Tweeknotes – 21st to 27th February

Some things that caught my tweet attention this week…

A little while back I’d heard through Piers Morgan’s relentless tweeting that he was going to be on Howard Stern’s Sirius show. I’ve really enjoyed how Piers is building awareness for himself and his new show, so managed to get hold of the audio from the interview. It’s a great listen (though 50-odd minutes long), engaging radio, with a great host and guest. You can listen to it below:


Tweeknotes – 14th to 20th February

So, what have we learned this week? Well, here’s some reminders from looking at my tweet stream.

CRC in Canada continues to make great open source tools for the radio community. Their latest is the source that allows better control of radio in certain Android phones. This means that radio groups (and others) can build apps that connect to FM radio, where available – meaning bandwidth savings for listeners as they don’t need to listen to radio over the mobile network.

Later in the week, at the EBU’s digital radio conference, Global Radio’s Nick Piggott carried on the theme and talked about the need (PDF) for the radio industry to better engage with mobile phone device manufacturers to ensure there are simple, open APIs to connect to the radio functionality to allow us to create a better experience for listeners. A campaign worth support.

This week Bern Leckie questions the placement of The Breeze’s new outdoor campaign.

RAIN’s published a good round-up of the details of Pandora’s IPO which has released some interesting numbers about the service, including the fact they have a userbase of 80m, 30m of which use it weekly. James has recently posted about whether Pandora should be regarded as radio or not and perhaps that we should reclaim the word ‘radio’ from these music services.

Back at the EBU Digital Radio Conference, I spoke  about the development of commercial digital stations in UK radio. Digital is at different points across Europe and tends to be led by the public service broadcasters. You can watch the presentation, basically me slightly bumbling and then gradually warming up here. It was a good conference to be at, especially seeing what’s happening in Switzerland and Germany. All the presentations are online in presentation and video form here.

Good to see the BBC linking out to commercial broadcasters‘ on-demand offering on the iPlayer (see a search for Dancing on Ice). I’ve inquired in the past about doing the same thing for radio and was told that this would be covered in the new RadioPlayer, which indeed the new universal search will cope with. It is, however, a subtly different proposition and will no doubt ensure that the BBC won’t need to link out to commercial services near their own online radio output. It prompted me to write a bit about the work we’re doing with data.

A new national station’s coming to Digital One, it seems, with a test label of Karma, but what could it mean? Also, good to see a launch date of August this year for Germany’s new national commercial multiplex.

Success From Data

I spend more and more of my time with data. And I love it.

Being clever and efficient is much easier if your content and any inputs/outputs of your business are structured and well described.

What does that mean? Well, I think anything that you create should be able to be used multiple times for lots of different things. If you’re a radio station you want an action, say the playing a song, to kick off a load of other things. Maybe update the website, show a link to buy tickets, show a picture of the artist, reconfigure the most played list, update an iPhone app, tell an engineer that your playout machine is still up, add a line of detail to your PRS report etc etc. This can only happen if your data is in a fit state so that other systems know what to do with it AND that it doesn’t randomly change.

I was reminded of data partly because of a new innovation in the BBC’s iPlayer. They’re now linking out to the on-demand sections of ITV, C4, C5 and other broadcasters when you do a search in iPlayer it now shows programmes from ‘other providers’.  This can only happen because the broadcasters have made their libraries of content available so iPlayer can ingest them and make searches like that work.

At the moment we’re knee-deep in UK Radio Player bits and pieces. We’re going to be providing pop-up players and power the search for a number of radio stations. But to do this we need stations to get their data in a fit state. This means good now playing information, an up to date schedule, content about on-demand items (like an interview) as well as detailed data about listen again. For many stations it’s going to be a massive change to how they work.

Why bother? Well, the benefits are potentially huge. If you’ve got Robbie Williams coming on your radio station and RadioPlayer knows about it, then a search for Robbie will highlight that. After he’s been on, make sure you’re Listen Again mentions that he popped in and that will show up as well. Chop up the interview into an on-demand piece of content, describe what he talks about and then up he’ll appear in searches for Robbie Williams, Take That and Portvale FC. This could mean more awareness for your radio station, more reach and maybe additional revenue from pre-rolls. But it only works if your data is in a fit state.

We’re spending our time building tools to make all of this easier and help you along the way. Already RadioBase takes Now Playing information and ‘harmonises’ it for spellings or odd station-specific information eg Destiny’s Child (Breakfast Edit) all gets ‘fixed’. We’ll be deploying further tools to cope with schedules and on-demand audio as well as linking your data to other interesting things – artist imagery etc that you can use all over the place.

In the meantime, have you thought about tiding up your data to get ready for these changes? What state is Selector in? Are all the artists correctly coded, is the CapITAlisatioN right? Is your playout configured so that internal data isn’t published? Is your schedule in a database that can power lots of systems? Is there anything that keeps track of where that interview is? What can you start fixing tomorrow?

