Six-in-ten ad buyers say they’re more interested in streaming radio than they were a year ago. That’s according to a new survey by STRATA among agencies that use its media buying software. The growing interest in online radio comes as the survey shows just 8% said they’re more excited about over-the-air radio ads than they were last year.


That’s the lowest figure in the 20 quarters that STRATA has been conducting its surveys. The high point was coming out of the recession — in late-2010 nearly one-in-four agency buyers said they were giving radio a fresh look. Of course dollars and interest are two very different things, with streaming still netting just a fraction of what FM/AM radio bills in a year. “In the advertising industry, the buzz often comes before the pay off,” notes STRATA EVP Joy Baer.


The latest survey shows radio still ranks third behind TV (51%) and digital (35%) for which medium agency clients are most interested in. Just 6% of buyers said radio — the lowest since early 2009. STRATA based its results on a sample of 75 agency media directors and agency executives. It’s not just web radio that’s capturing more interest.


The survey shows web video and social media are not surprisingly brighter features on buyers’ radar. Meanwhile ad agencies are less worried about clients cutting media budgets. It was previously cited as a top concern, but budget cuts have dropped dramatically, with only 8% of agencies calling it their biggest challenge.


It’s all about mobile growth.


That’s according to streaming measurement company Triton Digital, which says mobile was the fastest-growing streaming listening measurement indicator for 2013.


Average active sessions hit approximately 2.8 million during the Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.–7 p.m. daypart in the fourth quarter as year-over-year listening rose 21%, according to Triton. AAS is the average number of listeners, who listened for at least one minute, during the daypart.


In the M–F 6 a.m.–8 p.m. all-streams daypart, mobile average active sessions increased by 41%, while desktop declined by 1%, notes Triton, which says, “The dramatic increases in mobile and in-car listening will only continue to skyrocket the tally as we move forward.”


The audience measurement firm saw “significant” growth, 19% for all streams in all days, in streaming listenership compared to the prior year. In fact, Triton says “it’s been an incredible year for audio as a medium and our industry as a whole.”


This afternoon, Mersoft Media CEO, Ron Sloop and I (Gabe Barnes), sat down and were bouncing ideas back and forth on app ideas and design. The discussion eventually shifted into what we think the future holds for the mobile app business in the radio industry. In doing so, we came to a bit of what could be a scary future for local radio stations.

Before I tell you what we see happening, let me first say this. I have always grown up listening to the radio, but only now, once I have jumped into the industry of tech consulting and app development for radio and media companies did I really begin to appreciate what radio means, and does for our society. But with my research into the trends and changes of radio, I see businesses spring up that are attempting to eliminate traditional, terrestrial radio listening.

Now back to my original point!

Meet Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tunein, as well as the other internet-only streaming providers. Little do people know, the leaders or CEOs of these companies have their experience in technology… not radio! Their interests are enhancing their technology and not the radio stations brand.

These groups have tech geniuses at the helm, who are thinking many years ahead of radio stations in terms of the digital space, and their vision isn’t bright for the local station. Everyone is pitching that you have to get mobile – and you do! But there are ways to go about it, as well as a strategy!

Tunein and Pandora are gaining millions of listeners, and those listeners are obviously in local markets. These Internet-streaming conglomerates are now focusing on pursuing local advertising! Uh oh local radio station, you know what that means? Competition. See this article: Pandora takes aim at local radio advertisers

Stations are getting mobile, giving away their users, and will then have to inevitably compete for advertising sales with the Pandoras and TuneIns of the world for the very eyes and ears that they innocently handed over. Besides, surveys show that people want their own individual stations’ branded app on their phone.

So what will it take for stations to realize that they need to keep their individual branding, and the local presence?

F.U.D – Fear. Uncertainty. Death

I am not trying to scare anyone here, but there will come a time very soon where the big internet-streaming giants will be in your backyard pitching to your very own advertisers for the opportunity to reach your listeners and mobile users! And let me warn you… big companies have big bucks that allow them a ton of flexibility.

So do your homework and research, and think long term. Don’t sell your soul (brand) for short term gain, when the long term consequences spell death! Keep your brand and your P1 followers close. Pandora and the Tuneins aren’t on radio’s side. They consider terrestrial radio to be the enemy. And so goes the adage “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”…why else would they so politely invite you to jump on board with them?


This morning I read a great piece by Inland Press editor, Adolfo Mendez. He interviewed Kerry Oslund, VP of Digital Media at Schurz Communications. Kerry provided great insight and transparency into his groups’ mobile application experiences.


We think that every media company – Radio, Television, and Publishers – should read this and take it to heart. Let me highlight a few quotes and points from Kerry Oslund here from the article:

  • “We knew we had to get into the mobile space in a bigger way, and part of the subsector of the mobile space is apps.”
  • Once apps are developed, media companies need to be ready to maintain, repair and upgrade them, he said. “Now we’re in the support business as well because we developed an app,” he said. “If it breaks in the middle of the night, we fix it in the middle of the night.”
  • For Schurz, potential business (app developer) partners are evaluated on the basis of what kind of technical support they can provide, he said. “There is a reason many of us chose vendors sometimes not for the complexity of the technology but for the support that we need,” he said. “When we’re looking at vendors, we try to minimize the technology expense and pay fair value for support.”
  • “The early numbers [of mobile app use] compared to other numbers was small, but the ramp was steep so you couldn’t turn your eyes away from a ramp like that,” he said. “The more you looked at that ramp, the more you realized that this was a trend that didn’t seem to be showing any signs of stopping at all.”
  • For the Herald Times in Bloomington, Ind., the company used its own internal resources to build a mobile presence. “We wouldn’t want to repeat that again and again,” Oslund said. “It would be very expensive to do that.”

Kerry mentioned that last year, 5 percent of their online traffic was mobile traffic, and that he would expect that number has already doubled. From our point of view as a developer of such applications. It is key that our clients be informed of the experiences of their industry colleagues and be able to learn from those experiences to make informed decisions with strategic moves.


My call to all media groups is this: Be a fantastic feed-provisioner. Have a great tech team that knows how to format feeds.


To read the full article, click here.