Friday, April 29, 2016

LES WAAS: MORE THAN JUST THE MISTER SOFTEE JINGLE CREATOR: His Thoughts on Today's Ads Plus Three Take-Aways For Better Creative

Like most of us in the business, you have my attention when you start talking about "creative" and about the people behind the work.

So it was predictable that I wanted to learn more about Les Waas who’s passing at 94 has been getting coverage everywhere. 

After a few hours of enjoyable research, I now know a lot more about the ad man who wrote the Mister Softee jingle in 1960.

For instance, he didn’t know how to read or write music.

That’s not only amazing for a man who wrote nearly 1000 jingles over his career, it’s courageous - even outrageous (in the best sense).

A spirit of courage and crazy-creative plays out in an interview Les did for the Pioneers of Philadelphia Broadcasting - particularly when he recounted some of his Philadelphia ad agency’s ideas and campaigns.

“I would never do anything inside the box,” he said in the interview before sharing a story about a campaign for a car dealer that increased the dealer's business fivefold (the idea involved selling the dealer’s emblem to people who didn’t buy their cars at the client’s business).

He also shared a story about a car dealer that advertised such a low price it drew a huge crowd. However that didn’t work out so well once people discovered that the price didn’t include things like the engine.

While automotive was a subject he came back to a few times, Les had thoughts about the lack of advertising creative in general and radio ads in particular.

“It took a creative brain to get into advertising…I don’t think I could do something straight. That’s writing a commercial. And a lot of that you hear now on radio is just an announcer. And they do a good job and everything, but they don’t go into creativity as much as they used to…the ads or commercials don’t seem to grab your attention. Some do…but the percentage is very small.”

While listening to Les' recollections in the interview and time traveling to the advertising world of the 60s was fun and helped to tell a great backstory about the creator of the Mister Softee jingle, obviously many of these 50 year-old campaigns are, today, appropriately curiosities.

But there were relevant take-aways from this ad man, too: 

Les' litmus test for success: If you can't remember it after the recording session then it wasn't a good ad. 

To come coming up with new ideas, surround yourself with a lot of different people.

Act immediately when creativity or inspiration strikes. “I couldn‘t hold back coming up with a creative idea. I had to do it right away.”

Being creatively courageous requires letting go of fears that could otherwise hold you back.

After all, a man who didn't know how to read or write music created more than 950 jingles.

Oh, one more thing: make sure the advertised price for a car includes the engine.

PS: As you may know, Les Waas’ Mister Softee had lyrics (lyric sheet here

For a real treat, you can hear the jingle’s creator bring them to life in the last few minutes of this YouTube video.

You can hear the produced version of the jingle in the first of these black and white TV spots here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Best Jobs Survey: Entertaining on the One Hand, An Opportunity for Growth, Respect and Recruitment on the Other

Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about surveys like this, but the latest 2016 Jobs Report ranks “Disc Jockey” 197th out of 200 (we’ve apparently lost our bullet; in 2012 we were 180th).

Obviously if you love what you do, your job is at or near the top of your own list and no survey (other than consistently bad ratings reports or reviews if you're in radio) is likely to make you re-think your career choice.

Still, it’s interesting that many of the things that are most rewarding about being a Talent – such as competitiveness, having your work be highly visible by the public, and working in situations where you’re face-to-face with people – are seen as job negatives in the survey methodology

To compile the list, uses four “Core Criteria:”

1 - Job Factors including the emotional environment. The survey sees such things as competitiveness and public contact as potential negatives. Most talent would see these as positives.

2 - Income: OK, you’ve got us there. But, show of hands please, how many of us got into performing for the money? So maybe this is only worth half the negative weight.

3 - Employment and Income growth potential: Uh, let’s move on.

4 - Stress Factors: Again the survey takes such things as Competitiveness, Travel, Working in the Public Eye, and Meeting the Public as job negatives; hopefully we all see these as things to embrace not avoid.

Also, the survey's "Disc Jockey" job description is “Broadcasts Music for Radio Stations.”

That’s pretty narrow.

Running through the rest of the 200 jobs ranked, I found another 35 jobs that are (or should be) at least part of being a “Disc Jockey” including the survey's number one occupation, “Data Scientist” described as someone who “Combines information technology, statistical analysis and other disciplines to interpret trends from data.” Sounds like thoroughly breaking out ratings data to see how your show has grown.

