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Thursday, September 6, 2012
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Defensive Posture Shows Radio Weakness

Somedays, topics drop into my lap. Like this banter about Pandora being down in the just released Triton Digital Webcast Metrics' July ranker.

Yesterday, opening FMQB I found a gem of a quote: "Pandora Listenership Down In Triton's July Digital Rankings." Comments made there are humorous: "... for the second month in a row, Pandora saw its Average Active Streams (AAS) decline..."; and this: "Looking at the All Streams Ranker for the full week, Clear Channel was once again easily #1, with more than twice the AAS of #2 Digitally Imported."

"The drop in internet usage in the summer months is relative to the increase in listening to radio online in this way. Proportionately the drop is much larger." I'll address "decline" in a moment. For now, let's discuss how this radio industry trade - I guess in an attempt to make radio industry personnel feel better: 1) is leading with "Pandora saw its Average Active Streams (AAS) decline."; 2) is comparing Clear Channel with Digitally Imported; and 3) states "The All Streams Ranker for July for the full week (6a-mid) has Clear Channel at #1 once again...."

To answer each:

1) Between May and July, 10 of the top-10 rankers showed audience loss in "Average Active Streams."

2) Clear Channel is a mega-group. Digitally Imported is a small business making its primary imprint on Electronica, Rock, and Jazz music. DI also operates "," though I'm unsure if those numbers are added to DI's total. Note: Digitally Imported is beating every other Triton-ranked operator in the "All Streams" metric because it is a global operator, Know how, and you can calculate Digitally Imported's international audience from the data in Webcast Metrics' report.

3) The "All Streams" measurement in Webcast Metrics is just that, an aggregate of streams to all nations. Clear Channel only streams domestically; 99.26% of its streams are within the US. Pandora is close to that, only recently starting to stream to the Australian market.

It really doesn't matter how you cut it, there is no reason to boast that the "All Streams" Ranker for July for the full week (6a-mid) has Clear Channel at #1 once again...." It is not - and the reason is: Numbers for Pandora are not yet offered in the "All Streams" category, while Clear Channel, incorrectly, is. So, in FMQB's eyes, Clear Channel "was once again easily #1...." But let's put those companies side-by-side, showing Average Active Sessions from the time CC was first listed in the "All Streams" report. The graph looks like this.

Clear Channel is being stomped by Pandora, another much smaller company.

Something else to chew on: Clear Channel's average "Time Spent Listening" (of 34.2 minutes) is near half of Digitally Imported's 66.6 "TSL."

Anyway, as much as I wanted to write about this misguided FMQB reporting, I originally chose not to.

Then I turned to Radio Ink with a headline of "Trying To Make Sense of the Online Listening Numbers." After reading this I decided that something needed to be said which points to the amount of education the radio industry needs before it understands online measurement.

Please read the Radio Ink article. Then hear me out.

Done reading it? OK. First to the question of diminished listeners for summer months. It happens, and I have a decade worth of data to back up that claim. You have two troughs each year, through the summer months and again going through the end-of-year holidays.

But the logic used at Radio Ink throws me. In the author's words: "If people are in their cars driving to see grandma, they can connect to the dash. If they are heading to the beach, they can lay out fully exposed to skin cancer, with buds in ears, listening to Pandora via G3 or G4. No?"


Growth to online listening is in a stage of building. It is not close to peaking. Nor has the digital dashboard become mainstream. That's why there are scores of people, Radio Ink's own Eric Rhoads is one, who are waving the flag saying "this is coming down the road."

The drop in internet usage in the summer months is relative to the increase in listening to radio online in this way. Proportionately the drop is much larger.

An item that I go over many times is how you cannot look at radio industry measurement and equate it with how items are reported for online listening. Looking at a three-month trend is not equitable to a terrestrial "trend" because as few as one online element can dramatically change visits to a web site (or listeners to a stream). There is nothing in the terrestrial world which will affect a station's audience in this manner. An exception for sports radio is if a sports team is in the playoffs. (You are welcome to offer more if I missed any.)

However, get listed in a major radio portal like Windows Media and you'll see an immediate increase of up to a 1,000 visits a day (or more). Do search engine optimization correctly, and hundreds more will crowd you daily. Properly "test" page layout, and you will dramatically increase the Time Spent on your site.

I'll leave on this thought: We have much being written about radio and the internet by people with little knowledge about the internet. This problem is amplified because those reading the words are not equipped to say "this doesn't make sense," so ignorance spreads.

One example of this spread is in another article running at Radio Ink titled "How To Go Viral On FB. Should You?" Anyone who claims knowledge on "how to go viral" does not understand the term "viral." It is not something you "do," it is something that "happens."

We all wish "viral," but nobody that I'm aware of can explain how to "go viral." Yet, radio industry managers suck up writing like this because they don't know what they don't know.

Try this: Go through the latest Triton Digital Webcast Metrics report that Audio Graphics' compiles - it's much deeper than the numbers provided in the Triton release. Also, scan the caveats at the bottom of Webcast Metrics' pages to see what constitutes each line of its listing.

Do some digging on what is the correct way to read an online ratings report, and don't take everything you see written in radio industry trades as truth. The story is nearly always stretched, and many times flat-out wrong.

More often than not, the writing is done to bolster the radio industry in the eyes of its personnel. The problem with this approach is that it holds people back from understanding just how much they still need to learn.

You'll find dozens of charts, outlining the position of each company within the report's top webcasters by downloading Audio Graphics' Free Breakout.

Go here to download your free Audio Graphics analysis of the Triton Digital "July 2012 Internet Audio Top 20 Rankers."

Return to each time there is a new "Internet Audio Top 20 Rankers" released from Triton Digital. I do the breakout for you, and show what the radio industry is doing online in more detail than is available from any other source.

Click here to receive a FREE breakout of this report sent to you for each ranking month. It includes all groups in the publicly-released Triton Digital Ranker.

Note: For caveats pertaining to this month's release, please view the bottom of Triton Digital's report.

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