Radio, Why are you ignoring the elephant in the room?

Why does it appear that radio is the last of the media groups to truly embrace digital?


The numbers can’t be lying: the audience is moving to it and your advertising dollars are moving to it.


I think the real issue at hand is that stations across the country would have to look themselves in the mirror and face the fact that they can’t sell digital. RadioInk released a survey earlier in the week that asked owners and managers to give their opinion on the state of their sales forces, and how that translates into digital sales. You can read that article here.


The overwhelming concensus was that the majority of traditional sales reps aren’t as knowledgeable in selling digital. If the radio industry wants their advertisers to invest in digital, the station needs to take the first step in investing in itself, and properly train its sales staff on the power of the digital platforms.


But we don’t want to point out a problem without solutions. Important things to understand when it comes to digital ad sales are the metrics and how that applies to specific demographics.


Whether you are selling website ads or selling mobile ads, be sure that your platform has an analytics tool (Google Analytics is a free and easy to understand tool) that can measure user behaviors on your platforms.


Take some time to research national trends – doing so you may learn that web radio advertisers, when surveyed, gave nearly a 58% higher ROI than terrestrial broadcast radio advertisers. Much of that is the ability to introduce a visual ad as well as a nearby platform (computer or smartphone) to act upon the call-to-action.


In the end it comes down to taking the time to understand what the market is doing, and what your advertisers truly need – even if they do not know it just yet.


Most people are slow to change, but don’t let that be you.

More stations turn to web portals to grow digital. –

From cute cat videos to “babes of the day,” many stations are trying whatever it takes to build website traffic.   But some managers say station websites just don’t attract enough visitors on their own to grab marketers’ attention or make a difference for local clients.  That’s why a growing number have turned to standalone local portals as their digital play.


In terms of content, most of the portals are driven by local news, weather and community events listings.  Horizon Broadcasting recently revived the site for Bend, OR, incorporating lessons learned from its old site.   President Keith Shipman says 91% of people went to the portal for local news, 7% wanted the weather, and 1% wanted to listen to the police scanner. There’s a growing urgency to build a more robust digital property says Shipman, who points out some automakers like Ford are requiring local dealers to allocate half of their co-op dollars to the web.  “When a local dealer calls, we have to create a vehicle for us to be in play for those dollars,” Shipman says.  “And they’re not the only client that’s thinking about that in today’s world.”


Nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Clark Broadcasting created for the Sonora, CA region.  Clark president H. Randolph Holder says the portal draws a mix of on-air clients who want to extend their buy to digital, like a local hospital that sponsors the health section on the website.  “Its cross-section has allowed us to provide an advertising vehicle for smaller mom and pop businesses,” Holder says.


Ten months after launching for Columbia, SC, Local Voice Media president Kirk Litton says growth has been “fantastic” as the local online portal has “taken on a life of its own.”  The site, which brings together radio and digital newspapers assets for Virginia and North Carolina, broke even after six months, and now is generating some profit without the “shell game” Litton sees many radio companies playing with digital revenue.   “These sites are real dollars,” he says. “Clients are buying a radio schedule along with a fully-funded digital advertising plan.  It’s not bastardizing one at the expense of the other.”


There’s no dedicated sales team for MyCentralOregon — Horizon Broadcasting reps pitch the portal.   “Every call they go on, we’re asking them to make a pitch for digital so we can identify what kind of budget is available from the advertiser and then hopefully be a good competitor for those digital dollars,” Shipman says. went live more than a decade ago and today Clark Broadcasting gets 15% of its total revenue from digital.   “There are people who we sell to that we’ve never been able to get on the radio, but they’ll buy the internet,” Holder says, though he doubts the site will even bring in enough to out-bill one of his radio stations.   Holder says his company doesn’t sell based on the number of clickthroughs ads receive.  Instead they offer a guaranteed impression.


Armed with internal metrics and Google Analytics, Litton says his sales reps are able to give local clients more “real data” than what Nielsen’s diary-based ratings can provide.  “It’s helped us get behind the ratings,” he says.


