The scene: The Ad Age Digital Conference last week
Bob Pittman to radio: “Be wherever listeners are with the products and services they expect."
Fred Jacobs to Bob Pittman: “Good point and it's great to hear a top broadcaster say this. But we’d better first figure out where our listeners are and what it is they want.”
And with that, we’re wrapping up the field work on our Techsurvey 7. Now I realize that the industry is inundated with research studies, all designed to provide timely information about media and technology usage. And Edison’s “Infinite Dial” series, the most recent of which was presented just last week has done a great job of tracking the nation’s tastes and habits. In fact, Pittman referred to it in his talk at the aforementioned conference.
Our survey asks many of the same questions. But there are two key differences.
First, we’re talking to the radio audience. In fact, because the lion’s share of our 20,000+ sample comes from radio station email databases, we’re doing a deep dive on radio’s most important customers.
These are the people who are fans of radio – the kind that Pittman is talking about. They are consumers who have traditionally listened to radio but are sampling many of the other offerings at the digital smorgasbord. Learning what they're doing is crucial in the quest to better transition radio.
As Arbitron will tell you, PPM is driven by that same core 30% of the audience that contributes in the neighborhood of 70% of listening. To understand that core group and to better serve them is at the heart of our annual research initiative.
While radio has a myriad of challenges, Mission #1 is to gain an understanding of what the audience is doing right now – and where they will be headed in the future. That’s how you put together a viable game plan to assess how your audience is accessing content today while anticipating what's coming down the road.
But the other element has to do with relationships. Techsurvey 7 isn’t just about whether they own a smartphone, subscribe to satellite radio, or determining how many hours a day they spend on the Internet.
It is also about engagement with our brands, and this year’s survey explores the how’s, why’s, and where’s that define how radio connects with its fluid audience. Do they want to “like” our Facebook page, have a texting relationship with the station, and follow our DJs on Twitter? We cannot connect with the audience unless we first understand where they are, what they want, and how our brands integrate with their lives.
It’s this research that motivated us to build jacAPPS, radio’s largest creator of smartphone apps. And why we’ve recently hired social media strategist Lori Lewis to help provide guidance and clarity to this space.
Pittman is a breath of fresh air at Clear Channel – a company that has traditionally taken a top-down attitude toward consumers. As he well knows, it is no longer about what’s good for us – it’s about what’s good for the customer. Until radio focuses on that priority, it will be out of sync with companies like Google, Pandora, Apple, Groupon, and Amazon – our new competitors.
We look forward to presenting Techsurvey 7 early next month, and we hope Mr. Pittman tunes in to see the data for himself.
P.S. Today, Paul and I are at RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas. I'll be speaking on mobile, and we'll both be tweeting from the event. Join us on Twitter. @fnjacobs @pauljacobsmedia