Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.
Back around the holidays, we posted a video about the story of Christ, digital style.
Wouldn’t you know it, the same basic idea has been created by the aish.com, and it’s a clever video that integrates the Passover story with some hi-tech effects.
The “Google Exodus,” however, isn’t just entertaining; it also is a statement about how our lives have changed in just the past decade by the influx of digital media.
Enjoy your matzohs and “let my podcasts go.”
Many years ago, I received some advice from a mentor that I have always cherished. He told me that at the end of each year, it’s a great time to take your “career inventory” by asking yourself some key questions:
“In the past 12 months, did you learn new skills, were you challenged, did you grow in your job, did you develop as a professional, and did you bring anything new to your current place of employ?”
And he went on to counsel that if you have trouble answering “yes” to these questions and/or you're at a loss to quickly think of good examples, you may be in a career cul-de-sac.
Now I totally understand that for many over the past couple of tough economic years, a goal has been to preserve wealth, maintain one's job, and simply stay intact. But even if "maintenance" is paramount for you, it doesn't mean you have to stagnate in your current job.
So, as we head into a new year and a media business that is going through more gyrations since Gutenberg invented the printing press, this is a great time to assess, reevaluate, and plan ahead for a strong 2011 - even if you're feeling a little stuck in your job.
That’s a healthy to-do list for 2011. And I’m sure I’m missing some important things, but hopefully, this post will spur some ideas and thoughts for how you can make this coming year better for you, your family, and those around you.
Getting through a difficult recession and media tsunami has been challenging for everyone, from the entry level to the corner office. But I predict that despite the speed bumps and often daunting missions we all face. we will look back on this era as a time when innovation, risk-taking, and stretching one's boundaries were very much a part of the mix.
We look forward to exchanging ideas via this blog with you in 2011, and wish you and yours a great new year.
Thanks to Tom Bender, who truly combines the best of digital and devotional, for sending me this video:
And we’ll be back on Monday with more “Best of JacoBLOG.”
The Consumer Electronics Association recently released a timely study that predicts the hottest holiday gifts – and no surprise, it points to electronics and gadgets. Their 17th annual Holiday Purchase Patterns study comprised of 1,000+ adults indicates that one-third of all shoppers will make a consumer electronics purchase during the holiday season, averaging $232.
That’s a lot of gadgets, and it’s a chance for radio to share in the holiday joy.
First, stations should be working with local retailers to put together promotions now. Smaller outfits that hope to out-hustle and out-service Best Buy, Target, and Walmart are great candidates. Remember the days when morning shows would “test drive” a different gadget everyday? Now with the help of webcams and video podcasts, personalities can showcase some of the hottest new toys. Facebook and Twitter are also great tools to generate recommendations for stores and their electronic toys.
Second, gadgets make great contest fodder and they can be inexpensive. Walmart has their “Amazing Walmart Electronics Event” offering a Vizio 26” HDTV for under $200, while Target now sells the iPhone and is cutting prices on the iPod Touch. Contests where listeners can “Pick A Gadget” can be economical, while driving lots of website visits and creating tactical listening occasions.
Third, the CEA study indicates that while the desire is in place for a lot of electronics sales, consumers are still very price conscious. There’s another opportunity for stations to offer discounts, and even mobile coupons that listeners can take to local stores to get that all-important price break.
Fourth, it is important to know the gadget hierarchy. And in fact, specifically what people desire this year. Peace and happiness, of course, tops the general holiday wish list for adults, but notebooks/laptops and iPads are next in line. And while family and health are very important, so are eReaders and video game systems. When you look at the CEA's electronics “wish list” on the right, you can see the pecking order that will drive holiday sales this season.
Finally, consumer electronics is a big-time area that has only become more important during the past decade. Gadgets are cool, and people are absolutely focused on them.
Understanding this space is an important component of becoming an expert in media in this new millennium. That’s why it is critical to attend conventions like the CES in Vegas in January as we did last year, and will again in 2011.
Gary has been especially critical of radio’s attempts to push for legislation that would mandate FM chips in cell phones. He has a unique vision of the future and incredible perspective, so we hope you can join us in Baltimore for the Summit.
What’s on your holiday wish list?
The National Retail Federation has just posted a great blog that lists the Top 10 holiday trends in retailing for the year.
As the radio industry tries to finish 2010 on the highest note possible, taking heed of what is happening with retailers in your city or town can translate into dollars and results.
