research

USA TouchPoints survey indicates AM/FM’s time-spent

Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 1:05pm

Inside Radio reported new diary-based research indicating that AM/FM radio occupies at least two-thirds of audio minutes heard across generational divides. The study is branded by USA TouchPoints, a metered-behavior service launched in 2011 under the wing of the Media Behavior Institute (MBI).

The USA TouchPoints study could be framed as a counterpoint to the recently released Edison Research package, “The New MainStream.” The Edison survey focused on reach, revealing a data set in which 53 percent of online Americans listen to Internet radio to some extent. The USA TouchPoints focus is time spent, making two main assertions. First, that AM/FM represents about two-thirds of consumed audio minutes, while “Music Streaming Service” receives five to six percent of listening minutes. Second, that AM/FM occupies 23 percent of user engagement with all measured mediums. (The Internet as a whole got 18 percent, and television 57 percent.)

USA TouchPoints owns, or owned, mobile diary software derived in 2010 from the IPA TouchPoint study in the U.K. The measuring mandate extends beyond radio to the media landscape generally, intending to track consumer engagement with TV, radio, Internet, magazines and newspapers. USA TouchPoint’s original user panel was sized at 1,000 testers, each using an iPhone diary app. User effort was considerable, requiring each panelist to track location, social setting, and life activity along with specific media consumption, an average of 15 times a day for at least seven days, according to this documentation.

NOTE: According to the Media Behavior Institute’s website, the MBI discontinued operation in July of this year, with USA TouchPoints to follow. A brief notice states: “Unfortunately, the Media Behavior Institute will cease operations on July 31, 2013. Despite a growing client list, industry adoption of USA TouchPoints has not been sufficient and as a result, plans are underway to wind down the company.” Phone queries from RAIN have not been returned.

 

The key findings of this study comport pretty closely with what others have found — e.g., the split of consumers' music/audio listening time is about 80% radio (all forms) and 20% personal music collections, TV gets about twice as much usage as radio, and so forth.

Internet radio's share of total radio listening in this study seems to be 7.5% — i.e, 6% of radio's 80% of audio usage. This seems a bit lower than other studies suggest — especially among younger demos — which could be for one of two reasons:

(1) The iPhone-based diary was apparently hierarchical: When reporting what one was doing at the moment, it seems that first one had to pick "Radio" or "Internet Entertainment," then one picked either a radio format (e.g., country) or an streaming provider. It's possible that young people who consider Pandora, for example, to be "radio" would have gone down the former path, and if so their listening could have been counted in the wrong bucket.

(2) In both today's "Inside Radio" story and the firm's 22-page PDF that describes its methodology, we couldn't find the date the study was conducted. If the survey tracking was conducted more than a year ago, then the numbers would seem to be about right. --KH

INTERVIEW: Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research

Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 11:55am

Larry Rosin authored a new Edison Research package titled “The New MainStream,” a study of Internet radio listening. (See the slides here, and RAIN's initial coverage here.) The survey was presented at this week’s Advertising Week conference in New York, in collaboration with the Streaming Audio Task Force.

RAIN spoke with Larry Rosin about the study’s genesis and reception, the impact of Internet radio on AM/FM listening, the variety of user preferences, and, unexpectedly, 1970s research that led to the introduction of cable television in the U.K.

Here are excerpts of the conversation, lightly edited for readability.

RAIN: Can you describe the history of this study?

LR: I was contacted by the three companies on the Streaming Audio Task Force, looking for a data set dedicated to the topic of streaming audio, to create a benchmark for where things stand among the online population of the U.S. Ideally it will be repeated annually, to track the dynamic aspects of this space.

RAIN: How was it received at its introduction at Advertising Week in New York? Was there was good engagement?

LR: Very much so. Questions during and afterwards. I thought it went over really well. I think it was a logical story that hit people’s guts, made sense, and was a positive and upbeat story. I emphasized that audio is a booming category. I don’t think it had ever been put the way I put it, perhaps as forcefully. People seemed to be very open to that point of view.