Or how about career number 48 – “Social Media Manager” who “plans and directs online, social media presence.” Most successful talent are working hard at using Social every day.

Or Historian (61), Actor (112), PR Executive (121), Author (144) or Photographer - Instagram and Snapchat anyone? (162).

Averaging the ranks of all the jobs that are part of being a highly successful talent today would make our new rank 111. 

Adjust those aspects of the Core Criteria seen as negative to most jobs to positives in the world of talent and we'd rank higher still.

Of course no ranking should change how we feel about what we do - especially if we embrace challenge, competition, public performance, and relish the fact that our job allows us to be successful in at least 35 other jobs from Data Scientist (#1) to Advertising Sales Person (#193).

These oft unnoticed abilities we have, the work leading up to a performance, and the new growth challenges we take on and attempt to excel at daily should be a source of pride - and dare I say, be an opportunity to showcase what we do as an attractive and exciting career.

No disrespect at all to the work does. In fact, their survey points out a very real truth.

If you're a Disc Jockey and all you do at your job is “Broadcast Music for Radio Stations,” then perhaps a rank of 197 is appropriate.

The last time I commented on this survey was 2012; you can read that blog here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New From Nielsen: The Replacements for Maximi$er and PD Advantage/Desktop

Starting this week, many programmers will be breaking out their quarterly ratings for the first time without Maximi$er.

Nielsen has just retired the legacy software along with PD Advantage Desktop and Data Express (ADE). Former Maximi$er clients will have access to PDA Light (the Max replacement) while former desktop PDA Advantage clients will have access to PDA Web.

If you are a programmer upgrading from Tapscan or E-Book only access, you’ll love the deeper dive into your numbers that you can take with these two programs.  Long-time Max/PDA users should feel comfortable fairly quickly – especially with PDA Web.

For a quick overview of what to expect, here is Nielsen’s summary of the new products: 

Besides delivery, there are several changes and additions in the online version of PD Advantage Light and PD Advantage which too has migrated from the desktop.

In both cases, station data lives online rather than being available for download (thus the automatic retirement of ADE). This means of course that users must be online to generate reports. 

Navigating the online version of PD Advantage will look very familiar to users of the desktop software. PDA Light’s navigation on the other hand is different from Max although it's intuitive – especially if you were a regular user of Maximi$er’s Programmers Package. 

Now, here’s a closer look at PDA Light and PD Advantage Web.

PDA Light

After logging in, the user is presented with a new reports screen (legacy Maximi$er on the left and the new PDA Light on the right). 

All the Maximi$er reports are in PDA Light with the exception of Report N (Total Day-To-Day Listening) and Report O (Specific Day-To-Day Listening). 

Format Norms and Top Performers (formerly a PD Advantage-only report) will be added to PDA Light later this year – a nice addition for comparing local vs. national performance.

Some of the “clunky” parts of Maximi$er have been streamlined. For example in PDA Light, demos and other report criteria can be selected using “blue links” at the top of report pages; this makes comparing demos and dayparts easier since users won’t have to leave a report screen to change parameters as in Maximi$er.

Meanwhile the process for changing base weeks is nearly identical to that in Maximi$er. And, just like in Max, you can trend up to 5 books on one screen.        

Report formats, like this for Daypart Trending, can look a bit different though the important content is nearly identical.

In another change, Diary Comments will now be released simultaneously with the quarterly data eliminating the CD delivery method. If you’ve reviewed your diaries in person, you’ll find the sorting options familiar, enabling you to quickly see your comments separate for the entire market.

With the exception of Diary Comments which date back only to fall 2015, all other data will go back 3 ½ years for trending purposes.

While it was not the most critical of the Maximi$er reports, I’ll miss report N which was an easy way to check Horizontal Cuming.  Plus, for travelers, only have access to data online will be an inconvenience.

Still, there are a number of Maximi$er upgrades that I like a lot, particularly the addition of Format Norms and Top Performers.

PD Advantage Web

For former desktop users of PD Advantage, 16 reports from the legacy version have migrated to PDA Web with some reports having new looks or additions. One of these is the Cume/TSL Report (“Grid of Pain”) which now offers multiple cume and TSL scenarios on how a specified ratings goal can be attained.