After all, local sales reps need to do more than “sell time.” If all they talk about is rates, their September PPM rankings, and that first quarter trip to Cozumel, they’re not doing the job of helping advertisers solve problems and attain results.
To read the entire “Retail BIG Blog” post, click here.
But to save you a few steps, here are some of the trends that jumped out at us:
#1 Americans (still) aren’t ready to declare an end to the recession. But #2, there’s a glimmer of hope. Slowly, but surely, there are optimistic signs and the NRF sees the pendulum swinging back.
#3 Fundamentals are out. Fun is in. This is an important trend for radio to take right to the streets. According to the NRF, gifts this year will be more fun and exciting, rather than totally focusing on value. Working with advertisers, radio can build promotions that are fun, while engaging retailers and some of their more less serious products or services.
#8 Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. In radio, we are well aware of the differences. In the world of retail, women lean toward gift cards, jewelry, and home décor. For guys, it’s consumer electronics and sporting goods. This is powerful information to help sales reps legitimize the value of your station, and how your audience can best help them be successful during the holiday season. (and from the programming side, this information could be a valuable tie-breaker as you plan late-year contesting and tactical giveaways.)
#10 Can you hear me now? Good. A recent survey conducted for the NRF by BIGresearch shows an interesting finding. At the 11th hour, they added a question about mobile apps and websites. The big takeaway is that one-fourth of smartphones owners say they will use these gadgets for holiday shopping, price comparisons, product research, and to find stores – especially 18-34 year-olds and to a lesser extent, men. As the NRF blog puts it, this “should serve as a clear signal to retailers that this mobile trend is not going away anytime soon.”
This surprised the NRF, but it is no shock to us. Hopefully, you’ll see some key findings in this blog post that can help you and your staff better understand retailing trends so that you can provide more strategic value to your advertisers. Forward it to your sales managers and reps, and here's to a successful Q4 selling season.
Monday, November 01, 2010 in Business, Cell Phones, Current Affairs, CVC, Digital, Holidays, iPhone Apps, Management, Marketing, Marketing To Men, Other Media, Pop Culture, PPM, Radio, Ratings, Research, Sales, Social Networking, Texting, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Yeah, yeah, Christmas music. It's already started. WSMM in South Bend flipped the switch last week (thanks, guys), and before you know it, Brenda Lee, Bing Crosby, and Elmo & Patsy will be all over the radio in every market in the U.S.
For many Rock-formatted stations, this is not the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, it tends to suck. That’s because of all the formats victimized by Christmas music stations, Rock and Classic Rock tend to be the hardest hit. Yes, those often benign AC stations turn into fire breathing reindeer during the last month or two of the year. And the damage can destabilize much of the progress your station has made throughout the year.
You can see this in the Arbitron numbers – intensified in PPM markets – and also in our own data from last year’s Technology Survey VI.
In their recent client conference call, Arbitron shared the cheery news with attendees.
That’s right, while you’re out shopping for the holidays, setting up your winter vacation, and putting together the holiday DJ vacation schedule, that AC station down the dial is doubling its ratings during that all important end of the year period. Now maybe that station is in your cluster so the pain is a bit less. But the bottom line is that in the world of metered measurement, these stations tend to perform even more robustly than they did with paper diaries.
Our web study of more than 26,000 rockers across 78 stations showed the collateral damage that Christmas music produces.
The red brackets tell the story. Last year, these respondents, nearly a quarter of them, tell us they switched to a holiday music station at least half the time in December. For one in ten, Christmas music was most, if not all, of their radio diet. For Classic Rockers, these numbers are even higher.
So a couple of things come to mind…
Because once Black Friday hits, you can see the tsunami coming.
And then there’s your December strategy. If there was a viable “antidote,” you’d have known about it by now. But if you have that great idea – the big charity promotion, your version of “Christmas Wish,” the “X Days of Christmas,” or that shopping spree in the mall – pull out the stops, do something big and bold, and push back with all your great brand’s might. There are some Rock stations that have avoided the deluge, but they are few and far between.
You’re not going to beat the Christmas music station at what they’ve become famous for – wall-to-wall tinsel and that mistletoe vibe – but seeing the numerical reality you’re facing, there’s never been a better time to try something new, different, and hopefully, compelling.
