More from the Nielsen Audio Client Conference | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

More from the Nielsen Audio Client Conference

| December 4, 2015

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterNATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Tell someone you’re going to a two-day conference on audience measurement, and you’ll see how inconspicuously she can yawn with her mouth closed.  But what happened before lunch on day one was, alone, worth the trip.  ICYMI, find yesterday’s report here.

Here are my notes from Thursday afternoon sessions:

“The smartphone is universal, understand that.”

Nielsen VP measurement innovation Dr. Ed Cohen — with University of Florida Professor of Telecommunication Dr. Sylvia Chan-Olmsted — presented “The Class of 2015: Four Years in the Lives of Digital Natives.”

Yes, this research study has been underway since before Nielsen acquired Arbitron, because:

  • Technology is evolving SO quickly; and
  • “College kids have high-speed everything” (on-campus broadband); so they “may be trending one or two years ahead” of the general population.
  • And being “a collaborative group of like-minded people,” their media consumption/interaction behavior is telling.

Data points and take-aways:

  • “You must have a mobile strategy.” 3-out-of-4 students have iPhones (surprising, given that there are more Android devices in use now).
  • “Everyone is on social media; and radio can leverage that.” Facebook has 100% penetration.  Verbatim from focus group video: “It’s weird when somebody doesn’t have a Facebook.”  Ed urges that stations “up your game on Facebook.”  Snapchat is their #2, Instagram #3.  Twitter seems stalled at about 40%.
  • “You don’t need to be everywhere in social media, but you have to be relevant.” Chan-Olmsted – a professor, who spends her day with young people — dashed a too-common radio liner, calling “Like us on Facebook” irrelevant.   “Not only will they block you out, it could have a negative effect.”  Dr. Ed offered a litmus test: “Funny…Useful…Informative: If it’s not one of those three, don’t bother [posting it].”
  • HOW tethered are they to social? Chan-Olmsted got a big laugh reporting that “they actually admire someone who can go to a restaurant and not look at their phone.”

As for traditional media consumption?

  • Social media = news media, a reality echoed in another session by New York Times product director/mobile Paul Werdel: “Our competitors now are not just news organizations, but everyone else.” Big stories break there, but traditional media like radio can then deliver detail.
  • Otherwise: Good News/Bad News: Broadcast and print do have a place in their consumption habit. “Analog media is a way to slow down and disconnect.”
  • TV: Most of these young people are the non-cable/satellite subscribers we call “cord cutters,” “because they never had a cord.” They consume Internet video, so DVD is less relevant “because they can stream.”
  • “Appointment viewing is not done yet, especially for sports.”

And what of radio?

  • It has one place, the car (a place these particular listeners don’t spend much time). So AM/FM is “out of sight, out of mind.”
  • They’re not that excited about what’s available on-air. “I’m tired of hearing the same songs over and over.”
  • Cohen warned against imaging that seeks to differentiate by reminding that it’s free. “That lowers the value.  They already know they don’t have to pay for it.”
  • Instead: “Emphasize radio’s value, especially in the social connection of radio” (if your station still has personalities).

Looking for personalities? “Talent is out there, just not in the usual places.”  Look at YouTube and other online sources; although “talent in these places isn’t thinking of radio.”

Bottom line: “You need to do something AND you need a feedback loop to know it if worked.”

The Components of Tuning Behavior: Switching vs. Turning

This WILL seem nerdy, but bear with me.  There’s an important headline here.

Based on Media Monitors analysis of a whopping 3,675,8846 occasions-of-listening, four types were observed:

  1. “Turn On – Turn Off:” The listener turns on the radio to your station, then, eventually turns-off the radio without listening to another station.  This behavior accounted for 62.7% of all occasions.
  2. “Turn on – Switch Out:” They turn on the radio to your station, then change to another station.  11.3%
  3. “Switch In – Switch Out:” They come to you from another station, and eventually leave for another station.  14.5%
  4. “Switch in – Turn Off:” After tuning-into your station from another station, the listener turns off the radio.  11.5%

Obviously, the headline is that 62.7% number; and Coleman Insights’ Warren Kurtzman figures “This really speaks to the importance of brand-building.”  Quoting founder Jeff Bezos – “A brand is what people say about you when you leave the room” – Kurtzman paraphrased for radio’s purposes: “You need to win ‘the off’ to win ‘the on.’”

And because so-called “First Preference” listeners (“P1s,” who listen to your station more than any other) contribute most to your total Average Quarter Hours, note that their “Turn On – Turn Off” number is 78.6%, vs. 62.7% noted above for all listeners. All of the above “really speaks to the importance of brand-building.”

This study will be available for download next week at

Podcasting and Radio: How Broadcasters Can Engage Audiences and Generate Revenue with On-Demand Audio

Session moderator Seth Resler began this session observing the obvious: “If on-demand is happening in video, I’ll happen in audio. Podcasting gets people when they are available, not when you want them to be available.”

Also obvious: National Public Radio does podcasting real well.  How well?

  • Use has doubled in the past year.
  • Revenue has tripled.

Fact: “17% of Americans listen to podcasts,” according to NPR product manager for social media and podcasts Mathilde Piard, who reckons “We need to go after the other 83%.”

Podcasting is a less-complicated process now than under the old synch-your-iPod routine.  Yes, iTunes itself still is the dominant distribution platform worldwide; but now we can invite click-to-listen consumption on station web sites, and Tweet-out MP3 links.

What should stations podcast?  Panelist suggestions:

  • Repurpose airchecks. Dave Ramsey gets 2 million+ podcast downloads a week doing so.

Consultant tip: Not just whole shows.  Think searchable single-topic segments.

  • “Things you wouldn’t be able to do in the normal broadcast clock.”
  • Topics that work: Comedy is #1, educational information is #2. “Everyone likes to laugh and learn.”
  • “The best thing about podcasting is that it can be anything” topically.

Consultant tip: Tell advertisers’ stories.

Most-notable factoid of the session: NPR cut from about 100 choices a year ago to about 30 topics, and use went up lots.  Radio axiom: Play the hits.

Legal tip: NO MUSIC.  But in podcasting there’s no FCC either. ;)

Panelist consensus:

  • “You guys [radio stations] have all the keys to make this a local medium.”
  • Your transmitter has huge promotion valuable. Many podcasts fail because nobody knows they’re there.
  • Consistency is key. Set a deadline and stick to it, or you won’t be habit-forming.


  • Many brand advertisers need 5,000 USA downloads, unless it’s a niche topic (i.e., “humidors”).
  • Several panelists spoke of “incredible renewal rate;” and long campaigns (“not 30 days”). There’s lots of interest in “dynamic ad insertion” that emulates network radio traffic, and will allow shorter flights.  But for now, ads are “baked-in” to archived audio.
  • Paywall
  • Crowdfunding, what NPR’s Piard calls “a different kind of paywall.”

Other panelist tips:

  • Go to iTunes and listen to the most-listened-to podcasts, to learn what’s working.
  • Subscribe to hotpod.
  • Attend Podcast Movement event.
  • CAUTION: “Have a digital strategy. Podcasting is a LOT of work.”

I’ll summarize these Friday sessions in Monday’s issue:

  • “Talking Politics with Stephanie Miller”
  • “How Top Brands Fight Through The Clutter”
  • “Millennials 360: The Music Habits of America’s Most Connected Consumers”


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers industry conferences for Talkers and RadioInfo. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke.

Category: Analysis