Thursday, December 30, 2010

Growing You Audience in 2011: Try a Wii Bit of Subtraction

When we think about growing audience, we often think about adding things. In fact, subtraction is often a better strategy.

I thought about this as I read a post-Christmas Tweet from someone expressing disappointment that their Wii didn’t play Blu-rays.

Granted, a Wii with a Blu-ray player could be useful for some owners, but having that ability isn’t central to the Wii’s core benefits. And, if the Wii were to retain its price point, what would have to be sacrificed to add this feature, and how would that sacrifice negatively impact the Wii’s overall experience in terms of its primary appeal?

Most radio perceptual studies include a segment on music as a tool to build audience. Usually it involves identifying a popular music style and then adding, one at a time, additional adjacent music styles in order to increase the size of the audience. At a certain point however, the addition of too many adjacent styles begins to shrink rather than grow the size of the coalition as these additions off-put more listeners than they attract.

Over time, a station can accumulate any number of additional, adjacent components. While some of these “augmented benefits” could induce some additional buying, some may be repelling it.

Periodically review your product, subtracting things that compromise your “core competencies” (why listeners choose you over a competitor), create barriers to increased consumption, or that actually contract the size of your audience.

Enabling the Wii to play Blu-rays could conceivably sell a few more devices, but if those sales come at the expense of the gaming experience or the brand position, it’s a bad strategy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gen Y's Top Artsts

The end of the year always brings lists and quizzes. Here’s one of interest: Gen-Y’s Top 77 singers/bands/musicians.

Anderson Analytics polled 1000 college students (survey limits noted) asking, “Who is your favorite musician/band currently?”

Want to guess how many country artists are on the list? How many are in the top 20? Who they might be? (Continue when you’re ready).

The answers are: six acts in the top 77 and four in the top 20: Taylor Swift (1), Jason Aldean (13), Rascal Flatts (16), Miranda Lambert (20), Carrie Underwood (38) and Brad Paisley (58).

This is a diverse Top 10 list (see it here) which includes Linkin Park (2), Lady Gaga (3) and the Beatles (#6).

Music Marketer Greg Rollett says of Gen-Y’s music tastes, “The hybrid of music is here to stay. The millennial generation, along with the younger teens and tweens are living in a society that is multicultural in nature, not knowing a country divided by race for most of the rural and even urban cities…the message is more important than the race or ethnicity of a person”

With Gen Y’s making up a good portion of 18-34s, about 1/3 of whom cume country, their interests warrant attention.

As Anderson’s Top 77 list certainly points out, age isn’t the sole indicator of taste.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thanks Gerry House - You've Helped Us All Build a Stronger "Foundation"

Thank you, Gerry House.

For 3 decades you’ve showed us how to craft shows that compel listeners to be willing, habitual consumers.

Content "foundations" of the House Foundation included a balance of humor and heart-tuggers, country and mass appeal content, authoritative and self-deprecating content, and stories that were both personal and universal.

Shows were peppered with memorable stories and (sometimes) improbable characters that rang true because they were rooted in our own lives or in the stereotypes we’ve either encountered or imagined we might encounter at the Walmart or some country bar near us (can’t you just SEE Mack Truck?).

Tonight I'm imagining Gerry’s huge local following, many of whom I perceive are facing mornings with the same emptiness one might feel after looking in the mirror knowing that earlier this week you had one of your front teeth extracted.

So I can’t help but wonder tonight why, less than 18 hours after such a significant page in Nashville radio history has been turned, can Gerry’s story possibly be the THIRD story on the WSIX website flipper?

Note to programmers (with no disrespect to anyone): Move at the pace of your listeners. Be neither too far ahead nor ever behind where your listeners are. Whether it’s music or major station events, be in sync with your audience. Today’s hot news/songs/artists/contests will moves to the ‘back page’ fast enough. Make sure you get your money’s worth before you too move on.

Note to Gerry: Like so many of us in radio, I’m both a fan and a debtor - appreciative of your contributions to radio as a whole and our format specifically.

And if you DO decide to come to New York for a vacation, I’d be honored to be your tour guide or at least make a few restaurant recommendations.

Oh, one more thing - here in New Jersey, we have a different definition of "God speed;" 75%  of all limited access highways have a speed limit of 65.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The "Best" Or "Most" Wasn't Enough

Sometimes it's not about the “best” or “most” or any superlative. Sometimes it’s not about anything tangible at all. Sometimes it’s just about how you “feel.”

Like Cliff Lee’s decision to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies instead of going for the (presumably) best location (closest to home) or the most (no presumption here - 7 years’ worth of it) money.

Along this road to Citizen's Bank Park there was plenty of spectacle - although these didn’t stem from the physical either. Instead, it was silence-driven, suspense fueled talk and theories that drove attention to the sport, the teams involved, and Lee.

Listeners love stories, spectacle, and content that makes them feel something. This story had all that plus a surprise ending.