Or just book a great getaway, and get ready to fight the good fight in January.
As the year winds down, and radio takes a breather from its many challenges, and hopefully, most of you do the same, I just wanted to take a moment to thank clients, friends, and readers of this blog. It has indeed been a tough year for just about everyone in this business, whether you've found yourself shockingly on the outside looking in, or whether you're toiling away in less-than-wonderful conditions in the thick of things.
This year has brought many of radio's long-standing problems and vulnerabilities to a head, and has tested us all. For us at Jacobs Media, it's been a learning opportunity, as it's called in Washington, D.C. Our apps business has thrived this year, thanks to the vision and hard work of Tim Davis, Paul Jacobs, our newest hire Scott Holiday, and our entire staff, who have stepped up in a big way.
We are still dedicated to radio and the growth of this venerable industry, but this "NTR" has become an important part of our company's arsenal. It has provided us with an even broader view of the tech world, and it has helped us better envision how radio can continue to morph and adapt to the many challenges ahead.
So thanks again for your support, your input, your encouragement, and your criticism. We will continue to call 'em as we see 'em, and hopefully strike that balance between being constructive but critical; a little fiery without being pedantic; and empathetic but with an occasional burst of frustration about why it can't be better.
We appreciate you taking the ride with us. This blog will be back on Monday the 28th with a few end-of-year entries, and perhaps a "best of" or two as we put the wraps on 2009. And then we'll see you, ready to fight the good fight on Monday, January 4th.
Happy, safe, and peaceful holidays to you all.
The new technology era has been challenging and often frustrating to radio people. Many struggle with ways to integrate different platforms, like mobile and streaming. Others grapple with how to utilize social networking tools, like Facebook or Twitter.
It is somewhat understandable that the radio industry hasn't found those "best practices" that would enable it to take advantage of new digital tools, rather than to be passed by or left behind by new media and technology.
But where it is inexplicable is radio's inability to grasp its eTail potential and its stations' brand equity. I blogged about this last month, wondering (for the fourth consecutive year) why most radio stations - including the biggest and best brands - often don't set up their own logo ware stores, and use the holiday season as an opportunity to utilize their often large databases to make several thousand dollars at this opportune time of the year.
And like many of you, my email box was loaded with great deals, from Apple to Barnes & Noble to the NBA to the Detroit Tigers to my local car dealer. (I have "decorated" this blog with just a few of the tantalizing offers I received.)
But despite belonging to umpteen radio station email clubs, I did not get a single email about a sale on station branded items and related merch. Instead, I received station emails about special programming weekends, and the typical email blast tactics.
Radio continues to let its best brands wallow. While many whine about the lack of outside marketing, most broadcasters aren't utilizing many of their existing assets and tools. Somehow sales and management haven't connected the dots about the power and potential of radio's expansive email databases. To most, those thousands of connections with loyal listeners are simply PD activities, and seemingly have no sales implications.
This is small potatoes in the big picture of radio's need to redefine itself. But it is indicative and telling about the disconnect between the industry and the rest of the world. We continue to sell and market radio like it's 1978.
The digital disconnect continues.
PS. After this blog was written & posted, I received an email from KSEG/Sacramento, urging me to take advantage of their special holiday discount in their "Half Off Sacramento" program. I'm sure there must have been a few others, but they were not in my email box.
And as we have suggested to these very same cluster managers, station owners, and corporate executives, having a cool, online store ready to go for your PPM-plump cume audiences just makes good sense. Besides, it's SO easy to do.
At the risk of my holiday messages sounding strangely redundant (or "The Ghost of Online Shopping Past"), there are a number of online store sites that allow you to create a vast array of T-shirts, hats, mugs, thongs, or pretty much any item that can display your logo. And they're easy for consumers to use. These include:
Our ongoing Tech Polls among both Rock listeners, and now Public Radio fans, continue to support the growth in popularity of online shopping. (Many men would rather shop online than set foot in a store.) In our fifth annual Rock survey, nine in ten respondents shop online at least sometimes, while nearly half use sites like Amazon monthly or more often (44%).
Now a recent research study lists out some of the key reasons why consumers enjoy the online shopping experience. It makes the consumer experience easy.
Let's face it - when your station is on remote or on-site, what's the one question listeners ask?
"Do you guys have any T-shirts?"
Radio continues to be one of the few brand categories where consumers want to display station and personality logos and images - but we make it so difficult for them to do so.
