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An Indie Artist Pipeline to Internet Radio
Thursday, April 11, 2013
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Deliver Data, Not Audience

On March 26 Audio Graphics ran this headline: "Online, Are You in the Radio Industry?" It was a discussion of how advertising has changed with the internet, by way of explaining how the radio industry - online and off - hasn't accepted the change.

Let me give you a little demonstration. Appearing online in this morning's Clear Channel-owned Inside Radio was this sentence: "Stakeholders see a land grab for real estate in the connected car." With the broadcast radio industry coming back from its get-together at NAB, this appears to be a topic du jour. It's humorous and telling because if dashboard relevancy is a topic today, then you know radio waited far too long to take action on something it should have discussed in 2004.
"Operating an online station, audio platform, music delivery system, whatever you care to call it will only be profitable by reaching into your data at hand. Crunching numbers and giving the advertiser a report is becoming more common.

This is how advertising has changed, and shows how anyone operating radio online needs to adjust."

Where laughter turns to sympathy, though, is realizing that what is being discussed by the radio industry is how to maintain a place on the dashboard. We even have this wonderful example of coming late to another party. A comment concerning the simplistic display of RDS, which is still not mastered by broadcasters. "No text at all on the touch-screen is like dead air...." Again, a 2004 problem being visited today. It's as if terrestrial executives believe the world is going to slow so radio can catch up.

Here's a light bulb moment for every person operating a radio station online or off: All other online advertising vehicles are escalating the value of data. It was a point I tried to drive home in that March 26 article with this: "If your 'station' is online and you follow the traditional form of playing songs and audio commercials with no accountability drawn from the data at hand, then it is simply old style radio that's online." (Some folks requested a deeper dive into this statement. So let's do that now.)

Let the broadcasters worry about whether they'll remain relevant on the dashboard. What you, as an internet radio station owner, need to concentrate on is how to mine the data at hand so you can give advertisers a detailed report of how their campaign has performed.

We all know last year's buzzword of "ROI" (Return on Investment). With few exceptions every online radio station and audio platform ignored ROI's calling, choosing to sell ads based on a Cost per Thousand (CPM) pricing. That was/is a mistake.

Data at hand are the numbers you pull from logs and analytics programs, which allow math to be used in assessing performance.

"X" number in the audience exposed to "Y" number of commercials produced "Z" visits to a landing page.

Number of conversions on that landing page divided by the visits delivers your conversion rate. Online, a "conversion" may be a sale, a newsletter signup, a product registration or request for more information - it's called a "Key Performance Indicator" (KPI), and it is the basis for determining campaign effectiveness.

Because KPIs can be one of many things - each chosen for a particular campaign - you have tremendous flexibility in handing the advertiser proof of performance in an online environment.

Data differentiates internet audio platforms from old-style broadcast impression pricing, especially when all those terrestrial stations refuse to be held accountable, even on their stream. (Targetspot is the most aggressive in introducing use of data, with Triton Digital only recently joining. However, acceptance by stations is nearly nonexistent.)

To the broadcast radio industry the fight for the dashboard is its most important battle, even if it's ten years too late to join. This delay is not without precedence. It was only a few years ago that it was decided broadcasters needed a place on smartphones. How's that going for them? Poorly.

Operating an online station, audio platform, music delivery system, whatever you care to call it will only be profitable by reaching into your data at hand. Crunching numbers and giving the advertiser a report is becoming more common.

This is how advertising has changed, and shows how anyone operating radio online needs to adjust.

Try this short quote from a March 5, 2013 Audio Graphics article: "View these three pictures of New York City (click each to expand). They represent the transition from horse and buggy to automobile, a time when blacksmiths and buggy whip manufacturers failed to adjust. This is what the broadcast radio industry is facing today. A difference is that radio continues to push out words that it's maintaining the relevancy of days gone by, a strategy tried by Kodak with film cameras.




"Internet radio should not fear the claimed reach of broadcast radio, as it is similar to the situation depicted of horses and buggies in the 1910 New York City photo above."

To still be delivering an ad schedule based on impressions is akin to churning butter in the kitchen, or using a buggy whip on your car.

Let broadcasters worry about RDS display and getting onto smartphones. That kind of thinking will only continue to keep the terrestrial radio industry out of the hunt, and give you more room to gather data for advertisers who want proof of ROI.

While the broadcast side of radio has a near lockout on indie artists, introducing music is open wide to internet stations.
A Country artist to consider:
Andy and the Rockers

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Andy and the Rockers

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We listen for songs that evoke emotion; fast, slow, female, male, group, it doesn't matter. When an artist has the power to please, they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Andy and the Rockers's "Down Home Kentucky" a listen.

Add it to your playlist, free! Such is the new world of music distribution.

The radio industry had its shot. It's time internet radio programmers take a chance and reach into a huge pile of talent. It is there that new hit songs will increasingly be found.

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