Successful Promotions

I was just reading MediaGuardian where there was an article about the ratings perfomance of new improvised sitcom, Outnumbered. Apparently it did quite well. However, I was completely unaware of the series’ existence.

It made me think that perhaps i’m not the most easy person to reach anymore? I don’t watch a huge amount of telly, but it’s not insubstantial – I probably consume about 12 hours a week. I have however got a PVR and Freeview which makes my live television consumption relatively small. This means that I skip the adverts, naturally, but also skip many of the promos too. I select the (live) TV shows I watch by scrolling through the EPG and stoppping on stuff I recognise. So, even if i’d seen Outnumbered listed I would probably not have stopped anyway.

Multi-channel TV has generally got away from expensive marketing as they use free media on their own channels to promote new shows. Nowadays, due to the rise of the PVR, the relevance of this is less and less impactful and channels will have to work harder, in new ways, to promote their content to viewers.

Outnumbered, for instance, doesn’t even seem to have a website and doesn’t even merit much of an appearance on bbc.co.uk/comedy. Is one of the reasons many new shows seem to fail is that the TV channels aren’t doing enough to encoruage ‘trial’ of new programmes?

How Passionate Are Your Listeners, Users and Consumers?

If you’re an early Chris Moyles listener, you’ll know that they have an opening song every morning. One of their listeners has created an aninmation to match it and has put it on YouTube…

It’s a great example of an enthusiastic consumer deeply interacting with what an organisation does. It works as great marketing because it’s high quality and independent. A third-party endorsement of this type is surely the best around? It shows new listeners that someone cares about the product so much that they’ve produced something of their own to support it. The internet then fans the flames to promote it further – being searchable, embeddable and accessible it can be easily found by others.

The show itself also encourages third parties to make things. It mentioned this video on-air, it put it on the blog, in a post that encourages others to do the same. Also, probably more importantly it created some content that was easily remixable in the first place – the song itself.

If you’re keen to get more people to appreciate what you do, do you do enough to help them interact with your content and then highlight their work?

Digital Listening Statistics

Trusting statistics is a hard thing to do. When they’re good, they’re the truth. When they’re bad, the sample is obviously too small.

My area is radio and new media and I spend a decent proportion of my time with radio clients who I help think about things that affect their businesses. It’s genuinely fascinating work and the insight you get into individual issues really helps you when thinking through other problems too. It also means that we often look at measurements to judge people’s success.

The radio industry’s having a tough old time at the moment it’s been constantly told that it’s about to expire since it began! In reality over 90% of the country listen to the radio for around 24 hours a week, which generates a billion hours of consumption. Really, these are the kind of figures that other media would die to have.

Radio as a medium is fairly well counted. It gets its audience figures quarterly from a body owned by the BBC and Commercial Radio – RAJAR. I believe it is Europe’s biggest consumer survey, interviewing over 130,000 of them every year. For radio stations there are two key figures – Reach (how many people tune into your station in total over a week) and Share (if you take all of the listening in hours in an area, share is what percentage of them are for an individual station). For commercial broadcasters share (and the ‘hours’ that it comes from) is important as that’s the figure that the station uses to sell advertising.

In the recent RAJAR results there was some discussion about Capital drifting below Kiss in terms of share. In fact the top stations (by share) in London were:

1. BBC Radio 4
2. Any Other Station
3. BBC Radio 2
4. Heart
5. Magic
6. BBC Radio 1
7. BBC Radio FIVE LIVE
8. Kiss Network
9. Classic FM
10. Capital 95.8
11. Virgin Radio
12. LBC 97.3
13. talkSPORT
14. XFM
15. Gold
16. Choice
17. BBC Radio 3
18. Sunrise Radio
19. BBC London 94.9
20. Smooth Radio
21. BBC World Service
22. Club Asia 963+972AM
23. LBC News 1152
24. Premier Christian Radio
35. BBC7
26. theJazz
27. BBC 6 Music
28. FIVE LIVE SPORTS EXTRA
29. 1Xtra from the BBC
30. Planet Rock

Normally ‘Any Other Station’ gets removed from charts, but I think it’s useful to have to indicate there’s a lot of listening to non-traditional stations – things like pirates, internet, community radio etc that have chosen not to pay to have their audience measured.

