RAIN Summit West

JacAPPS' Jacobs, Securenet execs share what they learned at RAIN Summit West

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 3:20pm

We've covered a good portion of the content from the recent RAIN Summit West event (last Monday here and Wednesday here), and we'll continue to do so in the coming days. We were also happy to see coverage from some of our colleagues in the press (we rounded those up here).

We wanted to share with you some more of the perspective from Summit attendees and participants today. First, jacAPPS president Paul Jacobs, who was part of our "Dashboard Discussion," offers five "takeaways" on what he heard here.

First, Jacobs feels good about radio's efforts to evolve its content to digital (and "When we release the results of Techsurvey9 in two weeks, there will be even clearer evidence that this digital shift is taking place," he adds). Relatedly, he points out that a huge issue at the Summit (and the NAB, see Gordon Smith's speech, covered in brief here) is what role broadcast radio can play in the digital car dashboard.

Another Summit "takeaway" for Jacobs is that we're no longer in the "radio" business (if you think of "radio" as a device or platform). "Radio needs to shift our emphasis to a comprehensive sales approach that provides multi-platform, creative solutions for advertisers, because that’s where the dollars are going," he wrote. If the content is truly multi-platform and comprehensive, the sales effort needs to be too. Unfortunately, he felt the surge in creative thinking and entrepreneurship of new technologies and services, as we hunt for "the next big thing," is generating confusion, "the hazards of an innovative time," he suggests.

His final point (and one we've heard for years): the tech, the delivery, the bells and whistles are a sideshow. You will not win without great content.

Please also see Securenet's recap of RAIN Summit in RadioStreamingNews.com here. Securenet is an international radio streaming and hosting services provider, and company VPs Diego Baeza and Jarrod Mains attended the Summit.

Like Jacobs, they noted the emphasis put on in-dash access to digital audio content. Baeza came away confident that streaming's ad sales efforts were headed in the right direction. "Advertiser budgets are only increasing, so it's important to utilize your online stream as a revenue generating tool," he said.

For Mains, he mentioned "mobile" as a topic that kept coming up in discussions, and just how indispensible mobile phones are to consumers. He also added, "I found the 'International Trends in Online Audio' panel especially interesting as we do not hear what is going on overseas as much so it was great to see other countries are making strides in the digital landscape as well."

The next RAIN Summit event is RAIN Summit Europe, May 23 in Brussels, Belgium (which we announced here with followup yesterday here). See our confirmed speakers and register here.

Farber at RAIN Summit: Set your sights on other media to grow radio's digital share

Monday, April 8, 2013 - 1:00pm

RAB CEO/president Erica Farber's message at RAIN Summit West on Sunday: "The only way we can increase radio's share is to not take from each other, but from our actual competitors."

Farber gave the first keynote of our Summit event yesterday in Las Vegas.

TV, cable, magazines and newspapers, and pure-play Internet content is radio's real competition, including for local digital ad dollars, she stressed.

The good news, according to Farber, is that radio is in an excellent position going forward to maintain dominance in an ever-more digital world. Broadcasters can look forward to 30 million mobile phones with an active FM chip over the next three years, through an agreement with Sprint, and on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8. This will be just part of the push from broadcasters to "grow the pie" and expand their digital footprint. Radio will continue to innovate ad opportunities and features, Farber explained, with new levels of interactivity for listeners and new ways to reach them for advertisers.

Look for more coverage from RAIN Summit West in the coming days in RAIN.

Summit panel examines the steep challenges the "connected dashboard" brings

Monday, April 8, 2013 - 1:00pm

Delivering Internet audio to the car is hard. Everyone on the "Dashboard Discussions" panel, which led off yesterday's RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, agreed on that.

So far, implementations are all unique and different, and it's expensive to work with carmakers. Entercom Director of Digital Operations Amy Van Hook (top right) explained that's why her company is sticking with aggregations like TuneIn, or Entercom's mobile apps, to connect to cars for now. Chia-Lin Simmons, Aha by Harman VP/Marketing & Content, said it can cost a million dollars to get integrated into the car "head unit." Moderator Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics verified that automakers make hard to "scale" integrations.

But it's incredibly important to be in the car. Broadcasters can't walk away from this vital listening "theater," and newer audio sources need that audience to grow. jacAPPS president Paul Jacobs reminded the crowd that the car is both radio's number-one listening location, and carmakers are radio's number-one client.

