As more PPM markets come online, we are all going to learn more about how our stations actually perform. The July PPM data that was just released contains some interesting nuggets. One is that 7% of Arbitron’s PPM panelists do at least some streaming (the lowest that number will ever be), but only a handful of streams made the minimum reporting standards.
What does this tell us about the ways in which terrestrial radio is marketing its streams to its own listeners? As we have been suggesting for a long time now, it is not enough to simply provide a stream. Quality is a key, and we continue to listen to too many streams that are simply technically inadequate. They cut out, they buffer, and they are simply too unreliable. We would not allow our broadcast signals to be this shoddy, so why are so many streams subpar?
Secondly, we need to connect the dots for listeners. To stream is not enough. We need to explain why streaming at work, at home, and in other locations on a computer (or an iPhone, for example) is easy, convenient, and in-sync with other activities. The at-work connection between streaming-PPM-radio continues to be reinforced by the data. PPM favors stations that are rich with full-time, gainfully employed workers. These people are likely to have computer/high-speed access. As we continue to see in our Tech Poll and focus groups, many do not have radios in their workspaces. Ergo, streaming is the best way to reach these valuable listeners during times when it is convenient to listen. But most station promos for streaming fail to seal the deal.
Finally, we have to make it easy. Take a tour of station websites - in your company or outside. How many have buried the "Listen Now" button or just made it difficult to access the stream? I once believed that forcing users to give us an email address in order to stream should be mandatory. I have changed my mind on that one because it is paramount that the streaming experience be a no-brainer.
We are finally getting the data we need to monetize streams, but we're going to have to work hard to build and reinforce this audience. By the way, one of the four streams that made the PPM cut was WBEB/Philadelphia. Owner/operator Jerry Lee just happens to be one of our "Presidents" in our upcoming "The President of Radio" session at this year's Summit in Austin. I bet Jerry will have something to say about streaming and how it can be monetized. Once again, a single owner shows that anyone can lead the way in radio with commitment and the right ideas.