The Leading Indicators Report has a new graphing option and there’s also a new Audience Sharing report that expands on what’s in PDA Light. Also there is a newly added HD/Streaming Station report.

At this point “Workplace Zip Code” and “Mostly Spanish Breakouts” reports are presently unavailable in PDA Web though the latter is available in Tapscan.

As you go through your first analysis using the new software, feel free to call for help either in interpretation or execution. 

And of course we’d love to hear/share YOUR observations and experiences with this new software. 

Special thanks to Nielsen’s Jennifer Bratten, Manager Client Support, who provided me with a guided tour of both products, patiently answers my questions, and generously shared her slide deck so that A&O&B stations could be better informed. Also, Jennifer hosts Nielsen’s online training sessions. She’s an excellent presenter with a wealth of information on how to get the most from Nielsen’s products. Nielsen Audio clients can see and sign up for future sessions here.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

How Political Analysts Can Help Coach Talent is full of interesting content. Sports and politics of course, but also science, economics and culture (read about the Batman-Superman bromance here). 

And now, FiveThirtyEight has a coaching tip for radio.

OK, not exactly.

But their recent post about the most frequently used phrases by Presidential Candidates Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders got me thinking about how quantifying talents’ most oft-used subject matter – the fascinating and the irrelevant – could be a handy coaching tool.

FiveThirtyEight’s Clinton-Sanders piece uses a statistical procedure call dtf-idf which compares the frequency of words or phrases in a document, a speech, a body of speeches, etc. to their use in general.

Reading about dtf-idf was fascinating if geeky, though I was looking for a less “math-intensive” alternative to use as a coaching tool.

Enter Document Classification often used in library science to assign a piece of work to one or more categories - geography, history, science, etc.  

Subjecting a show to Document Classification could look like this:

The process can be done via an algorithm (as in text classification used for spam detection) or intellectually (manually) through user-defined criteria – the latter being perfectly fine for coaching purposes.

Plus you can quickly turn your data into a visual to help you make your point. Two shows might break out like this:

Roadmap 2016 – A&O&B’s annual client online perceptual – again confirmed listeners’ top reasons for picking one station over a competitor: plays the best music, makes me feel good when I listen, fun DJs who sound like and talk about things like my friends.

Obviously some of the bars above meet the listener criteria better than others – and that’s the point.

One of my favorite “Radio Algebra” formulae is that EV > CL – that is, the “entertainment value must be greater than the cost of listening.” The greater that differential is, the more powerful your show and station are.

A Document Classification visual can help you make that point.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

First January Nielsens Bring Holiday Hangover Relief

The first ratings of 2016 are rolling out and - at least on the first day - it’s “thank goodness!” for Country.

While a number of formats are no doubt looking forward to a ratings period that does not include Christmas music, probably no format is more excited to turn the page than country which lost more November-Holiday audience than any other major format.

Here’s how Nielsen trended the 6+ November-Holiday book change-in-share; this includes record 6+ and 18-34 shares for AC (12.9 and 11.5 respectively) as well as a 4-year tie for highest shares 25-54 (12.1).

For country, the first 6+ PPMs that were reported Tuesday (2/16/16) were like a double dose of aspirin and prickly pear extract.

15 of the 21 measured country stations were up (5 were flat and one HD2 channel was off). 

Country, while taking the biggest November/Holiday audience ‘hit,’ is also the major format that tends to ride its January increase the longest increasing shares from the first of the year well into the summer and, last year, to September.

As I posted in an earlier blog, a number of formats see post-holiday increases that begin with a January "build."

Certainly country has challenges ahead. However history suggests that the calendar isn't one of them.

Can I get an “Amen” from country and formats that show steady growth with the start of the new year?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Need Some New Motivation? Imagine Yourself at an NFL Team Meeting

“Peer pressure is one of the greatest motivators in professional football,” former Dallas Cowboys and OU Sooners Coach Barry Switzer told the audience at the talent coaching session at this year’s Country Radio Seminar.

To make his point, Coach Switzer went on to tell the story of a particular Wednesday morning team meeting - Wednesday being the day when the entire Cowboys team would gather to watch videos of last week’s kicking game.  Everyone on the team - whether they’re part of the kicking unit or not - is present.