Simmons said we're living in a world now where customers expect their content to be delivered everywhere (and introduced the concept of "round tripping," where a listener can bookmark a place in their listening in the cloud, and pick it up where they left off once they're in the car).

"The DVR has changed consumers' expectations," agreed Van Hook. She also reminded the crowd that radio's dominance in the car won't be a given.

Of course, safety is a top priority. TuneIn's VP of Business Development Carl Rohling (lower right) explained his company's "car mode" interface, which simplifies and limits the controls to only the most basic (like "favorites"). But Panasonic Executive Director/Product Planning & Innovation added some historical perspective: in the 1930s, authorities were afraid audio entertainment in the car (that could travel at speeds of 40 mph!) might be a dangerous distraction. He predicted many of the safety concerns of Internet-enabled cars will be addressed by very exciting -- and somewhat futuristic -- advances in dashboard displays in just a few years.

So what are the strategies? Simmons' company is trying to bring the interactivity we've learned to expect from the desktop and mobile, in a safe way into the vehicle. The data her company collects can help content providers like webcasters better program, and better target ads. Rohling's TuneIn is also working at ways to help broadcasters monetize streams outside their local market.

But it's still that "local imperative," Jacbos said, "that makes radio important."

Look for more coverage from RAIN Summit West 2013 later today and in the coming days.

RAIN Summit brings in experts to discuss revenue models and royalty matters

Friday, February 15, 2013 - 12:05pm

We're happy to announce Triton Digital's Dominick Milano and leading webcasting legal authority David Oxenford as speakers at RAIN Summit West this April.

Milano's company, Triton Digital, is a digital services provider for broadcast and Internet radio. Its products include in-stream ad services Streaming Console and Station Console, and audience measurement service Webcast Metrics. Triton recently announced the launch of its targeted audio ad exchange solution a2x (here), and its partnership to launch "programmatic audience buying product" Xaxis Radio (more here).

Milano, a Triton partner since its inception, was recently named (in RAIN here) President of Publisher Development when the company realigned its executive structure. All publisher-facing activity is now managed centrally by Milano, who's spent the last five years evangelizing for, and helping clients with, local media's digital transformation.

Milano (right) will speak on the panel "Jump Start Your Revenue," an examination of the wide array of revenue strategies, from subscriptions and donations to ad networks, ad exchanges, and affiliate programs.

Washington, D.C.-based partner with Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer LLP David Oxenford is Internet radio's leading authority on issues related to performance royalties, the Copyright Royalty Board, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. An esteemed veteran of our RAIN Summit events, Oxenford (left) represents broadcast and digital media companies, including a number of Internet radio companies, before the Copyright Office, the CRB, and other government agencies. He advises on music royalty issues as well as other general business and regulatory matters.

Recently, Oxenford wrote about real marketplace royalty settlements (involving both SiriusXM Radio here and broadcasters like Clear Channel and Entercom here) and the potential impact on CRB-determined industry Internet radio royalties. Oxenford will lead the panel "The Song Plays On," and discuss the ongoing royalties matter, taking into account both musicians' and webcasters' points of view.

RAIN Summit West is Sunday, April 7 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). Register today (then you can get a jump-start on your travel plans!) via the RAIN Summit West page.

Slacker, Echo Nest, iHeartRadio, Rovi execs debate role of "human touch," listener data during "Personalizable Radio" panel

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 11:00am

Personalizable radio panelCustomizable radio, like the offerings from Slacker, iHeartRadio, Pandora and others, is a "combination of art and science," members of the "Personalizable Radio" panel at RAIN Summit West explained. The discussion was one of the most popular and thought-provoking of the conference.

The "art and science" metaphor was first put forward by Owen Grover, SVP of iHeartRadio. On the one hand, there's the "science": data from companies like The Echo Nest and Rovi about what artists are similar to other artists, what vocalists sound the same, what guitar solos are related and so on. 

But then there's the "art" of also taking into account the much more complicated "cultural" factors, explained Rovi Director of Architecture & Innovation Michael Papish. That is, linking artists and songs that don't necessarily relate to one another scientifically, but that are tied together in popular culture. "There's a lot more going on than just saying 'these two songs sound alike, therefore we should play them together.' There's a lot more behind why humans like different types of music," said Papish. 