Part of the reason that Capital is seemingly always up for a bit of a kick-in, is that it’s the heritage station in the market and used to be number one. Something that was pretty easy to be when there wasn’t that much competition! Over the years Capital’s audience shrinkage has been large – look at this chart at Media UK. In fact you can look at pretty much any ‘heritage ILR’ station and it follows the same curve. Why? Well, there’s much more competition from other stations on FM as well as other platforms like online, digital television and DAB Digital Radio.

The prevalence of these platforms has in itself become a bit of challenge for radio broadcasters. They want to be available to as many people as possible so they now get their signal to as many different platforms as possible, be that FM, DAB, Sky, Cable, Freeview, IPTV, Internet etc. The cost of this, of course, adds up. Stations have to pay all of the different operators to broadcast or for the internet bandwidth to broadcast. Whilst operators know that they’ve got listeners on all of these different platforms, it’s been hard to judge how many are where and for how long.

RAJAR has been doing a large amount of work on this over the past few years and there’s been some figures confidentially given to stations with regards to platform breakdowns. This quarter, however, the questions have been asked on a much wider level and for the first time stations have been able to get breakdowns for DAB, Digital Television, Internet and AM/FM as well as the more regular ‘all’ figure. There’s also a large ‘don’t know’ figure of around 20% – these are listeners who aren’t sure how they’re listening to something.

The figures are important as it will guide operators about which platforms they should be on as well as which ones they should promote. Remember the important figures are Reach and Share. Reach is good as it shows the percentage of people who tune into the station and Share’s good as it shows consumption of what you do.

Many stations work hard to generate trial of their service by consumers, this then becomes Reach and they work harder to get these new listeners to stay tuned longer which helps hours consumed and thus total Share. It’s always been thought that being on digital platforms helps Reach because appearing in an EPG or on an internet portal will make a station more front of mind and encourage people to tune in.

Looking at London, 92.3% of Londoners tune into the radio each week, 14.9% of people listen to the radio through a DAB Digital Radio set, 9.3% listen on digital television and 6.5% listen to stations on the internet. I think these are interesting figures, I think it’s quite strong for DAB and surprisingly low for the internet. I also expected DTV to do slightly better on Reach. Where I did expect DTV to be low was in hours consumed. My thinking was that there’s lots of competition for use of the television so whilst people might tune in they wouldn’t necessary for very long.

To think about digital consumption I looked at the hours listened ascribed to the different platforms. In London it turns out that 61.5% is analogue share, DAB has 8.3%, DTV 2.2% and Internet 1.9%, the remainder is ‘unknown’ – meaning listeners weren’t sure how they were listening to something.

When comparing these Share figures with the Reach ones it shows that the digital platforms are starting to be used in people’s homes, but it’s not being consumed on these platforms for all of their listening. For example I might listen to DAB in my bedroom, a bit of DTV in the lounge but then a large chunk of listening at work on an FM radio. Saying that though, I still think 8.3% is a great result for DAB (and there’s probably a chunk of unknown that should be attributed to it too).

I thought it might be interesting to look at that Share chart above, but only from the consumption on the digital platforms to see what might pop up. The top 11 for DAB listening share (in London) looks like this:

1. BBC Radio 4
2. BBC Radio 2
3. BBC Radio FIVE LIVE
4. Heart
5. Classic FM
6. Any Other Station
7. Choice
8. Capital 95.8
9. BBC7
10. BBC Radio 1
11. theJazz

What does this show? Well, I think it tallies with our understanding that DAB is ABC1 and a bit older than standard listening. But I think it also shows what happens when your remove broadcast inequalities from stations.

Choice in London has always suffered from a poor FM signal, and I remember in my old GCap days looking at how it did against Kiss in postcode sectors where you could actually hear it – and it tended to be neck and neck with the station, something that was rarely reflected in their official London-wide RAJAR. These DAB figures I think indicates a massive latent demand for the station and as DAB take-up increases we’ll see Choice climbing up in the ratings. If I was Choice I would be promoting DAB like crazy, but off-air, as they’re likely to disproportionately benefit from these new listeners.

The chart also shows how hampered Five Live is on AM and also the possible future success of some digital-only formats. BBC7 is doing exceptionally well but also theJazz, for a new station, has done a great job too. One caution with theJazz is, I imagine, some London listeners who are tuned to Smooth FM (the old Jazz FM) ticking theJazz’s box.

