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RAIN Summit Atlanta

| September 30, 2015

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterATLANTA — At 6:00 am Tuesday here, it was raining cats and dogs.  By 6:00 pm, RAIN Summit attendees heard how cats and dogs embody the difference between on-air radio and online radio.  Radio And Internet News publisher Kurt Hanson – a lifelong cat person who recently adopted a dog – explained, in pet terms, how the medias’ business models differ:

AM/FM radio is like cats: Streaming and podcasting is like dogs:
Limited upkeep needed Requires lots of upkeep
Low energy High energy
Myers-Briggs “INTP” personality type “ESJF” personality
Poor task orientation Excellent task orientation
Implied affection Explicit affection

If this seems vague in the retelling, it made perfect sense at the end of a day full of panel discussions, keynotes, and interviews with those creating and selling and buying advertising in digital audio.

“If your terrestrial station sounded like your stream you’d fire your PD.”

Saga’s Matt Nystrom was among panelists trying to make sense of something few stations do well: inserting web-only commercials into their Internet streams.  “Generally,” his company’s stations simply simulcast what’s on-air online.

Other sound bites from a daylong discussion about radio-without-transmitters:

On-demand audio has been around since iPod, now an antique.  Why so hot NOW?  There’s more to it than the “Serial,” milestone, according to participants in the RAIN session “Podcast is the New Black:”

  • Improved content. “Names” want in.  President Obama said “the ‘N’ word” in Marc Maron’s garage.
  • RIP RSS: Smartphones make podcasts easier to click-to-listen than the iPod-era sync-up-and-download routine.
  • Data plans are cheaper.
  • Connected car listening. Seen VW’s new TV ad?
  • Social media: It’s easy to pass-around click-to-listen URLs. The most successful shows are those that really engage with their communities. 

“EARN attention from your audience.”

A common theme that emerged as various speakers recited data points that painted a picture of modern day media consumption:

  • Average YouTube view time: 48 seconds.
  • 1-in-4 Millennials don’t watch any TV.
  • Most listeners who bail out of a podcast do so in the first 10 seconds.
  • In his keynote, Public Radio Exchange CEO Jake Shapiro disclosed that National Public Media has a bigger online audience (30 million) than on-air cume (26M).
  • And over half of PRX streaming traffic is now on mobile devices.

Hot topic at the RAIN Summit: Something station sales departments are under pressure to deliver: do-re-mi:

  • The good news: CPMs are, as several speakers characterized it, “through the roof,” as much as $30 (compared to network radio’s $2-something).
  • The bad news: 25% of all Internet traffic is ad-blocked.
  • Veteran station reps can deftly counter objections about on-air ads, but aren’t as well versed in digital. Curiously, Greater Media director of interactive sales Jennifer Williams told us that her company has digital sales managers but not digital-only reps.
  • Radio-style 30- or 60-second spots aren’t appropriate digital creative. XAPP Media’s Lisa Namerow says podcast ads need a specific call to action. Getting them “to LOOK AT the phone,” or go somewhere online for a specific benefit, is tough, because much of the time the smartphone app is in a pocket otherwise not visible or out of reach.
  • Agency exec Jennifer Hungerbuhler says her clients “are really interested, but don’t understand” podcasting.
  • Podcast One president Kit Gray admits that direct response ads are still a big part of his company’s model, but he says they’ve also commissioned Edison Research to demonstrate ROI to brand advertisers.

Buzzword-of-the-Day: “podfade” (podcasts that a creator discontinues creating).  If you want-in, it’ll take dogged persistence.


Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of Talk Radio and the Internet, and he covers industry conferences for Talkers and RadioInfo.com.  Follow his real-time Tweets from the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Atlanta @HollandCooke, and look for his notes here later this week.

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Category: Analysis