Love or hate it, bonus spots are a fact of life in radio in 2014 — much to the frustration of managers who hate to give anything away for free.   But companies that have created digital standalone websites say those web properties are remarkably resistant to bonusing.  “There isn’t one free ad on that site, there hasn’t been since day one,” Litton says, referring to the Columbia SC focused


Horizon Broadcasting says is a “cash-only” site as well.  “We have individual station website as well,” Shipman says, “and if added-value exists, it will be on those sites.”  Litton says his sales reps don’t even bother selling ads for their two Columbia stations’ websites, seeing them as more of a promotional tool.


Kitton says there’s good reason the digitally native brands can resists freebies.  “These sites can stand on their own, whereas a radio station’s website can’t because the larger piece of that is the actual broadcast signal,” he says.


After attempting to syndicate a portal product to other small market operators didn’t get far, Holder says he’s learned that many broadcasters are worried a robust portal will draw away on-air listeners.  But he thinks that’s the wrong way to view things.  “You’re also not going to cannibalize your listenership,” he says.  “You exploit it to run traffic to the portal and that enables you to sell the advertising to make it a standalone asset.”


Unlike station websites, community portals and digital news sites require more time, effort and expense to get off the ground and maintain.  But having sister radio stations brings lots of built-in assistance on all three counts.  While Horizon Broadcasting has hired a digital media director — a rare position in Bend, OR —Shipman says his company is “cross pollinating news” from news/talk KBNW (1340, 104.5) and ABC News Radio for    “I don’t dedicate manpower to just the local site, but there will be a day when we have to do that in order to remain competitive,” he predicts.


Holder says Clark Broadcasting is also leveraging a radio news staff.  The biggest startup expense for was creating the evergreen content about local parks for instance.  It also takes as much commitment to manage the website as another radio station, he says.


With a digital newspaper, Litton says required an even larger commitment, hiring five reporters and an editor. “We’re reporting local news, so it’s stuff people want 24/7,” he explains.  Yet Litton sees a big potential upside.  “Maybe someone isn’t a listener to one of our stations, but in some way we are touching them in the community that we’re in,” he says.


Holder agrees.  “We can only charge for people who listen to the station,” he adds. “So I can extend our reach with a portal that has ubiquitous appeal to the entire market. It’s a win-win.”


Attention RADIO stations: Clear Channel gives technology a bigger role, why not you?

Clear Channel president Brian Lakamp and Darren Davis are taking on newly expanded roles at the company in a pair of moves that on the surface are merely promotions.   But in a bigger sense, CEO Bob Pittman says the new roles are clear evidence that digital has become integrated into every aspect of the business.

The most noteworthy change is president of digital Brian Lakamp’s handoff of iHeartRadio management to Darren Davis, president of the Clear Channel Networks Group where the streaming music service will now reside.  The move allows Lakamp to take a broader, more futurist role at the company.   As president of technology and digital ventures he will look for new ways to use technology across all Clear Channel divisions, as well as oversee the development of big data integration to bring programmatic buying into radio.  Lakamp will also act as a liaison to Silicon Valley.

Pittman calls it “clear evidence” that Clear Channel is integrating digital into all aspects of the business and it’s happening at a faster pace than anyone had imagined it could.   Company president/CFO Rich Bressler says that putting Lakamp at the most senior level of the company with a digital and tech mandate also reflects “the increasingly important role that technology is playing at Clear Channel.”

Now reporting to Lakamp will be EVP of engineering and system integration Jeff Littlejohn, CIO Pete Gerrald, RCS Worldwide president Philippe Generali, and EVP of strategic development Joe Robinson.  Looking across the radio, digital and outdoor portfolio, Lakamp says he sees “massive opportunities” to use technology and business analytics in new ways.

The changes also represent a pivot point for iHeartRadio.  The recently rolled out version 5.0 has more than 50 million registered users.  It’s a noteworthy milestone.  But at the same time as it moves under the Clear Channel Networks Group there’s also a shift for the streaming service.  It’s no longer viewed as purely a technology but a piece of the programming and content delivery apparatus.

Pittman says iHeartRadio has been driven by on-air integrations, promotions, social media, and live events — many of which have been tied in with Clear Channel Outdoor, some internationally.    It’s all part of what he tells staff is the “continuing transformation” of Clear Channel into a “technology-fueled 21st century media and entertainment company.”

Networks Group president Darren Davis is taking over managing the app, so iHeartRadio will sit alongside Premiere Networks, the Total Traffic and Weather Network, and the 24/7 News Network.  Davis says he’s looking to use the “full promotional and creative power” of the various assets to continue growing iHeart.