The video rolled and everybody watched as the individual kicking plays were shown.

It would quickly become obvious who was or was not giving their all.

As one player’s performance was called out as under-performing, Coach Switzer recalled Michael Irvin standing up and, in the presence not only of the offending player but the entire team shout, “Cut him Coach! He's going to cost us wins!"

Immediately I imagined a weekly air check meeting where everyone in the building was summoned to hear breaks from each talent’s week of shows and voice their opinions about the effort the talent was putting forth.

Knowing your work is going to be laid bare and evaluated by your teammates - not only for its in-the-moment impact, but for its positive or negative reflection on the brand and everyone associated with it now and in the future - would indeed be one heck of a motivator!

The thing is, that while we don’t generally put our on air talent through something like this (though it does give you pause), listeners do. 

And they too have a version of “Cut him, Coach!”

It goes something like: “I’m tuning out now because there must be something that's more entertaining than this.”

Hopefully we’re all aspiring to be exceptional every break (or sales call or in responding to a listener touch-point) every day. 

But a little extra motivation is never a bad thing.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Satisfaction and Switching - Listener Hot and Cold Buttons and the Impact of Switchers

Two of the many topics we track in Roadmap – A&O&B’s annual "state of country" online perceptual study – are country listeners' 1) degree of station satisfaction and 2) switching behavior.

As we shared last year in our Pre-CRS seminar, the three-year overall satisfaction level with the country stations in our survey has been consistently high with the percent of respondents reporting they were “Very Satisfied” with their country station averaging 74%.

Playing the best music, having strong and relatable talent who sound like friends, and creating a “feel good” atmosphere have topped the list of listener satisfaction "hot-buttons" for many years running. Music quantity, local DJs, and embracing new music were other qualities that ranked in the top 1/3 of listener responses.

Among listeners who expressed some level of dissatisfaction, song repetition and too many commercials were the top two reasons (again, we’ve seen these two as the top negatives for several years).  There were also concerns over music styles, music mix/chronology, and irrelevant talk/content from the talent. 

For those who were less than satisfied, we asked - among other things - about their switching habits (if any).

Here’s a slide from last year’s Roadmap 2015 presentation of the "switched-to" destinations for 18-54s, in 2014 vs. 2015.

“Another country station” (32% up from 28%), a pure play (31% also up from 28%), and a station with a format other than country (28% up from 24%) were the top responses. 

The biggest decline was “nothing in particular” which fell from 24 to 19% suggesting perhaps that listeners may be developing a self-defined hierarchy of audio alternatives. 

Sharing/switching is an important subject to track as it can identify competitors beyond cume and QHR duplication.

In fact, switching is one of the "deep dive" subjects we'll jump into at our annual A&O&B Pre-CRS Seminar next week. 

Coleman Insights’ President and COO Warren Kurtzman and RCS and Media Monitors President and CEO Philippe Generali are the research leaders in this area they've agreed to share not only their latest intel on the switching habits of country users but - importantly -  the strategic implications of that switching, particularly the different impact a of country listener who turns your station on first vs. switches to your station from another.

The industry premiere of this country listener information is just part of our annual half-day meeting preceding CRS. This year's line up of great presenters and timely topics include:

Don Schlitz, Grammy, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter, and member of the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame will share insights on storytelling including how to find ideas and bring them to life with words.

Stephanie Friedman, VP Radio Nielsen Entertainment will reveal insights on streaming data and offer streaming strategies for radio.

Attorney Stacey Schlitz will speak on contracts, protecting intellectual property such as content, and performance rights, and other issues unique to the entertainment field – all of which are especially relevant as stations become increasingly involved with concerts.

Another highlight each year is a live, intimate performance and photo op from an emerging artist/group.

To that end we're very appreciative of the continued support of BMLG’s Republic Nashville. Last year attendees were treated to an amazing set of music from A Thousand Horses. This year year our featured artist is Republic Nashville's Brett Young

We hope you’re planning to join us Monday February 8, 2016 at the new home of the Country Radio Seminar, The Omni Downtown Nashville, from 10:30 am-1:30pm. The A&O&B Pre-CRS Seminar is free and is open to all clients as well as to broadcasters in non-competitive situations. 

You can RSVP

And, if you haven't yet registered for CRS 2016 you can do so here