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Friday, July 18, 2014

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Broadcast Radio Has Failed Online

We don't need to wait any longer. It's safe to say that the broadcast radio industry has failed online for a number of reasons. Most have been discussed here multiple times: 1) failure to use metrics and analysis in either the assessment of program quality or ad campaign success; 2) curtailing the "local" portion of programming, where broadcasters are so quick to claim dominance; 3) a distinct "what, me worry?" philosphy exhibited when radio should have been worrying; and 4) letting the online domain name system get so far away as to be non-penetrable.
"There's no sense of value for domain names with the leaders of the radio industry, so how can you expect there by any sense of how to go about creating value with radio online."

Those first three items won't go away anytime soon. The executive suites have been occupied far too long with people who can't see (or won't admit) a shift is occurring. When your core audience is over 54 years old you have a problem. When youth equate broadcast with as many negatives as they have been proven to perceive, that problem is going to get bigger.

Triton Digital released its May 2014 WebCast Metrics the other day. Glance at the 17 broadcasters tracked for month-over-month and year-over-year growth. These are not results anyone trying to build audience online would use to claim progress. Putting ESPN Radio aside (because it's nearly as big online as on-air now), month-to-month Clear Channel increased its total online listening by only 1,461 Average Active Sessions. That's with over 800 stations promoting iHeartRadio and their respective web sites. Cumulus is down by 2,219 AAS; CBS Radio down by 483. Look close: Every one of the major players - sans Clear Channel - is down in AAS, measuring month-to-month.

Click to Enlarge

Year-to-year doesn't have much more to crow about. ESPN leads there, too. Clear Channel is up by 3,721, despite its megaphones pounding consumers with promos to try online streaming. Townsquare Media and Greater Media are both up, but we're talking only 4,054 and 2,442, respectively, over a year. CBS Radio, Cumulus, Entercom, and Univision are all down.

NPR and Beasley were not being measured by Triton Digital a year ago, and it looks like Emmis and Radio One have quit being measured (or, at least, not showing up in the Top 20).

Looking in the far-right column, the numbers representing growth over two years are not impressive; you could go as far as to say they are relatively flat.

But audience is only part of this problem with the radio industry's failure to be competitive online. In the revenue arena, as long as radio continues to sell impressions (CPM) at the expense of a much more effective online revenue stream of cost-per-action, the whole of this industry will continue to waddle in the back of new media enterprise.

The above is a lot to digest, but let me show you the most important evidence as to why the radio industry will continue to mouth words that make insiders feel better, with no chance of actually doing better. Radio missed the domain boat long ago. And it continues refusing to buy radio-related domain-specific URLs that are immensely helpful in growing audience.

June 9th, after explaining Apple Radio owns "" and "," these words appeared here:

"Today,,,,,, and even, the mother of all radio industry names, are still not owned by the radio industry.

"Even the term, owned by Fisher Communications of Seattle Washington, sits idle with no redirect leading to any of Fisher's Seattle radio properties. The only word to describe this relative to the radio industry is 'stupid.'"

Today I went and did a little more research into just how bad radio missed this boat, and would like to present evidence that the radio industry is still confused about the importance of domain names. These 33 radio-related domain names are divided into 4 categories:
1) available
2) 404 (don't exist, but are owned)
3) landing page (where non-radio industry ads are served)
4) active

Of five domains in the last category, four are owned by non-broadcasters, with "" owned by sports talk consultant Rick Scott (though the last entry on its "insight" page was made 4-13-2012, on its blog 3-28-2012).

Let me leave you with one more indication that radio has failed and it won't come back in the online radio wars. I just retired, and will soon introduce my latest non-radio project. In preparation for that golden day, I sent an email to RAB asking if they would be interested in purchasing the following domain names, owned by Audio Graphics:

Quoting the response from a high level person at RAB: "Ken, a question came up before we spend too much time determining possible use. Are you talking tens of dollars or hundreds of dollars for all of them?"

I couldn't stop laughing either.

There's no sense of value for domain names with the leaders of the radio industry, so how can you expect them to have any sense of creating value with radio online?

Now for those domains I researched today. As you go over these names, ask yourself why is it that no radio companies own any of them (except, which Eagle Communications purchased in July 1997 - yet it sits unused as a 404). For definition: "available" means you can buy this today; "404" means this web site not found; "landing page" means this page is being used to serve ads; and "active" means the web site is there.

Domain status Purchase Price/date available $9.95 available $9.95 available $9.95 available $9.95 404 17-nov-1995 404 04-jul-1997 404 16-may-1997 404 31-oct-2000 404 04-nov-1998 landing page 13-sep-2001 landing page 17-jan-2005 landing page 13-sep-2001 landing page 28-jun-1999 landing page 29-sep-2005 landing page 25-feb-1999 landing page purchased 01-mar-1999 landing page purchased 30-aug-2010 landing page purchased 15-jun-1996 landing page purchased 25-apr-1996 landing page purchased 09-jul-2003 landing page purchased 30-aug-2002 landing page purchased 12-sep-1998 landing page purchased 17-aug-2002 landing page purchased 02-sep-1995 landing page purchased 16-jun-2003 landing page purchased 13-sep-2001 landing page purchased 17-feb-1999 active (non-broadcaster) active (non-broadcaster) inactive since 2012 (non-broadcaster) active sells a book about radio active two way radio company

One more item. Around this time last year I received an email about a long list of "dot-fm" names for sale. With a glance at the prices being asked, it was obvious to me that this concept was going nowhere.

The radio industry has failed online because it never quite got away from a "we don't need online to survive" arrogance. Now it's trying to do online on-the-cheap, and that won't work either.

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Today's indie introduction is to...
Pop artist A Fragile Tomorrow
sample song
I Just Never Said Enough

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When an artist has the power to please they should be given a chance to be heard.

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