Baseball may not be your listeners’ passion, but the Cliff Lee saga contained the tenets of what makes a great radio story: a journey that unfolded a chapter at a time, engaging listeners, stirring passion, creating mystery, and causing talk.

Oh, and one more thing – it temporarily took the spotlight off the New York Jets.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why FOX Likes Radio

If you’re outside the industry, it seems almost fashionable to find reasons not to like “heritage” media like radio.

But Wednesday, at the Arbitron Client Conference/Jacob's Summit 15Yvonne Lacey, FOX Broadcasting’s Media Supervisor, took the opposite position. FOX like radio – a lot.

Pointing out that the FOX Network originally launched exclusively with radio and in so doing created the TV spending category for radio, Yvonne shared some reasons why FOX finds radio a good partner, as well as the network’s perception of radio - pro and con

Here are some highlights.

Why FOX Likes Radio:

• Works well with other medium, enhancing buys on TV, cable

• Allows creative ways to promote; can mirror their products’ image

• Longer-length spots drive critical messages while shorter length spots solidify image

What Radio Does for FOX:

• Elevates awareness and promotes tune-in for FOX shows

• Includes on-air and on-line elements in a unique way (such as Glee audio via ftp site)

• Can mobilize listeners, particularly for FOX casting calls

• Can leverage talents’ passion for FOX shows and, in a quid pro quo, FOX supplies the talent with exclusive content, interviews, swag and more allowing audiences to perceive the talent as the expert on popular shows

• Utilizes on air and online for creative, multi-platform promotions and special content spots plus online banners, streaming and e-blasts to ‘accessorize’

• Unique promotional prizes and contest fulfillment

FOX also had some advice for radio, including improving digital accountability, making commercials more engaging, better integrating spots and marketing efforts, and taking a hard look at commercial-free policies.

But back to what FOX likes. I’ll bet your station has clients who can cite these and other benefits from their affiliation with you. Share those stories.

Or perhaps these bullets will stimulate addition thought on ways to serve an existing client, present your station to a potential new client, or create or enhance an on air or online programming element.

Feel free to share here. Your reaction, stories and ideas are always welcome!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Database Membership: So Few Contributing So Much

For plenty of businesses (radio included), a small number of consumers account for a disproportionately large percentage of consumption.

So it’s not surprising that our database, texting and points programs are subject to the same principles.

Still, seeing the statistics on station database/club participation that DMR Interactive President and COO Tripp Eldredge shared today at the Arbitron fly-in are worth some consideration:

• Less than 10% of most stations’ database members have been active with the station in the past 6 months

• Only 6.5% of most stations’ database members are actively involved in their station's “points program.” Of those that participate, 21% drive 80% of the activity

• Just 13% of text club members drive 80% of the messages with the vast majority only text station once a month

Because people are constantly leaving databases (actually or virtually opting out), “growing” membership may really mean standing still.

So here’s a thinking point: how active (or even how large) your database is, is at least in part a function of the value members feel they receive vs. the time they invest to participate.

Music panel participation rates dwindling? Not getting the response you once were to your emails or text clubs or other database-related outreach? Database not growing?

Consider increasing the value to the listener for their time invested.

Increasing the value of your website content could improve activity there, too.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Yes, But...

If you only look at the AQH Persons composition, you could write country off as an older-appeal format. Yes, the largest AQH cell is clearly 45-54 and yes, the 18+ AQH composition ranges from a low of 9.7% 18-24 to a high of 21.6% 45-54.

But the data released this week by the Research Director, Inc. and Inside Radio also shows that country has strength on the young end too, particularly in cume.

Unlike AQH persons, the cume rating by demo varies only slightly – about 4% -- between the data’s polar ends of 18-34 and 35-64 – much more homogenous than the data released so far show other formats.

Again, looking at the young-to-old variance but this time in shares, there’s only about a 10% difference from the polar ends – 3.6 to 3.9. The share differential is much greater across gender than age.

While the format (all stations combined) has a higher market rank as age increases – 18-34 (6th), 18-49 (5th), 25-54 (4th) and 35-64 (3rd) – individual stations rank best 18-34 then rank progressively lower through 25-54: 18-34 (6th), then 18-49 (8th) and 25-54 (9th). Even the 35-64 ranker has country 7th.

There’s a lot of data additional in the report including the impact of P1s (50% of country’s AQH comes from P1s which is a higher percent than any of the four other formats released to date including AC, Urban AC, Rock and Classic Rock), and that country’s P1 TSL is lower than all these except Urban Contemporary.

Plus, as CBS Radio VP of country programming Jeff Garrison observed in Monday’s Inside Radio, country is nearly a non-ethnic format (only 9% Black and Hispanic). That’s a factor now in urban markets and could be more so in the immediate future when the 2010 census is incorporated into Arbitron estimates.

But back to the format’s broad, healthy cuming: the most successful country stations will be those that best serve three generations of listeners with engaging, common denominator content, songs with passion across demos, relevance and in an environment that “feels good” every day and daypart.