In the new world, being competitive is going to mean more than just playing the right songs, it’s going to mean making sure that you’re extracting every bit of value out of every little thing that you do. It also means making sure that everyone at your station knows the value of all of this too and how they can adapt what they do to make their work even more valuable.

Tweeknotes – 7th to 13th February

I love the idea of weeknotes, blog posts that talk about what you’ve been up to in the week. I’m never focused enough to write them though. As i’ve passed a twitter milestone – 5,000 tweets – I thought that using my tweets might mean a more interesting chronology of my week. Instead of ‘this is what i’ve been up working on’, it probably says ‘this is what i’ve been thinking about’ – which hopefully might be more interesting. Anyway, lets have a go.

Superbowl Sunday and there were loads of different adverts. I liked Chevrolet’s handiwork which combined their messaging with a mini-episode of Glee, seemingly made by (and with) the Glee people. It’s good promotion of the show and bright advertising. The American communications regulator, the FCC, also seemingly made a joke about the Superbowl the next day:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/FCC/status/34665577905659904″]

The sale of the Huffington Post produced a good tweet from Robert Peston:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/Peston/status/34666638355734528″]

A couple of fun social media-y mash-ups. One from the Times that analyzes your tweets to see how wordy you are, and a LinkedIn mash-up that shows the popularity of your work colleagues. I also blogged on the need to market any innovations that you create.

A surprise from the BBC Trust this week as they (after a little lobbying by us) announced that the BBC Management should “speedily” negotiate with third parties to get their kids content on other stations. At Fun Kids, I was also impressed with the video content that our partnership with Filmclub is generating.

Moz at talkSPORT announced that Richard Keys and Andy Gray are moving to the station, prompting one Guardian commenter to suggest they’ve moved “From HD to AM in one fell swoop!”

Another blog post from me, this time a call for radio companies to publish App stats. So far only Absolute have indicated some agreement – silence from the rest, which I think is a shame.

Sam Bailey tweeted an old Radio 1 TV advert, which is seemingly the most complicated way, ever, to talk about a new schedule.

Jason Kottke posted a link to an interesting radio iPhone App that looks at your music library and tells you about new music you’d like, but don’t have. This is something that should really be in a radio app. It flagged up to me that we’re not really doing much that trades on our relationship with listeners to give them new content associated with what we do.

Then, after wondering what my 5,000 tweet should be, I promptly forgot and re-tweeted Brett Spencer promoting the fact that i’m on this week’s Radio Academy podcast. Self-promotion rather than meaningful content – maybe a perfect twitter analogy!

Radio App Stats. What does it all mean?

My inbox has just pinged with news from the Global Radio bunker. It says…

*first commercial station to break through million single-platform downloads*

Global Radio, the UK’s largest commercial radio group, has revealed that its Capital FM mobile application was downloaded for the millionth time yesterday by iPhone and iPad users across the UK.

Capital FM has seen a massive jump in downloads recently as the brand launched as a network across the UK on 95 – 106 FM on 3rd January, making it the most popular free music iPhone app in the UK*. In the first month of 2011, over 30% of the total number of Apple applications were downloaded.

This announcement also coincides with the star-studded national TV advertising campaign for Capital FM which features some of the world’s biggest artists including Rihanna, The Black Eyed Peas, Tinie Tempah and Usher.

Richard Park, Director of Broadcasting at Global Radio said: “This is testament to the power of the new Capital network! We’re delighted that a million people are now listening to the best in hit music on Capital via their iPhones and iPads.”

*Source: iTunes App Store

The problem with lots of the data in the release, is that it doesn’t make much sense.

So, the claims:

1. First commercial station to break through million single-platform downloads

Really? Might be true, might not be. No one publishes this data and I don’t think Apple hand it out.

2. “downloaded for the millionth time yesterday by… users across the UK”

It’s a good distinction to make, I bet there’s additionally lots of overseas downloads. You can often see UK radio apps appear in other country’s charts.

3. “making it the most popular free music iPhone app in the UK*”

Well, if you get to number one in the iTunes chart, that’s a perfectly good claim to make. We don’t, of course, know how the chart works. It’s not ‘the most downloads now’ because the iTunes chart partly work on momentum.

4. “In the first month of 2011, over 30% of the total number of Apple applications were downloaded”

I don’t really know what this means. I’m assuming that it means that 300k of the 1m downloads happened since all the Galaxies/HMN stations re-branded in Jan. This is a lot, over a quick period of time, though 700k was amassed over the previous two years.

I think what it does certainly show is the power of a big brand that can cheaply market.

5. “We’re delighted that a million people are now listening to the best in hit music on Capital via their iPhones and iPads”

Well, we do know that this one isn’t true. If all downloaders were listeners you would have an insane app conversion rate.

