Thursday, January 08, 2015

Need a Challenge in 2015? Try these Two

It seems that hardly a daypart goes by this time of year when you don’t encounter some sort of “resolution-for-the-new-year” piece.

This isn’t one of those – at least not exactly. 

Instead it’s a two-fold challenge not just for this year but for years to come: “What new things will you learn and how will you contribute to an ‘environment of high expectations’?”

The challenge is different from a resolution in at least two ways:  the camera angle and the ongoing opportunity factor.

Too often the camera angle on a resolution is directed at elimination while we live in a world of creation.  By continually pointing your camera away from subtraction and toward addition – from adding great content on the air to bringing new ideas to help clients – you'll always be thinking about adding value.

Adding value is related to the cultivation of high expectations.  

Successful athletes often point to how they’re continually challenged to be their best by the actions and work ethics of their teammates. You’ve likely been in, or at least heard about, this type of environment. It’s one that's either stimulating or uncomfortable, depending on whether or not your focus is on making valuable contributions.

Way back when I used to write an annual New Year’s piece that was like a pick-and-choose list of “radio resolutions.”  For fun I reviewed that list (which ultimately had grown to 60 ideas) over the holidays and decided that while many were still relevant and valuable, they really were subsets of learning and of cultivating an environment of high expectations. But presenting them as part of a check-off list gave them an unintended “finite” feel.

So here’s one more thought: when you challenge yourself to learn new things and to be a daily contributor to (or perhaps a leader of) an environment of high expectations, instead of subtracting something from a ‘to do’ list, you open the door for an on-going, ever-growing, dare we suggest even unlimited opportunity for positive growth for you and those around you.

Resolutions are effective for some folks I suppose, but I much prefer the process of addition rather than subtraction.

Monday, December 22, 2014

One More Year-End List: Country's Top 10 for 2014

This time of the year we’re tripping over “End of the Year” lists.

Still, we’re pleased to add one more – A&O&B’s annual “Top Songs of the Year.” Each year we publish for clients the final research-driven rankings of every song we added over the previous 12 months. There were 88 in all in 2014. 

Here are this year’s Top 10 songs:

Luke Bryan
Drink A Beer
Luke Bryan
Play It Again
Brantley Gilbert
Bottoms Up
Blake Shelton
My Eyes
Frankie Ballard
Sunshine and Whiskey
Blake Shelton
Doin’ What She Likes
Florida-Georgia Line
Dierks Bentley
Drunk On A Plane
Justin Moore
Lettin’ the Night Roll
Luke Bryan

This is the third consecutive year that Luke Bryan has placed multiple songs in the Top 10 and third time in four years that Blake Shelton has done it. To put that in perspective, the only other artists to have multiple songs in our Top 10 were Brad Paisley who had two in 2011 and the Zac Brown Band who had 3 in 2010.

“Drink A Beer” had the top “Like A Lot” score - a perfect 1.0 (the song’s rank average over the last 8 weeks of its life as a current) and spent 13 weeks as our number one testing song.  In addition to his Top 10 finishing titles, Luke also appeared on the 12th song of the year as part of Florida-Georgia Line’s “This is How We Roll.”

This made Luke Bryan our Top Artist of the Year.

Blake Shelton, who was last year's Top Aritst, finished number two to Luke. Blake had two songs in the Top 10 this year as well as one more in the 20s. 

This is the second year in a row that Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton had the most titles in the top 1/3 of all songs tested.

Meanwhile, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Florida-Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum and Cole Swindell had good years too with each placing two titles in the Top 30.

Notably absent from among the top test titles were Historical Superstars – major artists that had multiple yearly hits prior to 1997.

Total Positive scores were similar to what we saw last year. However “Favorite/Like A Lot” scores for all songs were softer again this year. Anecdotally, market-to-market, we’re seeing an increasing lack of consensus on the biggest hits each week making local research ever more important.

Here’s an Infographic with more.  Enjoy!

You can also check out our Top 10 lists for 2013 here and 2012 part one here and part two here.