RAIN: Did you discern any surprise around the 53-percent metric? [53 percent of online Americans listen to Internet radio.]

LR: Not really. I didn’t meet any resistance, and it didn’t seem to register as much higher than the audience thought it would be. I didn’t do the game-show technique of asking people to guess what the number might be.

RAIN: One key point is the amount of displacement of broadcast listening that it might represent, and the amount of listening that has been added to the day, thanks to mobile devices.

LR: There are certain people who would have you believe that not one second of online usage comes from time that was previously spent on broadcast radio. And there are people who assume that 100% of internet radio time comes straight out of broadcast radio. Of course, both are wrong. It turns out, both about equally wrong. I think it’s important to note that our study confirms what Arbitron reports about the reach of broadcast. We got virtually the exact same number that Arbitron reports for the reach of broadcast radio. But online radio has a considerable reach as well. And while the total time spent listening to broadcast radio is clearly down somewhat, not anywhere close to all the time [spent on] internet radio comes straight from AM/FM radio.

The overwhelming point is: this technology has brought audio to new places, new locations, and new times in people’s lives that they weren’t previously filling in with audio. This is a golden age of audio. If all audio were counted, people would see that never before -- probably even going back to the twenties and thirties when radio had no competition -- there is more audio listening going on today than ever before.

RAIN: Would you say there are two viewpoints, and two marketing approaches: One is reach, and the other is time spent? Things look different depending on which vantage you’re using.

LR: Correct. But it’s not a wholesale transference. The pie has absolutely expanded. I truly believe that advertisers should be shifting more money into the audio space. Then let the players in the audio space hash it out in that greater pool of money. The line which has been used for years, that the amount of time people spend with audio relative to the amount of revenue audio gets, is dead on. In fact, that discrepancy is probably worse than ever, as audio continues to expand. I am proud to be an evangelist for advertisers taking money from other verticals and putting more of it into the audio space.

RAIN: It seems that choice is a thread that runs through many of the survey responses. Choice of stations, choice of tracks, etc. Are choice and customization the main differentiators of Internet radio?

LR: They are slightly different things, but yes. They are two of the things that really matter to people. But there are other [reasons to choose Internet radio] that people might find surprising. A lot of people mentioned better sound quality, or reception, if you will. A lot of people are transferring listening to their favorite over-the-air radio station to I.P. because they can hear it better. In this day and age, with a lot of RF in office buildings, a lot of interference, for many people the Internet is a better way to listen.

Another reason [survey respondents choose Internet radio], in services like Pandora and Spotify, is the ability to skip songs, [which is] a powerful differentiator of their experience. It repositions the experience of linear listening. It changes the way you relate to what you’re listening to. It’s not unlike a DVR. If you’re accustomed to pausing live TV, and then you’re in a hotel room and you lose that capability, it can be frustrating to shift back. It’s a similar situation [in radio listening]; it’s hard to shift back.

RAIN: What you’re saying is parallel to how media consumption has been developing for years, getting more granular in the choices offered to consumers.

LR: I’ll tell you an anecdote. In the late-1970s or early-1980s, a research company did a study in the U.K. about television, and whether there would be a market for cable television in the U.K. At that time television sets in Great Britain had four buttons on them. There were four television stations. That’s how you watched it. They did a survey. People’s overwhelming response was, “What more could we possibly want? We’ve got FOUR choices at any given time!” People’s imaginations couldn’t conceive of wanting more than four channels. Undaunted by this research, and seeing what was going on in the U.S., they launched cable television in the U.K. Suddenly, people were like, “Oh, wait a second here. There’s a 24-hour news channel?”

Very few people are against more choice. [But] there is a paradox of choice. Too many choices [can be] stressful and overwhelming. Seems like, in media, very few people feel that way.

RAIN: TV in America used to be four channels: ABC, CBS, NBC, and public television.

LR: Oh yeah.