Both Grover and Slacker CEO Jim Cady spoke to the power of having an emotional connection within the stream as well. "There has to be humans behind it," said Cady. Slacker employs 75 programmers to give their streams that human touch. Otherwise, "there's a missing emotional connection." He says most users want that "lean-back," curated experience (as long as they can "lean-forward" when need be to customize the stream). Grover said Clear Channel has seen their Custom Radio service actually push new listeners to the traditional AM/FM streams (which are all curation and virtually no personalization).

Michael PapishBut Papish (pictured left) challenged the idea of the power of the human touch. "We think there's something magical being done by the DJ song-to-song, but maybe it's all in the listener's head," he said, referencing studies that found that listeners prefer a random assortment of music just as much as a carefully-crafted playlist. "There may not be a way to measure whether a playlist is 'good' or not."

Whether the playlist has a human behind it or not, "The idea of uniformed playlist given a seed artist is unacceptable," argued The Echo Nest's CEO Jim Lucchese. It must be customized to each listener's individual preferences, and the process of discovering what those preferences are may be the next big challenge for personalizable radio services and the engines that fuel them.

Indeed, data about artist similarity can only take you so far, said Grover. "You don't want to start making too big leaps of faith around data," he explained. "A thumbs down on a Lady Gaga song doesn't necessarily tell you much of anything about that song, that listener, or Lady Gaga." Perhaps the sequence of songs wasn't quite right, or the time of day had an impact, or the listener may have just heard the song 50 times already. More information is needed.

"We may have hit the wall in terms of what we can do with either thumbs up/down, or ratings," mused Papish. "We need to figure out new, better ways of actually asking our listeners what they like." That process is still on-going. "We are just getting started identifying the individual listener," said Lucchese. Papish shared that Rovi, for example, is looking for better ways to have the listener explicitly share preferences with music services. One idea is to use gamification elements to make sharing that information more fun and engaging.

Jim Lucchese and Owen GroverAll this shows that the entire realm of personalizable radio is still "in the exceptionally early days," said Lucchese (pictured first on the right, beside Grover). But it's already changing how consumers think about radio, as the panelists explained.

Cady shared the anecdote of driving with several 10-year-old boys who asked him to skip the song currently playing on FM radio. Grover shared his own experience of a 9-year-old asking why he couldn't go back to the beginning of an AC/DC song playing on the radio. "There's a change that's happening," said Cady. Radio is being redefined and the industry "can't hold on to these old conceptions."

But, in Grover's opinion, the idea that these new customizable services will destroy traditional radio is "nonsense." Papish agreed: "We can't lose that one-on-one feeling," that DJ-curated experience. Not everyone wants that kind of experience all the time, but "we can't lose it."

That said, Grover argued, "If you aren't where your listeners are, with the features and content that they expect, you're nowhere... Be where your listeners are."

You can watch the "Personalizable Radio" panel, moderated by Radio-Info's Sean Ross, from RTT News here.

Borrell Associates CEO urges broadcasters to train its sales forces for digital at RAIN Summit West

Friday, May 18, 2012 - 11:00am

Borrell Associates data"I'm kind of pissed off," began Borrell Associates Founder/CEO Gordon Borrell on-stage at RAIN Summit West 2012. He was thinking about "all the things radio could be doing with the Internet," yet are "being squandered."

On the one hand, Borrell explained during his POV ("Point of View") presentation, radio has the "second-largest sales force out there... a local sales force of 80,000." Yet it has the fifth-largest sales force for digital. "Why is that?"

Meanwhile, said Borrell, "advertisers are desperate for a digital education." And they're looking to their traditional sellers for answers and help. Yet "radio hasn't really significantly trained its sales force" for digital opportunities, argued Borrell. And there are plenty of digital opportunities for radio.

He showed that radio listeners are 48% more likely than the average U.S. consumer to use a PC, laptop or mobile device. And exposure to radio boosts brand browsing online by 52%. "We've seen this for 5-6 years now," Borrell said. "Radio does a better job at driving Internet traffic than the Internet itself."

Gordon Borrell

Some station clusters are already taking advantage of these opportunities and making millions on digital advertising, showed Borrell. But, as an industry, radio's digital advertising share is "puny" -- the second-smallest share of U.S. digital ad dollars. That said, radio's digital ad revenues are expected to grow 35% this year.

But Borrell encouraged radio to do more, to follow the example of leading station clusters, to train sales forces to show advertisers what they can do with digital. "Radio sales forces could be the perfect solution," said Borrell, "if they were trained properly."

You can watch Borrell's POV -- and nearly every other presentation and panel from RAIN Summit West 2012 -- from RTT News here.

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