The figures for DTV tell a different story, the top 11 (for Share in London) are as follows, perhaps showing that DTV is somewhat younger and more down-market:

1. Kiss Network
2. Magic
3. BBC Radio 1
4. The Hits
5. BBC Radio 4
6. Heart
7. 1Xtra from the BBC
8. Virgin Radio
9. BBC Radio 2
10. Kerrang!
11. BBC Radio FIVE LIVE

I think it’s interesting to see well-known brands appearing in this chart – much more well known than the equivalent DAB one above. Kiss, Magic, Hits, Kerrang are of course all music TV stations on the DTV platform, the others in the chart are BBC’s or a strong brand like Virgin Radio.

The other thing this new data shows is which platforms are providing the most hours to an individual station. For the stations that have good DAB and DTV coverage, it is generally the DAB that’s providing the bulk of the hours. The Internet is the lowest provider of hours for most stations, but the chart below shows which stations have the internet as a higher part of the listening mix. The top ten (in London by Share) are:

1. Chill
2. BBC 6 Music
3. The Arrow (UK)
4. Total Kerrang!
5. Smash Hits Radio
6. Q
7. Mojo Radio
8. The Hits
9. BBC7
10. Virgin Radio Groove

Perhaps unsurprising it is the non-analogue younger and more male skewed stations that have strong internet consumption.

In summary, what does this all tell us? Well, I think it’s still early days and the figures aren’t yet representative of the population as a whole as they include the biases that the platforms themselves have demographically. What I think it does show is that DAB is shaping up to be the ‘replacement’ for the majority of radio consumption and digital TV is great for a brand extension, but I’m not sure about how successful it will be delivering audiences alone. It also shows that internet broadcasting isn’t the place to be if you want strong hours. If you ignore the fact there’s a massive amount of choice for listeners and just concentrate on total listening to everything online by listeners in London, its reach is only at 6.5%. It would be interesting to have a look at other UK locations, where there isn’t the choice on DAB and other platforms to see if online is stronger there, but at the moment it’s not the place to build a business.

This is also the first time that the results have been released and experience has shown that the best ways to look at RAJAR is to see the trends over a number of quarters rather than look a fixed numbers. That’s the real way we’ll be able to see how digital listening is changing media consumption.

The audience data used here is within the Capital 95.8 TSA in London, 3 months ending June 2007 and is Copyright 2007 RAJAR

Superbad

I’ve just been to see Superbad, a new movie that’s out September 14th. When I read the premise ‘coming of age teen comedy’ – I wasn’t particulary looking forward to it. It is however, excellent. A new twist on an age old format, with some excellent performances especially from newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Arrested Development’s Michael Cera. When it’s out – go see it!

Edinburgh Festival Guide

I haven’t really had a chance to write-up our quick visit to the Edinburgh Festival, though there’s a couple of our video reviews on YouTube.

The top things we saw were probably Simon Amstell, Lee and Herring (separately), Book Club and Kirsten O’Brien. The best thing about Edinburgh is the rushing about, seeing things that sound good but are actually a bit rubbish (yes, All Daily Mail Writers Should Die, i’m looking at you) and having a bit of a laugh whilst doing it.

If you haven’t been before I’d definitely recommend it. You will spend a fortune, as show’s are usually around £10, and really it’s bad form if you don’t manage at least three a day (we were averaging about five). What is surprising is how quickly you can see the themes that are running through entertainment and comedy and are likely to be prevalent for the next six months to a year.

Booking your key shows in advance is recently important. You should leave spaces though as just being on the ground you’ll pick up buzz about other people to see. As soon as you think you might want to see someone book it on the phone, online, or in the morning at a venue – things sell out fast – so be quick! Don’t dawdle – you’ll regret it later.

New BBC Radio Logos

New BBC Radio Logos

I think Radio 2 and Five Live (5 Live?) lucked out in the logo department here, harking back to the 70s and 80s respectively. I quite like the BBC7 (BBC Radio 7?) smile, though as Media Guardian points out, it does look a bit like a knee. The Asian Network gets a nice refresh and will help its positioning as a more contemporary network.

