Industry mulls the wisdom of combined "over the air" and "streaming" audience measurement

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 1:10pm

Radio consultant Fred Jacobs (right) today is calling for radio to "fully embrace the streaming platform," as his (and others') data show more and more regular radio listeners are tuning in online and on mobile phones. He's stressing the need to "accurately measure AM/FM streaming, merge it with usage data from broadcast radio in a format that is acceptable to agencies and buyers, and then monetize these bigger numbers."

Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino, however, thinks radio should pursue growing digital ad budgets by keeping online audience separate from AM/FM listening.

In the second installment of his "Simulcasting Debunked" blog series (we covered the first part yesterday here), Agovino (left) says he understands why broadcasters might want to consolidate audience numbers so existing staff can sell "total audience" and reduce costs. But while digital audience lacks in size compared to on-air, digital can deliver targeted ads to an audience that can be precisely measured.

"In all likelihood, 95%+ of the combined broadcast and digital audience number is generated from the broadcast estimate alone," Agovino wrote. "As a result, the combined number offers none of the benefits of digital. It is, in essence, a dumb number." Note that Agovino's company is a vendor of digital ad delivery and metrics services to the broadcast industry.

But Jacobs is asking, "What about strong radio brands that attract digital listening, but lose out on the "credit" (that is, advertising dollars) for it, because it's not counted as part of a station's audience?" 

Now it isn't necessary that Jacobs' and Agovino's positions can't be reconciled. Panelists on the RAIN Summit Orlando "The Ad-Insertion Panel" (including Agovino) will surely have some thoughts on the matter. Get more info and register for RAIN Summit Orlando here. Read Fred Jacobs' blog here; Agovino's here.

Triton COO Agovino sets out to "debunk" the wisdom behind online simulcasting

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 2:15pm

Introducing a five-part series today on his company's website, Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino has set out to "debunk" the advantages broadcasters hope to gain by simulcasting online.

In this application, online simulcasting means streaming exactly the same content online, at the same time, that's broadcast on the air. Most importantly, it means the same ads run online that are on the AM/FM signal, and not replaced with (potentially-) targeted, online only commercials.

"Up until now, (broadcasters' online ad inventory) has been very difficult to sell locally, and national/aggregation plays have failed to deliver real value back to the broadcaster," Agovino (pictured) concedes.

But instead of innovating and trying to remedy the challenges of selling digital locally, "broadcasters are in retreat," he says.

Triton Digital is a leading vendor of ad-insertion technologies to the radio and webcasting inudstries. You can read Part 1 of Agovino's "Simulcasting Debunked" here.

Agovino will make his case on "The Ad Insertion Panel" discussion at RAIN Summit Orlando on September 17. RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson will moderate the panel, which will also feature Saga Communications EVP Steve Goldstein, Greater Media Interactive's Tom Bender, Adswizz CEO Alexis van der Wyer, and OMD's Natalie Swed Stone (read more about "The Ad Insertion Panel" here). Full details and registration for RAIN Summit Orlando is available here.

Starting next year, stations will need to be Arbitron customers to combine on-air, online listening ratings

Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 10:40am

Arbitron says it will discontinue "Total Line Reporting" for broadcasters that don't subscribe to its ratings service -- likely as a way "to woo back non-subscribers that benefit from TLR," suggests Inside Radio (here).

Total Line Reporting enables stations to combine their online simulcast listening with over-the-air listening for ratings purposes. Now, starting with the winter 2014 book in diary markets and the January 2014 report in PPM markets, non-subscribers will be reported as individual stations only. Ad buyers will not see combined ratings for simulcasts of non-subscribing stations, beginning next year.

As we reported here, Arbitron recently changed the requirements for what's considered a "simulcast," requiring stations to stream 100% identical content (programming and ads) only in their home Metro and DMA. The new policy allows the station to stream any content it likes outside its home Metro/DMA.

RAIN Summit Orlando will feature a discussion panel dedicated to ad-insertion and broadcast radio online simulcasts on September 17. We have more detail on that panel here.

Saga's Goldstein, Triton's Agovino join RAIN Summit panel to address ad-insertion

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 11:30am

RAIN Summits has announced the roster of professionals who'll discuss ad insertion at September 17th's RAIN Summit Orlando. [Pro tip: The $99 "early bird" registration expires July 31. Register to attend (here) soon!]

Ad-insertion -- substituting online-only ads in a stream of broadcast programming -- is perhaps more controversial than ever. While ad-insertion allows stations to sell online-only ad inventory and monetize streaming audiences on top of broadcast listening, until recently Arbitron (RAIN coverage here) didn't include online listening in "total line reporting" for stations that streamed ads that weren't also broadcast. Last year broadcasters like Saga Communications (in RAIN here  and here) and Hubbard's WTOP (here) announced moves to eliminate ad-insertion in favor of full simulcast streaming.