RAIN: There are different postures of Internet listening: lean forward, lean back, and various postures in between. Your data seem to show that an in-between attitude -- for example, leaning forward to create an artist-based station, then leaning back to listen -- has the highest usage metric. Is that correct?

LR: Right. But there’s a lot that goes into that. Certain platforms and products have had a nice running start, and have developed that. It’s fascinating to track. Your thesis could very well be correct. Or, it could just be a moment in time, and those numbers might change.

Edison Research: Streaming hits the MainStream

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 11:40am

Edison Research has released a new study of streaming audio adoption, indicating that over half of the American online population listens to Internet radio. The research package, titled “The New MainStream” (get it?) details survey results of 3,014 connected Americans over 11 years old. The report was formally introduced yesterday at an Advertising Week panel in New York by Edison president Larry Rosin, in collaboration with Edison’s Streaming Audio Task Force partners Pandora (Steven Kritzman), Spotify (Brian Benedik), and TuneIn (Rick Cotton).

The headline stat is this: 53 percent of online Americans listen to Internet radio to some extent. By this study’s definition, “Internet radio” comprises the full spectrum of online listening, divided into three categories:

  • Personalized Radio: Services like Pandora or iTunes Radio which allow creation of personal “stations” based on an artist or song. (39 percent adoption.)
  • Streaming Live: Online webcasts of broadcast stations, not necessarily local to the listener. (27 percent adoption.)
  • On-Demand Music: Services like Spotify and Rhapsody which feature random access of tracks and albums. (18 percent adoption.)

Edison’s survey delineates and prioritizes why people are adopting Internet radio. Choice is the differentiating thread that runs through many responses. Consumer hunger for choice extends to track choice in on-demand services, and station choice in streaming broadcasts. Other responses, such as “Available on device” (44 percent agreement) and “More convenient than a regular radio,” (27 percent agreement) seem pointed at lifestyle customization.

Car and home remain staunch broadcast strongholds, according to Edison results. In both environments, Internet radio is meaningfully present, but running second. The disparity in cars (83% broadcast; 17% Internet) probably indicates the complexity and non-standardization which impede adoption of online audio -- a recurring theme in “connected car” sessions at last week’s RAIN Summit and Radio Show in Orlando. The delay in solving dashboard fragmentation gives broadcast radio a window of opportunity to develop distribution strategies on digital platforms.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the research is an implied expansion of listening hours as IP-delivered solutions insert themselves into formerly unoccupied contexts. From the press release: “The total time spent with audio is clearly expanding as people are now enjoying more audio from more devices in more places.” To whatever extent this premise proves out, it could provide a salve to AM/FM operators who feel threatened by the digital tidal wave.

Yet, the study’s main bullet points (see this infographic) do indicate that the shape of listening growth, and listening recession, imply upside for the Internet and downside for broadcast. Sixty-seven percent of respondents listen to more Internet radio than one year previous, but only 23 percent say the same about AM/FM. On the flip side, only six percent listen to less Internet, and three times that many listen to less AM/FM. (More than half of those surveyed listen to the same amount of broadcast radio year-over-year.)

The “listening expansion” theory is borne out by 26 percent of responses indicating that Internet radio listening transpires in “new time” previously spent without audio. Worth noting also, though, that 44 percent said that online audio replaced AM/FM listening to some extent. The upshot seems to include both realities: New listening time is being created, and some amount of AM/FM erosion is also happening.

Edison research shows at-work radio listeners migrating to Internet-only alternatives

Friday, September 20, 2013 - 9:10am

We previously mentioned Edison Research's "What's Working at Work" study of radio and audio in the workplace. Edision president Larry Rosin presented the study at the Radio Show today in Orlando. The team last took a look at how employees listen in 1997. Probably needless to say, but Internet radio plays a far more significant role 16 years later.

First, a third of the respondents said they listen to Internet radio at work. Almost three-quarters listen on a desktop or laptop computer, but more than half listen on a smartphone (obviously, some use both).