Generally around 50% of people who download an app, only use it once. Though this percentage massively depends on the app category and what it’s like.

The number that would be interesting is ‘active users’ – that’s people who’ve opened it in a certain period of time. An additional useful number is the volume of  ‘app opens’ you have. It’s easy to record and a good example of the stickiness of apps.

Downloads though, isn’t worth a lot, even when playing by the rules (UK users, not including updates) – it just doesn’t really tell you much.

Can we please have a metric that all of UK radio agree on?

Can I suggest, the Deegan Doctrine v0.9?

1. Radio groups shall publish monthly figures for their apps

2. The figures will include:

a. Monthly UK App Downloads (Pointless as it is, i’m sure people will still want to show this off and it’s easily observable in iTunes Connect. It should not include ‘updates’)

b. Monthly active users (that’s the number of different UDIDs in a calendar month that have opened the app)

c. Monthly app opens (that’s the total number of times that an app’s been opened in a month)

Ideally, b and c should be UK-only, but i’m not sure everyone will have the ability to do measure this.

Another thing that’s complicated for everyone to do, but something that everyone should aim for:

d. Total in-app time (total hours spent in the app from all the instances of use, again ideally UK use)

By publishing these figures the UK Radio industry would show how well it’s doing in the mobile environment, offer some common metrics to advertisers  and provide a way for these advertisers to benchmark the different groups. With more revenue generated from apps, then more money will be spent on them, creating a better product for listeners.

So, thoughts? Clive D, Nick P, Bruce M, Phill C, Chris K (when you have one)? How are my metrics? Would you publish your data?

Marketing Innovation

Market Innovation

One of the disappointing things about doing lots of digital things for radio stations, is that it rarely gets the marketing focus the other elements of a station does. A billboard for a new cash promotion – sure! Money to promote a new listener club? Not normally.

This is often a waste, as it means something’s had time or money spent on it, but it isn’t given the opportunity to shine and do its job. It’s nice to see Radio 1 making a noise about their specialist radio programming, but also linking the message with a recent technical innovation.

Tom tweeted me a screengrab from his phone today (above, left). It’s an SMS from o2 about Radio 1’s specialist shows with a link to R1’s brand new mobile site – something that’s optimised for smartphones (above, right).

It’s clever because o2 lets you SMS their iPhone users (and choose which demographics too) with targeted messages. The medium is perfect for this type of campaign – they’re reaching people who can use their smartphone service with (I imagine) a demographically targeted campaign and thus reducing the advertising wastage.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that this is only great if you have budget. However, a similar concept could be used from data that you yourself have collected from listeners. Stations often get mobile numbers in sign-ups, why not ask what type of phone listeners have? If you did you could SMS them with ads promoting an iPhone, Android or Blackberry app as well as re-enforcing another key station message.

RAJAR Q4/2010. What have we learned?

RAJAR is never about individual quarters, it’s all about the trend. Successful stations are built on a strong base (something Dick Stone wrote about yesterday) but then thrive on being consistent. Listeners abhor change (whether it’s good for them or not) and changes in music, presenters or a myriad of other things rarely goes down well. Consistency (whilst often dull for commentators) is generally the key to long-term success. Many of the successes listed below have come from stations concentrating on being consistent (whilst good!) for a long period of time.

Okay, some things….

*LBC and Classic FM are now bigger stations in London (hours wise) than Capital or Heart
*Magic 105.4 is still #1 commercial station and doing a storming job
*The real #1 though, in London, is still Radio 4, with nearly 2.5x the share!
*Moyles is up (but sadly for him, so is Evans!)
*The old Galaxy network was still growing (will the Capital re-brand help or hinder?)
*Jack FM in Bristol grows again (will Celador dare to turn it into The Coast?)
*Disappointing figures for the main Absolute Radio
*Five Live’s enjoying much success with reach now over 7million
*1Xtra’s been overshadowed by its sister station 6Music, but another increase means it’s audience has grown by over 50% year on year.
*talkSPORT now have over 3m listeners – driven by consistency over the last 18 months!

And how are we doing on digital, I think it’s encouraging….

*15% of all radio listeners don’t ever listen through ‘analogue’ means
*40% of all radio listeners tune in using ‘digital radio’ sometime every week
*25% of all UK radio listening is using ‘digital radio’

During any week:

*8.8% of the UK tunes in to radio through the Internet
*13.6% of the UK tunes in to radio through Digital Television
*24.4% of the UK tunes in to radio through a DAB Digital Radio

When you look at the 25% of all radio listening that’s carried out through ‘digital radio’:

*DAB accounts for 63% (165m hours)
*DTV accounts for 17% (45m hours)
*Internet listening accounts for 12% (32m hours)

(8% is unsure how they listen, and hey, why should they!)

To put some of these figures into context, just the DAB listening portion now has similar reach and hours to that of BBC Radio 2.