Barclays media analyst Kannan Venkateshwar believes the media is in a “new phase of industry transformation” where the boundaries between distribution and content are being “blurred.”  Venkateshwar says that’s a good thing for content owners because of new ways to monetize content, a fact he thinks most investors are missing.  But while Venkateshwar says the media industry is either in a “golden age” or the early stage of a secular shift brought on by digital, he warns that disorder will likely rule the day.   The music industry and newspapers fell prey first, but Venkateshwar says as more barriers break down it could bring about even more fragmentation in the coming five to seven years.

Nielsen moves from demographics to buyer graphics.

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Account executives will use more than traditional age/gender demographics to describe their audience to advertising prospects under Nielsen’s grand plan for radio.  What’s happening at the cash register could be just an important component in the future.


Nielsen is working to link audio listening data with consumer purchase data.  That will make it possible for broadcasters to stack up their audience against a specific consumer brand or product category.  “In Chicago, classic rock listeners are much more likely to own Roadsters,” Nielsen SVP of local media product leadership Farshad Family said recently.  “Adult alternative listeners in Los Angeles over-index in the luxury car segment.  That’s the story you can tell.”


Family said the measurement giant plans to make the data available at the format and individual station level.  A station could show that its listeners are more likely to own, say a Ford F150 than any other station in the market.  “Were going to help you shift the conversation and get more granular in helping tell the story of who is listening,” he told the recent New Jersey Broadcasters Association conference.


Family said segmenting audiences by what are known as buyer graphics and demonstrating the impact a campaign had on sales after it ran are two primary ways the Nielsen intends to help stations better tell the story of its audience.  In April the company unveiled research showing that for every dollar spent on radio, advertisers on average received an incremental six dollars in sales from those exposed to a commercial in the prior 28 days.

Mobile Ads on Pace to Overtake Radio in 2014

If broadcasters had any doubt that embracing mobile is a wise move, a new forecast makes a numeric case for doing so. Fast-growing mobile advertising is, for the first time, set to take a larger share of ad dollars than radio this year analysts predict, according to today’s Inside Radio article.


Mobile ad spending will capture 9.8% of total media dollars, more than the 8.6% eMarketer predicts will be allocated to broadcast radio. It’s a reversal from last year, when radio’s 8.9% share was bigger than mobile’s 5.7%. Driven by the largest increase of any media segment, eMarketer forecasts marketers will also spend more on mobile than on magazines, print, and out-of-home media. Only television and desktop internet will have a larger slice of the advertising pie.

“There is a huge demand among radio advertisers to be in mobile,” Emmis Digital president Angie May Cook said in a recent interview. “They’re starting to understand that there’s real value in this, that’s it’s more than just an add-on to a radio buy.”


Helping that effort, a recent Nielsen-Digiday survey of advertisers and agencies found nearly a third of brands (31%) prefer to run mobile ads alongside radio. The eMarketer forecast estimates $17.73 billion will be spent on mobile advertising this year, an 83% increase compared to a year ago. By 2018, estimates are it will top $58 billion. Meanwhile, analysts project all traditional media — including radio, TV, outdoor and print — will see continued share erosion over the next several years as marketers shift more dollars into emerging digital options.


By 2018, eMarketer predicts digital will surpass even television, capturing nearly four of every ten dollars spent by advertisers. The firm says consumers spending more time with mobile devices is driving the shift.

Radio’s Other BIG Web Opportunity

The pot of gold radio is chasing with its digital assets is forecast to hit $35.2 billion this year.  But that’s only the advertising piece of the local online marketplace. Borrell Associates data shows there’s a much larger opportunity beyond just selling banner ads and streaming audio and video.


The bigger digital prize, Borrell says, is in providing digital services to local businesses.   Local businesses will pay $260 billion this year to vendors to manage their online presence, according to Borrell.  “That’s where the money is,” CEO Gordon Borrell said during a recent webinar.  In fact, local businesses spend 10-times more on digital services than they do on digital advertising. “Digital advertising is really just a thin slice of everything spent by local businesses on digital marketing,” Borrell says.