While more people still listen to AM/FM radio at work than Net-only radio, the total number of at-work broadcast listeners is apparently dropping as (some) migrate to online-only options. Half of at-work Internet radio listeners say their listening has replaced time they used to spend listening to broadcast radio (28% say it's replaced time spent with their own music collection, and 22% of Internet radio listeners say it's "new listening").

High spot loads (and competition from Net radio's traditionally lower commercial load) is likely playing a role in that migration from broadcast to Net-only radio, says Edison. Rosin commented, "New options that consumers have for audio have completely changed the notion of what constitutes an acceptable number of commercials."

See slides and respondent interview videos from the "What's Working at Work" presentation here.

FastCo Labs article reveals how Pandora continuously experiments and tweaks programming

Friday, August 16, 2013 - 12:15pm

Fast Company Labs has a fascinating article that reveals the extent to which Pandora experiments and researches how its audience reacts to different variables in the way it creates its playlists -- with the aim of increasing the rate at which users return to the service.

[By the way, if this sort of thing interests you, please our coverage of Rhapsody VP of product-content Jon Maples' on the importance of music curation here.]

We really want to encourage you to read the entire piece, but we've pulled out some bits we found particularly fascinating.

According to the article, by John Paul Titlow, Pandora's data scientists regularly divide and subdivide its audience into test groups, then continually tweak how music is delivered to listeners. For instance, they might vary how often songs are repeated, or the ratio of very familiar tunes to new music. Perhaps they'll vary the concentration of artists that are "local" to a listener, or how many "live" or "acoustic" versions of songs a listeners hears. They even monitor how listeners react to music given their geographical location, or the time of day.

Pandora has run thousands of these tests over the years, some months-long, some taking just a few weeks. And they've apparently resulted in some very interesting insights. For example, the webcaster has found that listeners are less tolerant of unfamiliar music while they're at work. So the webcaster has adjusted for this, and now your personal Pandora channel may seem more familiar between 9 and 5, and a little edgier at night or on the weekend.

Or, fans of instrumental music (like most Classical and Jazz) are generally more receptive to new music discovery -- fans of vocal pop music, the opposite. Titlow writes, "The distinction is so pronounced that stations based on instrumental hip-hop will yield more serendipitous moments of discovery than those based on lyric-heavy rap tracks."

Pandora has even tracked how the same listeners may interact with the music differently based on which type of device they're using at the time -- on the web, or a mobile phone, or a Blu-ray player in a home theater.

While much has been made about the origins of Pandora's Music Genome Project -- hundreds of trained music expers dissecting each track and scoring it on dozens of characterists -- it's user data (skips, "thumbs up/down," etc.) that are training the system now. In fact, Pandora listeners create data far faster than its staff of human experts can. And to be able to more quickly ingest new music, Pandora has developed its own "machine listening technology." It merges the computer analysis of music with input from human experts "to create a deeper understanding of the music its service spins."

The article ends with a short bit about applying this intelligence to the dynamics of group listening, and how new technology could enable that. Again, we'd like to encourage you to check out the article here.

AccuStream says Net radio and subscription services account for $1.22 B in music industry revenue

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 12:30pm

New AccuStream Research data on Internet radio and streaming music reveals "a 2013 growth rate of 47.5%, backed by monetization initiatives channeling $1.22 billion into the digital music ecosystem," the company says.

The data is from a new report called "Streaming Radio, Curated Station and Track Play Music: Listening Hours and Revenue Analytics 2013 - 2016." AccuStream says it analyzed "listening by brand, platform, product offering, business model, subscriber count, available inventory by format, CPMs (national and local), sellout rates and corresponding revenue" over multiple years.

Ad-supported streaming, the company projects, will account for nearly 62% of the sector's revenue this year. About half will come from in-stream audio ad paired with a display component. AccuStream also predicts total listening hours for ad-supported sterams will grow almost 80% this year to 28.6 billion.

As of press time, the study was not yet available on AccuStream's website.

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