How To Reduce Spotloads & Increase Revenue

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I don’t have to state the obvious — that for music formatted stations, playing more music is important. But listeners have access to their favorite music through so many options today. Why do they need your station?

It gets down to how well you really know your audience. You have all the elements: music, local personalities, social connection, and mobility. Is that enough to keep and grow your audience? With so much pressure to reduce spotloads, what can you do to keep and grow your audience, without sacrificing revenue?

I’ve said in the past that becoming more important to the listener during their day is not just a good thing, now it’s the only thing. It’s not just news, traffic, weather, and entertainment — which are important, of course — but listeners are demanding more, and you must give it to them.

It’s no longer about basic entertainment, but capturing your listener, both informationally and socially, while connecting them with your advertisers, all without the listeners feeling like they’re continually being pitched. It doesn’t

matter how good a spot is, after a few times, your listener knows what’s coming and they either tune out mentally or, worse, avoid the spot altogether by switching stations or leaving for another music or information source. Will they come back?

Listeners have developed a whole new view of available media and what they want to fulfill their daily needs. It’s not enough anymore to connect and deliver information that is relevant and important to them.

Consider playing one less spot an hour, and replace it with a content feature that really matters, that actually makes a difference in listeners’ lives. If you really know your listeners, provide something that will make them stop and pay attention. They will stay for 60 or even 120 seconds

if they feel they’re receiving value for the time they’re investing. It’s the extended connection that tells them you know what’s important to them that creates value and will deliver them to your feature.

For example, we produced “The Jeep Grand Cherokee Driving Adventure,” weekly content offering local places to go and things to do in each market that appealed to the target and aligned with the benefits of Jeep’s Selec-Terrain technology. The client and stations loved it, and it got listener response — all for the price of a spot, but more valuable.

Run different features throughout the day for different clients, and you’ll get the same revenue, with fewer spots.

Pay careful attention to the first 10 seconds of each feature — it’s the hook, the only chance you have to immediately resonate with your listeners and give them a reason to stay for the rest of the feature time. Commercials don’t necessarily do that, and too much spot repetition is a turnoff. The point is that when you deliver information, it should sound different, more meaningful. But it takes work — work that comes with knowing your listeners, what they want and what matters to them. So there is a cost, but it will pay dividends to your station, your listener, and your clients.

Begin by tapping into the resources you possess to determine what’s important to listeners: their lifestyle, health, happiness, and social well-being. Think about how you can match a localized information feature to a client. Then sell the feature to the client to replace one of their spots. Don’t run the feature in a spot break — shorten the break and run it in programming where attention is greater and its presence will be more meaningful.

Here’s what happens: the feature connects your listener to your client through their lifestyle or their need for information to better their lives. The association with a well received information feature develops a positive association for your client at another level. Trust, value, and authenticity

are conveyed. The client connection to the subject of the feature must make sense, and it will deliver a positive halo effect. The client presents the information but doesn’t pitch the listener — that’s the key. They are providing something more important, and not compromising the amount or value of the information. Sponsored features, those that truly make a logical connection between listener and client, are well received (just ask NPR).

This is building frequency, but without the tedium of repeating the same commercial. That’s a pitch and condescending, but this is the delivery of a benefit to the listener. That doesn’t mean you don’t sell the client commercial time.

You do, just not as much, as you have replaced it with something that garners listener attention rather than repetition and tuneout.

This requires an investment, but the payoff is more relevance to the listener in different ways during the day, and possibly shorter spot breaks (and we all know how great that would be). Of course, you then integrate your features throughout your extended digital and audio assets.

Doing this will deliver a better product and a new way for your advertisers to look at your station and how you value your audience.

Dick Kalt is the EVP of CRN International. You can reach him at 203.407.3339 or dick@crnradio.com. Originally posted to RadioInk.

The Podcast Newsletter Curated for Marketers - October 2018

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Two important semi-related events occurred in the podcast world in the last couple of weeks. Both Panoply and BuzzFeed curtailed—and in Panoply’s case, eliminated—producing podcasts.  
 
How can this be?  We all thought there was nothing that could stop the podcasting steamroller.  Audience is growing. Ad revenue is growing.
 
Panoply is wisely playing the numbers. It has shifted its model to aggregating other producers’ podcasts in its new ad serving platform, Megaphone, which offers advanced audience targeting in association with Nielsen.
 
BuzzFeed, on the other hand, is having third-party producers take over a thinner version of its portfolio to save on production costs and is refocusing on its own video production.
 
Professional podcast production is darn expensive. Not as expensive as TV, of course, but still requiring skilled people with editorial, production, audio engineering and editing, and marketing chops. It takes time to see a return on investment, if any. It is much easier to create revenue by letting other producers absorb the production risk and work out a revenue split. There’s good piece from Poynter on the topic. 

Without Panoply’s in-house editorial and production staff, the path ahead is unclear for Panoply Custom, the production arm that creates custom podcasts exclusively for a single advertiser. But have no fear, Collisions is able and willing to pick up the mantle.

Podcast Trends

Three interesting trends we’ve noticed lately are the proliferation of local, daily and short podcasts. 

Local Podcasts 

Podcasting has no geographic boundaries. There are no transmitters or licenses required. Once a podcast is out there, the world has access to it. So why limit a podcast, the theory goes, to provincial interests and, thus, limit the audience potential? That was the initial strategy of most publishers.
 
Many TV stations, newspapers, radio stations, businesses, and organizations have now come to realize the potential high engagement of the podcast audience, and don’t necessarily need to generate the boxcar number of a TedTalks or Serial to accomplish their goals. Local media entities have a new arrow in their quivers to sling at local advertisers. And for some other local businesses and organizations, ad revenue isn’t the goal; they have other motives to reach their hometown constituencies, including growing their own influence base.
 
That said, marketers interested in the double whammy of local AND podcast engagement should definitely consider the potency of local podcasts.

Daily Podcasts

The New York Times “The Daily” is to daily podcasts what Serial was to podcasting in general. Since the dropping of its first episode in February 2017, almost all national news outlets—NBC, PBS, CNN, ABC, many local news outlets as well as AM/FM radio stations and others—who have fresh content to serve up every day are jumping into the pool. Look for more and more “dailies” as the convergence of radio and podcasting become the norm.

Short Podcasts

We’re not talking here about the 20-minute kind. The podosphere is dotted now with “short-short” podcasts 10 minutes or under. Here are a few. From a marketing perspective, short podcasts deserve attention. There usually are only one or two ads, and people are listening to the entire show—so there’s less chance of bailing out early. Also, because they’re so short, people are less likely to speed-listen through them or skip ahead.  Watch—or should we say, listen—for a new audio service, Synth, which publishes 256-second podcasts, kind of like audio’s version of Twitter.

SHORT TAKES

B2B podcasts on the rise but use different distribution methods and metrics… Here’s a scary headline from The Verge: Amazon Wants Alexa to be the Operating System of Your Life. Plug of the Month: If you or someone you love has ADHD (most creative marketers have it), take note: October is ADHD month and our podcast Distraction with Dr. Ned Hallowell is the #1 ADHD podcast. Give it a listen; we think you’ll like it.