The strategies of “radio” pure plays aren’t a mystery. In fact, the CEOs of the biggest streaming brands are telling us exactly what moves they intend to make as they march the ball down the media field.
Radio either responds to the challenge, or it faces an inevitable world where new competitors have better presence than these up-and-comers. That may sound hard to believe, but it is beginning to become a reality, thanks to the aggressiveness of companies like Pandora and the myopia of radio broadcasters.
A case in point is the “everywhere strategy.”
Radio bandies about the 94% penetration figure, and points to destinations like mobile apps and 7,000 streams as proof positive that it is ubiquitous.
Well, that’s the competition’s plan, too, and the difference is that they’re not sitting around questioning the value of new or emerging listening locations.
Instead they’re staking them out, and doing everything they can to be wherever consumers want them to be.
Our new Techsurvey8 shows that nearly four in ten of radio’s core listeners listen to streaming radio on a weekly basis or more often. Shouldn’t that get the attention of every honcho, chieftain, and maven in radio?
This Forbes headline from 2011’s CES says it all about Pandora. It’s been their strategy from Day One – and the first paragraph in the article lists out the numerous touch points that Pandora has identified as key avenues of distribution.
I can tell you as someone who moderates a lot of focus groups and L.A.B. sessions, consumers are enjoying these times immensely. Many are pigging out on all the sources, options, and channels they have in front of them. If their desired content is there, great. If not, they’ll go elsewhere.
For some reason, dotcom CEOs understand that we’re in the Wild Wild West of experimentation and hacking our way to a new future. Not every stab, attempt, or initiative is going to be successful. But because none of us know where all this is going, there’s a certain logic in covering the bases.
Spotify’s recent announcement of a new mobile app for their streaming music platform is another case in point. Their VP of product, Charlie Hellman notes that traditional radio listeners are a significant part of their target audience: “We found those that use radio are really some of the most highly engaged users of Spotify. They stay longer and are more likely to upgrade.”
Right now, it’s a fight for real estate in the streaming world. Consumers want to be assured their desired outlets are going to be around. So do the automakers. At Convergence a few weeks back, Toyota’s John Bucci expressed that concern – another reason why they’re placing their bets on brands that have the best chance of displaying staying power.
At CES this past January, Ford’s Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s Director of Global Electrical and Electronics Systems Engineering, talked with us about the future of the dashboard. Like many influential designers and strategists in the auto industry, he sees the future in mobile streams and local content. Below is clip from our interview:
Despite this, we continue to have this conversation in radio about the ROI of streaming – to the industry’s detriment. There are some activities that inherently generate revenue while contributing to the brand. There are other endeavors and investments that simply aren’t going to make money – at least in the near term. Not every strategy and tactic pays off in dollars, whether it is community and charitable events, supporting local schools, sponsoring a neighborhood softball team, or lending a hand when a natural disaster strikes your area. Or streaming, building a Facebook page, setting up a texting platform, or building a mobile app. But if radio is going to continue to promote “everywhere,” the cost of playing is getting higher.
In our new media world, every time there’s an article about how another radio owner or operator isn’t going to stream, is ridding itself of more local talent, or cutting back on investment in content, I have to believe that financial analysts, investors, and yes, broadcast radio’s competition just shakes its head.
Or in the case of Tim Westergren, flashes that million dollar smile.