To explain his company's position, Saga Communications EVP Steve Goldstein (pictured) will participate on the panel. He's been part of Saga management since 1986. Saga owns 88 radio stations in 23 markets.

Another broadcaster joining the panel is Greater Media Interactive SVP/GM Tom Bender. Named Regional GM of Greater Media's Detroit-based operation in 1986, in 2007 Tom moved to the new media side to lead interactive efforts company-wide. Just last month Greater Media chairman/CEO Peter Smyth restated his company's strong support for both streaming and online ad-insertion here.

Not surprisingly, Smyth and Greater Media find fans among ad sales professionals and technology providers. Adswizz CEO Alexis van der Wyer and Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino both represent companies that provide audience measurement, sales, and ad-serving tools to broadcasters and webcasters. Van der Wyer and Agovino will both return to the RAIN Summit stage to address ad-insertion's sales and technology issues.

Finally, representing the ad buying community, Natalie Swed Stone is U.S. Director of National Radio at OMD. She manages national radio investments for OMD clients like JCPenney, Lowe’s, State Farm, Visa, Wells Fargo, McDonald’s, Clorox, PepsiCo, and H&R Block. Swed Stone (pictured) provides strategic counsel within all of OMD on effective use of the radio medium, including Internet, satellite, and mobile platforms.

RAIN Summit Orlando will also feature a keynote presentation from Entercom Communications president/CEO David Field, panel discussions and presentations from some of the industry's most creative and innovative professionals, and the presentation of the fourth-annual RAIN Internet Radio Awards. RAIN Summit Orlando is an Official Partner Event of The Radio Show produced by the NAB and RAB. See the latest here.

Under new Arbitron policy, station TLR streams need only be 100% simulcasts in home Metro/DMA

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 12:50pm

Arbitron alerted its clients today that, at the request of the radio advisory council, it is eliminating the "simulcast" requirement for streaming outside a station's home Metro and DMA for those stations that include streaming audience in "total line reporting" (TLR).

The new rule says a station need only stream a 100% simulcast (all content, including commercials) in its home Metro and DMA. The new policy allows the station to stream any content it likes outside its home Metro/DMA.

Previously, Arbitron required stations that wanted to include streaming listeners in TLR audience to stream exactly what went out over the air, including local advertising. This meant a potential waste of ad inventory that could have been used more effectively. A listener three states away would hear the same ad for Pete's Pizza on 10th and Main a local listener heard.

Beginning last month Arbitron began allowing stations to substitute ads to streaming listeners outside a station's metro, but only with ads from the same advertiser, and still be eligible for TLR (see RAIN here). While this may have worked for national advertisers, it usually didn't help stations still airing ads that only made sense for local listeners.

This news will likely change the dynamic of the debate amongst broadcasters whether to simulcast streams, or take advantage of ad-insertion technology to increase ad inventory (or, for that matter, whether to stream at all).

Arbitron's new rule goes into effect with the July PPM period and Summer diary survey.

Arbitron reportedly to relax rules for online "simulcast" streams

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 11:50am

Arbitron will reportedly relax some of its terms under which a broadcaster's online stream can be considered a "simulcast."

Until now, Arbitron would consider a station's stream a "simulcast" only if it were 100% identical to the on-air broadcast -- content, ads, everything needed to be the same (and aired at the same time) on the stream as was aired on AM or FM. This means a station stream that substitutes on-air commercials with "online-only" ads, public service messages, promos, or other content, in the stream is not a "simulcast" -- and thus its streaming audience cannot be combined with its on-air audience for ratings purposes.

Beginning in May, the ratings company will allow a "simulcast" broadcast to substitute ads to streaming listeners outside the station's metro area with different ads from the same advertiser. All other content outside of commercials must remain 100% identical.

This change allows stations to "fulfill an advertiser's request that locally advertised specials not be heard outside the local market yet still qualify to receive Total Line Reporting," Inside Radio reports today. Radio can add its digital listening towards its total audience numbers, as well as sell combined on-air/online ad campaigns even for advertisers who want to restrict specific messaging to within the metro.

Inside Radio writes that some broadcasters say McDonald's and Subway directed stations to remove certain spots from their streams for this very reason.

Paragon consultant Mike Henry wrote of many mid- and smaller-sized broadcasters moving towards fully-simulcasting (that is, not changing ads for streaming) because of its inherent advantages. He blogged, "This shift is interesting because it pits the streaming strategy of major groups such as CBS and Clear Channel in one camp, and the mid-sized and smaller groups in another camp. The majors are apparently betting on a streaming sales future, while the other groups are retrenching behind towers and their broadcast sales."

Read more in today's Inside Radio (subscribe here) and from Paragon here.

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