And if you're fascinated by America's fascination with end of the year lists, you'll enjoy this from the Washington Post.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gen X and Boomers: Biggest Holiday Spenders

Just ahead of Black Friday, Prosper Insights and Analytics released their November Consumer Snapshot which included projected holiday spending by demo. 

Some $135-billion is forecast to be spent this year with Gen X and Boomers projected to account for two-thirds of these purchases. 

While Millennials are often chased, they are projected to account for just 18% of all 2014 holiday spending.

If your target audience includes 35-64s, you might want to share this "holiday pie" with your advertisers and prospects:

Prosper Insights and Analytics also has a holiday spending video here and more data here in their "Retailers to Watch" report.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Value Added Plus-Plus: Client Edification Efforts from Both Coasts

When Entercom’s The End in Seattle cut its spot load this summer, it caused quite a bit of talk.  As you may recall in addition to lowering their hourly spot load to six minutes, breaks were limited to two minutes.

Inside Radio reported Tuesday on how that’s been going, including a chart showing steady growth 18-34 and 18-49 thanks to more occasions and longer listening durations.

While the spot load/break duration may have attracted the most attention, what The End is doing for its advertisers shouldn’t fly under the radar: being an information resource for clients on the station's target audience (Millennials). 

According to IR, the station has hired a Millennial marketing expert, built an accessible library of information on marketing to Millennials, and assembled an ‘on demand’ focus group program to provide clients with creative and strategic feedback.

“Entercom Seattle has recognized that The End doesn’t just compete against other radio stations in Seattle, but is part of broader media landscape,” said Jacobs Media’s Fred Jacobs (@fnjacobs) who consults the station. “Understanding changing generational tastes is a major step and a really smart move.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the GMs from all five major clusters in Norfolk, VA - Max Media, iHeart Media, Entercom, Saga and Sinclair - hosted an educational seminar for some 300 advertisers called "Navigating the New Media Landscape." 

Together with Gordon Borrell, the GMs' discussed the impact of combining traditional and digital media (Max Media Market Manager Dave Paulus will give us all an inside look at the process of creating this event and its end result at A&O&B's annual pre-CRS seminar on Wednesday morning, February 25th.)  

"Value added" often means some sort of spot bonus or web freebie. But helping our station clients (and, perhaps in the process, ourselves) to better understand and serve the audience is a longer-lasting, far superior value that "connects the dots" in a way where everyone benefits.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tale of Two Bar Graphs: Country Shares and Music Scores

If you want to see just how long the current ‘up’ ratings cycle has been going on for country, this just-released Nielsen bar chart and This Week In Music article affords a nice 10,000 foot view:

According to Nielsen, country is the “top national format among Millennials (aged 18-34) and Generation X’ers (aged 35-49). And audience share has grown 17% with teens (12-17 year-olds) over the last two years…Among Boomers (aged 50-64), it’s the second most popular national format after News/Talk radio."

To get an idea of how music scores corresponded with this chart, I pulled A&O&B data from 2006 to 2013 to compare our music research with the Nielsen shares (at A&O&B, we’ve been tracking music research scores since 1998).

While our data is primarily from 25-54’s, it’s still easy to see parallel growth and the difference between the right and left sides of both graphs.

Compared to our music scores from 2006-2008, those for 2011-2013 averaged eight percentage points higher (visualize the chart without the two middle bars, 2009 and 2010).

Overall scores for both the top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the year were also higher.

In 2013 however, the gap between the Total Positive scores for the year’s top 1/3 testers vs. the bottom 1/3 widened slightly helping to explain the softer scores.  

More significantly, for the second straight year, the Like A Lot ("passion" score) gap between the top and bottom 1/3 widened as well.

Now, as the current Boom approaches its 6th year, the ongoing challenge for programmers isn’t finding songs listeners will like. Overall scores are still good – certainly compared to the pre-Boom years.

The challenge is identifying and aggressively exposing those high passion songs for an ever widening cume and fan base.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TSL: Profiting from a Limited Time Only Strategy

“The problem with your business,” the consultant explained, “is that your customers are saying, ‘If I don’t buy from you today, I’ll buy from you tomorrow.’”