Although Borrell identified 18 types of digital services, just four account for three fourths of all digital services spending for companies with less than 250 employees.  They’re what the company describes as the “digital basics:” web hosting, online agency/exchange fees (money collected for selling advertising on someone else’s site), Search Engine Optimization and web design and maintenance.  “As you’re prospecting, the smaller the business, the more likely they are to spend almost all of their money in those four categories,” Borrell says.


Although some radio companies have reported solid gains from selling social media and email management services, Borrell found there isn’t much money in those categories — each represents only 0.2% of the digital services spend. Others, such as South Central Communications, have found success going beyond selling just the “digital basics” into areas like website development.  “It’s not very profitable but they believe it’s a gateway product for getting more business,” Borrell says.


A growing number of radio companies are tapping into digital services as a new revenue stream, including Entercom, Hubbard Radio, NextMedia and Beasley Broadcast Group.   A January survey conducted by Borrell for the Radio Advertising Bureau found one out of three stations is selling digital services.  In some cases, companies have found that selling digital services produces higher margins than ad sales do.  The dominant category in what’s expected to total $260 billion in digital services spending this year is general merchandise stores.  The category, which includes department stores, big box retailers, warehouse club stores and country general stores, spends four times as much as the No. 2 category, which is all other business locations.


Other significant spenders include schools, employment services, hospitals and restaurants.   But Gordon Borrell cautions against prospecting “the smallest of the smalls.”  Local businesses that employ fewer than 10 people, such as locksmiths, barber shops and RV dealers, are ones to steer clear of, he says. Packaging up digital services for clients is said to be an important part of a successful digital services strategy.  “The real lesson is this isn’t sold in piecemeal,” Borrell says. “It is all bundled.”

Source of information from

What Radio Stations Can Take From Townsquare Media’s IPO

Townsquare Media has disclosed that it plans to go public. Although this revelation has little to no impact on your radio station, it does allow us to take a deeper look into the operations and revenue from such a “successful” radio group.


As I combed through the numbers, there was two interesting key points that I came across. And radio owners and managers need to take notice.


1. 26% Of Townsquare’s Revenue Comes From Outside Radio


That’s a stunning Townsquare number that’s sure to catch many in the radio industry by surprise. While many public companies are reporting decent growth from digital, events and non-spot revenue, they also admit the total number, compared to over-the-air revenue, is small. For the first quarter of 2014, Townsquare reports in its S1 filing that 26 percent of net revenue was generated from sources other than the sale of terrestrial radio station advertising.


2. Chief Content and Digital Officer is the highest paid of all Townsquare Media Executives and Officials


The CEO and CFO both made less than Townsquare Media’s Chief Content and Digital Officer over the past two years.


These two findings, I believe are what radio owners and managers need to pay attention to. With digital revenues being around 3% of total revenue for the average station nationwide, Townsquare was able to bring this number up to a whopping 26 percent. This would explain why the company is willing to pay their Chief Digital Officer the highest salary in the entire company. With traditional ad revenue relatively flat over the past few years for most radio stations, digital revenue is a stream that is projected to experience rapid growth, and this can be of great significance to many radio stations nationwide.


Inside Radio recently reported that the average radio station raked in nearly $167,000 in digital revenue in 2013. As many groups are seeing the benefits of digital, they are quickly directing the sales and hiring efforts to those who specialize in digital.


Source for article is

Our Mobile Apps Are Here… So What’s Next?

It has been 9 months since we purchased a local radio mobile application developer and launched our Mersoft Media division. We have devoted countless hours to developing a unique application that has capabilities that no other radio mobile application in the market can do. (Call us to learn how this is so)


With our iPhone platform only having been complete for about 6 weeks, we have signed many clients, including a major network radio client (details coming soon). But now that we are beginning to gain some traction in the market, many are asking us what is next to come, and how can we improve our product or service.


We have a long list of capabilities on our technology roadmap, but for the next 90 days, here is what our clients can expect:


Advertising Capabilities: Many developers make the mistake of ASSUMING they know what works, and what is in the best interests of their clients without doing their homework first. Your radio station is in the business of growing audience and ultimately selling to that loyal audience. But diluting your product with tacky ads from the onset isn’t in your best interest.
We are tackling this issue from a different perspective; by launching many applications, and studying the user’s behavior inside of those applications. Looking at behaviors such as: what pages do they visit? how long do they land on a page? what features do they select? how often do they press play? how often do they come back to the app? how long is the app in the foreground? etc.


