Monthly Archives: December 2008

Radio (Pre-) Sequel(s)

I grew up in a household, or more specifically with a mother, who is a semi-movie snob.  She has been enamored with the great performers like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck and others.

As such, I grew up with a natural love of movies (old and new) and a healthy disdain for the ‘re-make’ and even the sequel.  With that background, my brother and I saw the re-make of The Day The Earth Stood Still yesterday and, unfortunately, it lived up to all my expectations of its low quality.

But it is not the movie that made me think of the radio industry and its both financial and creative problems, but the previews.  Over 80% of the previews were either for remakes or sequels – Terminator Salvation, Fast & Furious New Model, Star Trek to name a few.

With a relatively light audience and being an industry with its own problems, I found it disheartening that rather than try to attract new content, celebrate more original creations and give the audience a new reason to enjoy the theatre, the fell back on old, tired titles.

In looking at our airplay, the radio industry on the music side is in the same position; relying primarily on a few songs or artists instead of growing the content base more aggressively. The recent news that Talk surpassed Country in listenership to become the top radio format.  While I do not have the numbers on Talk, it is not difficult to believe that the lack of quality content is the top culprit.

As you can read in the table, I looked at the top 100-song-playlists over a 7-day period for 5 commercial radio formats as a quick sample and confirmed a disturbing fact.

The top 100 songs, which represent only 1.2% of the songs played, represent 46% of the airplay across those 5 commercial formats, a 37x multiple.  The top 20 songs, which represent only 0.2% of the songs played account for nearly 25% of the airplay, a 106x multiple.

Playlist Analysis Chart
Such a stagnant use of the wide variety of music actually available at all times is one problem the radio industry has that can be changed with little effort and would be in line with the movement of digital and mobile services…more variety, more personal input to choice.

Audiences, and advertisers, demand quality and diversity of content, especially now that the sources are so fragmented and varied.  Even correcting for the Christmas music flips, commercial radio is just not fulfilling that requirement to the best of its capabilities.

The stations continue to rely primarily, if not solely, on repetition as the method of discovery instead of expanding the methods to integrate mobile and digital sources or even SMS or email communication of their playlists in both push and pull fashion as other forms of informing listeners and providing them with music discovery tools beyond the top 5-10% of songs.

Change is not optional, but essential and Mediaguide is fortunate to be in a posistion to assist with its data and technology.

BIGResearch Suggests Automakers Increase Radio Spending

BIGResearch suggested today that media reallocation could play a significant role in a rescue plan for the Big 3 automakers. 

According to a recent
analysis of BIGresearch’s SIMM database by Prosper Technologies
, wide gaps
exist between how ad dollars have been spent versus what consumers say works
best when it comes to buying a car.

Most significantly, the research specifically suggests that Radio advertising, which currently accounts for an average of approximately 3% of the Big 3 ad spend should be increased to 21.5%.  According to BIGResearch, "its influence to purchase,
combined with lower costs makes it a stronger media option, which according to
consumers is under-utilized. On the other hand, the percentage of dollars spent
on TV is not relative to its influence to purchase, consumption and cost."

They suggested that TV should decrease from an average of approximately 41% to 17%.  "These findings are nothing short of a complete re-think of media
planning," said James Geoghegan, President of Media Head.

Using a tool like Mediaguide's SeeSpotRun, radio advertisers can take advantage of that more effective local reach even more through timely verification, competitive analysis by market, category or format and contextual insight into what music content accompanies the ad.

You can access the details and automaker-specific charts at

College Radio Still At The Forefront

While we here at Mediaguide and our close partners at CMJ have known this for quite a while as we see the best new music come across every day, it is nice to see the New York Times acknowledge the strength of college radio.

Media, especially music, discovery fragmentation is here to stay; no doubt about it.  To me, this NYT article is further affirmation that the combination of online and offline discovery of content and brands has become the norm, not the exception; especially amongst the sub-30 crowd.

While the business models still need to catch up to the consumer demands and, therefore, we are all experiencing some growing pains; the end result will be one of tremendous originality, creativity and innovation.  We just need to act smartly and conservatively to get there.

Happy Time To Ponder

I just spent the last 2 weeks in Mexico to get married to an absolutely wonderful and magnificent woman.  During those 2 weeks I enjoyed time with my friends and family, did not
work and had time to think and ponder the news of the day, both general
and radio/media/tech industry-specific.

A strong part of our relationship is the fact that we constantly challenge each other, making sure that we are always moving forward in our personal and professional lives.  I am sure many relationships are the same.

It is with that constant search for growth and improvement in my mind that I gasped out loud at the announcement that Nielsen would be launching a once/year diary service for radio.  Now Nielsen is a pioneer in the world of audience measurement to be sure, but this service, in my opinion, is exactly the OPPOSITE of what the radio industry needs for 2 main reasons:

1. Lack of Timeliness – At Mediaguide we believe in immediate information for advertisers and have learned that the demand for fast information turnaround has increased, not decreased.  To serve both the brand and direct response advertisers well in this competitive advertising environment, we must all provide as close to real-time analytics as possible to give an accurate view of the world and, more importantly, an accurate measurement of the ROI.

2. Lack of Interactive Relevance – A snapshot of audience once per year, or even once per quarter for that matter, does not give the brand or content owner any insight into how their message moved the listener and consumer to action.  The primary objective of business intelligence in this new era of fragmented media must be the actions of the consumers.  To be blunt, there is limited value to the advertiser in knowing how many people MAY be listening; but there is tremendous value in knowing and measuring who RESPONDED.

The combination of traditional media to inform and digital/mobile applications to respond and measure should be the focus of all of us that touch the radio industry.  While Nielsen is a tremendous company I agree with Mark Ramsey and fail to see how this service moves the industry forward.