Radio Industry Has Online Numbers; No Plan
Received another of those calls yesterday. "Hello, Ken. I run an online radio station and was wondering if you had any tips to help me get advertisers?"
He continued: "I'm told I have 'xxxx" listeners, but have no real idea of what that means."
We were off to a good start.
"Prepare for an 'ah-ha' moment: Nobody in the radio industry is doing online ad serving and audience measurement correctly."
Actually that start was more normal than good - whether the radio industry
caller comes from broadcaster or pureplay. For years, online, there's been this infatuation with numbers that's accompanied by a befuddlement on how to use them.
We're not going to solve it all, but let's see if we can't shed light on options. Prepare for an "ah-ha" moment: Nobody in the radio industry is doing online ad serving and audience measurement correctly.
Sure, we have reports issued by MRC accredited companies
like Triton Digital, Arbitron, comScore, etc. It's just that this is not where the stumble occurs. What does a radio operator do with the numbers given them, and how many provide a breakout to programmers and clients so each may use the number to better their future action?
Taking action based on metrics and analytics is a myth in the radio industry. We may see an Arbitron subscribing station make adjustments based on reports in the broadcast sector. We can't see a station-by-station comparison within a market, though, because non-subscribing station numbers are not released. The art of counter-programming based on a market's Book doesn't exist anymore.
For internet radio industry operators, the use of server-log or client-side data is primarily an ego feeder or buster. After analyzing the data, little action is taken by the vast majority of online radio stations. Restated: Most stations continue as they always have.
For advertisers, I'm not aware of any radio company that provides advertisers a report outlining mathematical results of an ad campaign, with suggestions on how to improve future campaigns.
We're still living in a CPM sales driven radio world, online and off. Meanwhile, many content providers and ad networks are offering cost-per-action and A/B testing of online campaigns, resulting in increased ROI from fewer highly targeted impressions.
And here's the kicker: These numbers are not only from ad campaigns.
Do you know if time spent on social media is producing results (literally, "know")?
Does your radio station offer ancillary data revenue streams, like accountable
ad-space in station newsletters?
Are you aware how an email list should be built and culled?
Have you tried producing, for a price, surveys for clients to better inform them
of consumer wants?
Is landing page development and copy testing available through your system?
(It's simple and should be.)
Has your sales team targeted a client that sells its service or product online?
If so, is the ad tied to the checkout? If not, why not?
Today's radio industry is comprised of thousands of competitors vying for millions of more ears than any broadcast radio station chased in a given market in all the years preceding the internet. Unless your online station is a top player in the game, my bet is monthly online listener numbers are small, and you'd welcome tips on increasing listeners and revenue.
Start with taking time to understand EXACTLY how your station's numbers are compiled, and what you need to do with them each month. Just reviewing data isn't good enough anymore. Just handing a client the number of impressions reached isn't either.
Having followed the online radio industry for over 15 years, I'm not aware of any company that helps a station past the point of gathering its numbers - a discipline online ad networks have been focusing on. It quickly needs to become a radio industry priority.
We're in this together - the analytics gurus and radio personnel. The caveat is how gurus don't need to know radio programming, while radio executives must understand analytics.
Online, the radio industry must know how to read the numbers and how to construct actions for improvement. That's a plan.
The option is to continue doing what everyone else is doing: reporting how many people were listening when an advertiser's spot is played, selling CPM.
Ignoring our changed advertiser and consumer demands and continuing to have no real idea of what the numbers mean, may still be a plan - but it's a bad one.
Today's indie artist introduction is to...
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 Adero Neely's "My Lovely Breakup Note" a listen
Add it to your playlist, free!
Such is the new world of music distribution.
It's time internet radio programmers reach into a huge pile of untapped talent.
It is here where new hit songs will increasingly be found.