Very little changes for Radio 1 and 1Xtra as they just get a slopey bit on the top of the 1. Perhaps someone will be sent out with tipex to fix the branding, rather than order some new expensive stuff…

Digital Transitions

I was reading the, rather excellent, Infinite Dial blog last night and it made me smile. Over in the States they’re having some trouble with their version of digital radio, HD Radio. Unlike DAB in the UK, HD Radio basically allows them to squeeze a digital version of the station and usually an extra station within the FM frequency. So an analogue listener gets their station and a digital listener gets the same station and another one in ‘digital’ quality. It also stops any more of that pesky competition sneaking in.

The article talks about the problems that they face in pushing this new technology, especially when there’s well marketed Satellite Radio to compete with. The problems they’re facing – set prices, reception and retail interest – is something that we’ve faced in the UK as we started to roll out DAB Digital Radio. The key way we overcame this was:

Helping to get the prices down

1. Before a manufacturer could build a DAB radio they needed to buy a ‘chipset’ off a manufacturer. This chipset cost quite a lot, so when everything else was factored in, it made the radio expensive. Therefore, you need to get the price of the chipset down. Digital One invested around a million quid into chipset design (with a chipset manufacturer). This spurred them on to make a cheap chipset, Digital One then got a cut of every chipset sold. Result! It didn’t actually cost them a lot of money, and it produced a new (non-traditional) revenue stream. It also kicked the other chipset manufacturers into competing with this new release – the market takes over – Bingo! Mission accomplished.

2. The industry really wanted a £99 digital radio, but the volumes required to do this scared off the manufacturers. The UK radio industry therefore underwrote the first batch of radios. They were more confident than the manufacturer that they could be sold! The radio came out, was a huge success (the Evoke-1 is now the world’s best selling radio) and the money was never needed.

Retailers

Electronics retailers aren’t exactly known for their insight and enthusiasm for anything. The bosses, however, are obsessed with data, it influences all of their buying decisions. Manufacturers are also keen to jump on any trend. The radio industry formed the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) to help with this. They employed experts on retail and manufacturing to help sell the story of digital radio. Using case studies like the Evoke 1 above, market trend information and their own commissioned research they started selling the story to the naysayers.

This was all backed up with an ‘airtime’ bank donated by the radio groups. It would support manufacturers/retailers who supported digital radio. The lure of free publicity attracted some new players, they were turned into case studies and then the DRDB pushed again at more partners. For example, the main reason Sony came on board was that they saw the Evoke eating into their UK radio sales, with more information from the DRDB they had the tools to make decisions about how (and why) to enter the UK market.

Reception (from the building and from the staff)

Big metal sheds aren’t the best locations to pick up any radio signals. Sky TV get into all those stores because they hook them all up for free and the salesmen make extra money on the commission. There’s an incentive for them to sell. UK digital radio learned this (the hard way after being ignored). They engaged the staff directly. They turned up at all the multiples’ big training days and conferences teaching the staff about the benefits of digital radio and helped them with answers to the types of questions customers were asking. They also started a monthly prize draw for staff at any retailer across the country.

When any staff had made a sale they could enter a draw to win prizes. Yep, there was all the typical stuff, money, electronics etc, but they also used the radio industry relationships too. Things like meet and greets with pop stars, backstage tickets, visits to radio stations, even presenting your own show on a digital radio station too. It served to get them excited about DAB. They wanted to have more chances of entering, so the staff themselves helped fixing some of the niggles in-store.

Picking up signals in buildings has been a tougher nut to crack, but the UK industry has just got a fix for that too. In the same way Sky is hooking up stores, retailers are now being offered the chance of having an ‘instore repeater’ to boost signals in a building. The encouragement is also coming from research – when listeners can hear digital radio in-store it can increase sales by up to 50% – that’s an incentive for the retailers to jump on board.

All this activity is annoying and time consuming and not very radio at all. I was stuck at the Motor Show one year showing customers, but more importantly car manufacturers, about DAB in-car and the benefits etc. But it’s all incredibly necessary. If you really believe in the product – like UK radio has with DAB – you have to be willing to go the extra mile to persuade others to get involved too.

The UK’s DAB success (currently 5m sets sold) only started when we truly worked hard engaging with other sectors. Unfortunately we only realised this three years after we started broadcasting stations! If HD Radio wants to be a success, the US radio industry will need to work much harder with retailers and manufacturers to make it happen. Because without them on board, you’re wasting your time talking to the listeners.