digital, specializing in revenue building, business development, and ad operations. The company announced today iHeartRadio's "Perfect For" feature and alarm clock function (which were added in January) are now available on the iHeartRadio Android app.

Moderating our "Profiting from Mobile" panel will be the IAB's Michael Theodore. Also speaking, Pandora's Steven Kritzman (more details here).

RAIN Summit West is this Sunday at the LVH Hotel in Las Vegas. The annual full-day Internet radio conference is a co-located education program of the NAB Show. Now in its 12th year, the Summit focuses on the intersection of radio and the Internet. Keynoting the even will be RAB president and CEO Erica Farber (more in RAIN here

) and Rhapsody International president Jon Irwin (more here

). Very limited space is still available. Links to register are on our RAIN Summit West page.

ESPN Digital Audio launch partner for new Abacast cloud-based ad-insertion

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 11:55am

ESPN Digital Audio is launching Abascast-powered "cloud-based ad-insertion," to target listeners of national broadcasts by device, location, age, and gender in real time.

An article in AdWeek reads, "Essentially, this means that during large radio broadcast events like last month's BCS Championship game, during which ESPN Radio hosted nearly 110,000 mobile audio streams, ESPN will be able to serve individual ads to each one of those listeners during live breaks."

The cloud-based ad-insertion can send different in-stream audio ads to different groups of listeners, like "all smartphone listeners," "all listeners in the top 20 DMAs that are on iPhones," "all male listeners in the 25-34 age range in a group of zip codes," "all listeners listening on the TuneIn player," and more.

ESPN Digital Audio senior manager Blair Cullen told Adweek: "It didn't make sense that we were targeting women with a lot of the ads that were running. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are going to get different ad breaks. You could be in the same car as your friend wearing different headsets, and you'll still be served a different ad than that person."

Last November (in RAIN here) Abacast announced it had been granted a "patent allowance" for "ad and song insertion." Earlier this month (in RAIN here) the company unveiled its "live stream song-skipping" technology.

Read more from AdWeek here. Abacast's press release is here.

Arbitron says long-awaited integrated ratings service is "still in the works"

Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 6:45pm

Arbitron's long-awaited cross-platform ratings service (more here) is "still in the works," according to company EVP/COO Sean Creamer on the Arbitron Q3 conference call yesterday. "It's not a question of if, but when, we launch this service."

Creamer said, "the goal is an integrated service so (radio) stations get total credit" for listening, regardless of the platform on which it happens. FMQB reports that for Internet-delivered radio content, the Arbitron service "would use online logs to measure Internet radio listenership and include all types of Web radio, from terrestrial stations' streams to services such as Pandora."

As we reported last month (here), Arbtitron announced an arrangement with comScore and ESPN to measure the sports network's audience for audio, video, and display content across radio, television, the web, and mobile platforms. Mediapost quotes Creamer saying on yesterday's conference call, "This (ESPN) project underscores radio’s importance and relevance in a cross-platform world."

Read more from FMBQ here and Mediapost here.

Digital content producers at RAIN Summit suggest "trying to get 22 year-olds to listen to AM/FM" maybe is missing the point

Monday, September 24, 2012 - 12:25pm

In his opening remarks at Tuesday's RAIN Summit Dallas, consultant Walter Sabo emphasized the need for radio to develop "original, exclusive content" to weather the transition to the digital medium (see coverage of, and listen to, Sabo's opening remarks here), and even made a point that he was looking forward to the afternoon's "Innovating Online Content" panel (which immediately followed his opening).

Moderator Sean Ross (right, himself VP/Music & Programming at Edison Research) deftly led the conversation among four leading programming executives through what they're currently developing, what's working, and the staffing and monetization challenges of financing the production of compelling content.

And one could sense the sincerity of Ross, lifelong radio devotee himself, when he implored his panel for a strategy to "repatriate" today's 22 year-old to radio. To that last concern, ESPN Radio Director of Digital & Print Media Revenue & Operations Cory Smith (left, with the two RAIN Internet Radio Awards won by ESPN Audio) suggested that maybe getting young people to actually listen to the AM/FM broadcast wasn't the point. We "give content to listeners in the format they prefer," whether on-demand, video, blogs, SMS..."let the user decide," he said. "Pushing everyone to radio might be a real challenge."

"We're moving to a world of 'segments' and less a world of 'streams,'" Bob Kempf, NPR Digital Services VP, agreed. What could be of interest to a new generation of young listeners would be what he called "algorithmically-driven segments" -- think content delivered based on that listener's preferences.

TuneIn Programming Senior Manager Scott Fleischer said it's as simple as understanding the content priorities of our hypothetical 22 year-old; restated simply by UK Radioplayer Managing Director Michael Hill as "fish where the fish are."

Hill and Kempf concluded (and often agreed while at it) by passing along some programming wisdom. On the perennial issue of understaffing at programming departments, Hill make an unconventional point: "Radio has always been, and we should keep it, a 'lightweight' medium," he said. There's a danger in "becoming the incumbent" -- that is, slow and inflexible and stifling innovation. "Keep on the lookout for disruptors" on your staff, he suggested, "those willing to experiment." He and Kempf agreed that partnering outside your department (or company, even) can help lighten the load.

"Yes," continued Kempf, "experiment, keep development lightweight," and makes sure and test and assess what's working and what's not as often as possible. "Measure, measure, measure."

But how do you finance all that experimentation? How do you get the best ROI when you come upon something that does work?

"Stop underselling your digital assets," Hill stressed. "Put a good, solid price-tag on them." Kempf added, "Be patient." The transition to digital will happen, "the audience is going to be there, the revenue will follow."

Please listen to the entire "Innovating Online Content" panel via SoundCloud below, and watch for more coverage from RAIN Summit Dallas this week.

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