Knowing this information will give us the insight necessary into creating the most effective ad capabilities, while using the premium real estate on the application. We have some crazy cool ideas for sponsorship capabilities that will blow your audiences’ minds, and have them asking, “How did they do that?”


Types of ads can include: start up screen ad, sponsorships, audio/video pre rolls, pop ups, background ads, rotating banners, ads that flip, jump, scroll, and who knows… maybe an ad that may just put dollars in your pocket! 🙂


App Cross Promotion: Very few groups that we work with represent a single station, but rather many stations. We have created a way to launch any application that is in the app store from the existing radio station app, so that you can have each station’s app include one-touch access to launch your other station’s apps. Studies show that with cross promotion, usage can increase across all digital streams by up to 30%… more usage means more dollars.


Take a look at Yahoo’s app properties for example. Every single one of them has one-touch access to other properties that Yahoo owns. And we give you the same capabilities.


We are excited to show you what we have in store. To learn more about how we can help you grow your brand and bottom line, give us a ring at 913-871-6200. And be sure to go into your app store and search for “Mersoft Media Talk Radio” to download a demo application.

Why Radio Doesn’t Make Money on Digital

It’s simple – advertising that’s not relevant!


Pandora has figured out the formula… less commercials, better ads. The days of straight AQH are quickly fading away. Advertisers now care more about 1 person that is willing and able to buy than 100 people who could care less about their advertisement.


It is no wonder that Pandora is the leading advertiser in some local markets. They are using technology to their advantage and offering advertisers the opportunity to reach a very narrow, targeted audience. And advertisers’ dollars are following. As the mobile device knows so much about the user who owns it, you would think that many stations would inquire into the demographic/psycho graphic information behind these users; but this is not the case for the most part. Most stations simply view the digital component as another way to increase their AQH and basic demographic info such as 25-54, male, Caucasian, and with an income over 100k.


It’s no wonder that pure-plays are stealing audiences and ad dollars… but there is a solution for stations across the county…


Offer fewer commercials digitally, and use that time for more content. In terms of advertising, pick a system that provides you with the data behind the users of your digital products, and begin to use it to your advantage. You can now say, “this ad will run to people 25-54, male, Caucasian, an income over 100k, in this zip code, that has a family of four, and drives a Chevy.” An automobile dealer will gladly pay much more to reach this person. It is very targeted. And at the same time a separate commercial could target a woman’s demographic. This is the nature of digital targeted advertising that over-the-air spots can not do.


Understanding your audience is key in keeping them engaged. Comment below with some of your thoughts on the nature of targeted advertising.



Sports Talk Radio Continues To Prosper

RadioInk just completed its Sports Radio Conference out in San Diego, in which I was in attendance. Aside from being able to talk sports with these owners and GM’s, valuable insight was provided into understanding this format and ways to continue to grow sports talk radio nationwide.


Here are five key highlights that I took from this year’s show:

1. Content still remains king.

As a format that is best known for providing some of the most unique content, this still remains the most important factor in keeping listeners. The ability to manage your on-air talent, allowing them to have an opinion, while being entertaining is still what makes the best of stations stand apart from the rest.


2. Be Everywhere.

The ability to access content 24/7 from anywhere in the world is unlike any other time in history. People are busy individuals (or so they think) and feel that they should be able to access content on-demand. The ability to seamlessly provide this content to them on every platform is of the utmost importance.


3. Standout from the crowd.

Not only should your audio content standout to attract/keep listeners, so should the platforms that you are on stand out. Basic apps, boring websites, bad quality videos, etc are a sure fire way to lose an audience. Says Edison Research President, Larry Rosin, “people want apps that do so much more than simply stream. They want apps that do really cool things.”


4. Cross-Promotion

Pretty self explanatory. But if you are a cluster with a 3 or 4 stations, that importance to promote your other stations on-air or on various platforms can do wonders for driving traffic.


5. Go Mobile

This is piggy-backing off of point #2, but can not be overstated. Traffic, listening, and audience behaviors are quickly moving to digital mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets).

Mobile devices are rewiring behavior extremely quickly and you need a complete plan to stay competitive in that environment; especially to remain viable among younger fans.


To read the full Infinite Dial Sports Talk Edition, click here.