That discussion wasn’t about radio, but it certainly could have been.

Each time a listener decides to listen tomorrow instead of today, the opportunity for an additional listening occasion is not only gone now, it's a possibility/probability that there won’t be any listening tomorrow either – especially if the decision to not listen today was rooted in too many “average” experiences.

On the one hand, predictability is important:  imaging (packaging), brand personality, talent, delivering and occasionally exceeding expectations, etc.

On the other hand, if the content never changes and yesterday’s show sounds pretty much like last week’s and last month’s and last year’s, a lack of listener enthusiasm can be manifest in “I’ll listen tomorrow” behavior.

The solution? The PSL – Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Metaphorically of course.

The PSL is a Limited Time Only (LTO) event. It gets attention and creates urgency, while combining the familiar, traditional brand expectations with something fresh.

The result for Starbucks is increased traffic.

How much? According to, in the 4th quarter of 2013 Starbucks saw 5% more foot traffic and 7% more sales - roughly $800-million worth of PSLs.

Knowing anything good deserves pre-promotion, Starbucks allowed some of their best customers to buy the drink early.

Taco Bell is also adept at the LTO strategy marrying familiarity with fervor via limited time menu items. They're also pre-promoters. Fans of the Beefy Crunch Burrito already know that its long-awaited return to the menu will happen nationwide on December 20th. Check it out on Facebook.

Radio’s LTO time line is different of course - it may only be a couple of breaks.

But, like the PSL or Beefy Crunch Burrito, our version of the LTO should:

  1. Be in-sync with and polish core values
  2. Have sufficient crave-ability to generate traffic and word of mouth
  3. Appear on a regular cycle
  4. Be well-promoted
  5. Have an anticipated arrival and be missed when it's gone
One break or one month of something special, radio LTO’s are anecdotes for to the ennui-driven decision to listen tomorrow instead of today.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Legacy Challenge

Like any good New York Yankees fan, I spent this past season trying to exceed the Minimum Daily Requirement of Derek Jeter.

Lately that hasn’t been hard to do, especially these last few weeks with all the videos - from the Re2pect commercial, to the Made In New York Bronx walk-through, to Jeter’s farewell to the crowd at the Stadium   

But the “Legacy” spot may be the best tribute of all, as players (kids and adults) paid their respects by modeling themselves after someone who inspired them.

That spot reminded me of why so many of us got into radio: because of a talent we connected with. 

Just like the players in “Legacy” we emulated our heroes’ styles, recreated what they were famous for, and perhaps envisioned ourselves doing their job along side them one day.

Admittedly I can find a baseball analogy for just about anything, but I frequently use this one about coming to bat and opening the mic.

No one in the majors is invisible when they come to the plate. Tens of thousands of fans are watching from the stands and ten times that or more are watching on TV or listening via radio. And they have high expectations. 

Perhaps because we seldom have the opportunity to make a visual connection with listeners while we’re on the air, it can be easy to forget that tens of thousands of our station’s fans are focused on us and what we say when we ‘come to bat.’

And they too have high expectations.

You can bet no major league batter walks to the plate without a plan. Yet, just speaking for myself when I was on the air, I know there were too many times when I opened the mic and wasn’t as prepared as I could have been.

I’d like to have those breaks back.

I’d like to have another chance to run as hard as I could to first on what inevitably was going to be just an infield groundout.

Being on the air is easy.

Being great on the air is not.

What’s your unique skill? What’s your plan for every break? Will you give it all you have, knowing that those listening could number between four and six figures, and that they're hoping for something great to happen when you open the mic?

What will you do on your upcoming breaks that will motivate today’s listeners to want to be a part of your show tomorrow… and perhaps even inspire others to follow in your footsteps?

That's the great Legacy Challenge.

PS: A tip of the cap to Paul Konerko of the White Sox – another great player who retired this weekend.  Here’s a nice piece on Paul from the Chicago Tribune.