It's counter-intuitive. During a difficult time when marketing dollars are endangered, if not extinct, why do we make it so difficult for listeners to advertise for us?
Sometimes we make it tough for them to be our fans.
Every dollar helps, especially at this time.
And it's Branding 101.
Where is it going? That's always a big topic, and the blogosphere has no shortage of experts and geniuses who will tell you they have the answer to what's ailing radio, and what we'll all be doing in five years.
It's a lot like the stock market. There is the ongoing avalanche of analysts, many of whom have great credentials. But then there's Warren Buffett. Yes, he's had a tough year, but over the long haul, investing in his Berkshire Hathaway has been a pretty good bet.
Google has amassed a pretty solid track record, too. Not all their experiments and projects have paid huge dividends - like radio advertising - but it's tough to argue with their track record.
That's why their recent purchase of AdMob caught my attention. For a mere $750 million in stock, Google now owns another piece of the mobile ad machine.
This is especially noteworthy because it signals another investment in the mobile space for Google. As we have learned at jacAPPS - our mobile application division - there is an abundance of optimism, and it's backed up by industry metrics.
Paul Palmieri, CEO of Millennial Media chimes in with his view: "Today Google validated what many companies including Millennial have thought for years - that mobile is a different market with a huge potential for advertising; possibly a bigger opportunity than online media."
It's interesting that we first started our mobile division, and then actually went to school on this space. My best teacher has been a Finnish consultant, Tomi Ahonen. He now lives in South Korea, and is the author of Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media.
This guy totally "gets" what's happening in mobile, especially in more advanced countries outside the U.S. (as odd as that sounds). It is more than a little interesting that in in other parts of the world, credit cards are becoming rare while more and more consumers are paying for everything with their mobile devices.
This is where the action is. In a recent article, "What Hath Apple Wrought," Inside Digital Media president, Philip Leigh, notes that "outside America, most people connect to the Internet over a mobile device. At 1.2 billion units, worldwide mobile phone sales are about four times those of personal computers."
And it is mobile that has turbo-charged the recent growth in Pandora sign-ups. More than 45,000 of the 65,000 new daily registrations for that Internet radio channel come from its various mobile apps. "Our future is going to be more mobile-centric than I had even thought, and sooner," says Pandora founder Tim Westergren.
Mel Karmazin thinks this Christmas will signal a significant rise in the sales of satellite radio. My money is on mobile gadgets - iPhones, Droids, and the like. With WalMart, (Radio) Shack, BestBuy, and Costco all selling more affordable iPhones and iPod Touch devices, the forecast calls for an even more ubiquitous mobile environment.
We've talked a lot in this space about all you out of work radio folks - or as the NAB nicely refers to you as "free agents." Hopefully, your fortunes will turn in this third half of the year, and you'll be among the employed once again.
But today's post is dedicated to the hard-working professionals who are still at it - 7 days a week, often doing two, three, or more jobs under often difficult conditions. As radio's rank and file plow forward, with share prices low, demands high, their options underwater, and dreams of advancement long on hold, their hard work and dedication is often overlooked.
The industry is often focused on the big headlines affecting radio - PPM, the health of the major broadcasting companies, the performance tax - while often missing some of the real heroes of 2009. This has been a difficult and often discouraging year for many in radio, and the fourth quarter will no doubt be fraught with challenges.
So as we celebrate Labor Day weekend, a hearty thanks to everyone in radio who's fighting the good fight, and showing the greatest dedication of their careers. They are doing it with blood, sweat, tears, and mirrors - and hopefully, they'll have a chance to put down those BlackBerries and iPhones, and kick back to enjoy some much earned time off with friends and families.
Amidst all the other angst, anxiety, and hand-wringing going on in radio at this time, many Rock and Classic Rock stations, in particular, are looking at their fall numbers and wondering what happened?
For long-time Jacobs Media clients, it's no mystery. We've tackled this issue before, in great detail. Six years ago, Ralph Cipolla and I - with the help and data from Arbitron's John Snyder - zeroed in on fall books back in history to determine why so many Rock stations fall in the fall. R&R published the report, which pointed to NFL Football and Christmas music as the obvious culprits.
At the time, the latter theory seemed a bit at odds with many radio pundits who wondered how come a bunch of hard-nosed Rock guys were seemingly captivated by Brenda Lee, Andy Williams, the Singing Dogs, and Elmo & Patsy. But it happens, like clockwork every year. We confirmed it in a Classic Rock web poll. Whether to keep the home fires burning or because they simply love holiday music themselves, Rockers do indeed turn to All-Christmas radio late in the year. A follow-up DMR study confirmed that Classic Rock/Hits stations are especially vulnerable to holiday programming.
Well, now PPM confirms the phenomenon. Teaming up once again with Ralph and John, we've completed a new analysis, based on several PPM markets from this past fall's ratings. This time, fmqb ran with it:
The consultant or programmer who can figure out the "December antidote" will either make some good money or will receive thanks from many frustrated programmers.
But the bigger picture revolves around the way that so many PDs, GMs, and Owners "analyze" fall ratings, and jump to the wrong conclusions. Odds are, your station is as healthy as it was back in September and October. But when it comes to combatting Christmas music, you're fighting a battle that is out of your sweet spot. And in this era of less (or no) audience research, it's easy to point the finger at the music, the morning show, the PD, and anyone else who's responsible for the station's programming. Too many stations tweak the music or make major changes because of the December swoon, only to regret those overreactions later.
It's a new year. The Bing Crosby and Yogi Yorgesson records have been put away until November (OK, maybe Halloween), and cume and quarter-hour numbers should rapidly start returning to normal. Let's focus on having a strong winter book.
The Osgood File. I'm Charles Osgood.
Most meteorological events, including the tropical depressions that become hurricanes, happen independent of what we do or don't do. We can track them, try to forecast them and get out of their way when possible.
Remember, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas"? Well, I have found a document, previously unreleased, that may well be the long-lost Grinch recipe for making a recession, extending a recession, and turning it into a full-blown depression.
With all due respect to the late Dr. Seuss, who gave me a new way to look at the news, I believe I have found an amazing description ... of what seems to be a depression prescription.
It spells out in detail, step by step, inch by inch ... in the tell-tale and Grinchified style of The Grinch ...
What goes into a slump that becomes a recession ... and how to turn that into full-blown depression.
If business falls off, you must not advertise. Oh no, for that would be extremely unwise.
You must pull in your horns and not let people know ... how great are your products when business is slow.
If you let them find out, they might go out and buy. You don't want that to happen, so don't even try to spark any interest in things that you make. This might slow down the slowdown, for heavens' sake.
There once was a saying that you can dismiss.
If I recall, it went something like this:
"Here's the secret of success," I heard someone say, perhaps on CBS,"Early to bed / Early to rise / Work like a dog / and Advertise!"
If you want a recession, remember that verse ... then go out and do exactly the reverse.
If you're a salesman, don't do any selling. Cancel your ads --- they might be too compelling.
If you're a lender, don't lend any money. Wait 'til the skies clear, and everything's sunny.
Creating depression is really a cinch.
That's how you do it ... Yours Truly, The Grinch.
The Osgood File. Transcripts, podcasts and Mp3s of these programs can be found at theosgoodfile.com.
I'm Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.
I've been waiting 8 months to write this blog, but seeing that we could be just a few days away before someone starts playing Christmas music (could all stations agree to at least wait until after the election?), here's my pitch:
Our Tech Poll taken last February was an eye-opener to me on the topic of online sales. Remember, we're talking more than 27,000 interviews in markets big, small, and everything in-between. A number that jumped out at me is that only 9% of the total sample never shops online.
So, looking at the large majority that regularly buys stuff on their computers, 15% shop online weekly, while three in ten do so monthly. And notably, many of the most frequent shoppers are men and 25-54s.
Personally, that makes sense to me, never having been a fan of malls or crowds. And clearly, there are a lot of adult men who concur, and find the ease and convenience of online shopping preferable. If that sounds like the sweet spot of Rock stations, keep reading.
What does this mean to you and your station? With the holidays looming, this is the time to put together that online store, ramp up some great merchandise, and make some money by virtue of your strong brand. Most T-shirts, hats, and other logoware falls in that perfect price range that anyone can afford. As we're fond of saying, the perfect stocking stuffers.
But time is flying. Remember that Cyber Monday has gone from becoming the top e-commerce shopping day to the official start of the holiday season. So, a well-timed email blast that invites your audience to shop on your site can be the catalyst that makes you some serious money this holiday season, while getting your logo all over the market.