Tag Archives: ad supported media

Evolve or Lose Relevance

23In two months, the world’s largest radio meeting will once again be taking place in Las Vegas; the 2016 NAB Show. Ironically, since leaving the radio industry and entering academia at Western Kentucky University, I attended my very first NAB show in 2011 and have every year since. So as visions of massive crowds and very sore feet dance in my head, I thought I’d look back over those past years and see how the theme of these meetings has evolved.

In 2011, the NAB highlighted that media consumption had become more digital and connected. TV everywhere strategies, mobile TV, the connected TV and the use of social media dominated the show.

In 2012, everyone was shouting about 4K video, ISP content delivery and the evolution of special effects technology. Everywhere you went you were shown 3DTV (I didn’t care for it, personally.)

In 2013, the NAB show hosted its first ever 2nd screen Sunday and the impact of more than one screen (the television set) vying for the viewer’s attention was fully recognized if not totally embraced by broadcasters.

In 2014, the NAB show wasn’t so much memorable for what it had but for what it didn’t have 3DTV. What had once been prolific throughout all the convention halls was now nowhere to be seen. 4K video & TV was now all the rage with Japan’s NHK demonstrating 8K video & TV. NHK said they will be recording the Rio Olympics in 8K and plans to televise (in Japan only) the 2020 Olympics in 8K. When you see TV pictures this detailed, you can instantly see why 3DTV bit the dust. 4K and 8K feels three dimensional and you don’t need any funky glasses.

Which brings me up to last year’s NAB show in 2015 where the theme was “Evolve or Lose Relevance” voiced by NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith. Smith urged broadcasters to embrace the new technologies like ASTC 3.0 & 4K for TV, and NextRadio’s mobile app for FM radio on mobile devices. Smith also talked about the spectrum auction which begins in March 2016 and characterized the auction as both “exciting and daunting.”

What may have been most daunting and certainly not exciting was to have been an AM broadcaster at this meeting – or any of the meetings of the last five years. Move along guys and gals, there’s nothing for you to see here. HDRadio was there every year and I think they had more cars outside of their convention hall than any previous year featuring their spiffy HDRadios, a technology that has been better embraced by the automakers than radio broadcasters for the most part. And of course, there were drones. Lots & lots & lots & lots of drones. Big drones, little drones…a drone for every size and budget. I’m wondering if the FAA will start coming to these meetings along with their friends from the FCC.

The only thing I haven’t seen addressed over these past five years is what seems to me to be the elephant in the room. Everything is supported on a business model that has been around since commercial broadcasting began in 1920, that being the selling of advertising. The covenant with the consumer of radio/TV programs was we will give you the programming for free if you allow us to expose you to our advertisers; a business model that worked extremely well through the birth of the Internet and dial-up connections. It would be the introduction of broadband and its rapid expansion that would challenge everything.

Blockbuster vs. Netflix is a good example. 2004 Blockbuster has 9,000 stores and almost $6 billion in revenue and only 4.4% of American homes had broadband. Netflix was mailing DVDs to its customers. 2010 Blockbuster files for bankruptcy, 68% of American homes have broadband and Netflix had been streaming to their customers for three years. Today Netflix has a market cap of almost $33 billion.

That really brings home the concept of “evolve or lose relevance” doesn’t it?

So what will the business model for media be evolving to? That’s the billion dollar question. Nobody knows. But what we do know is that Apple gave up its free iTunes music streaming at the end of January 2016 and now will only offer a paid subscription model. Disney’s ESPN is suffering the “agony of defeat” as more consumers cut their cable bundle (for which it’s reported that ESPN gets $7 per sub) and is causing this revenue stream to dry up while the cost of bidding for live sports events continues to escalate. Everything appears to be moving in a direction of asking the consumer to pay for what they want – like they do for HBO, Showtime, and Netflix etc.

So what’s the plan Stan for broadcast radio and TV? Or for any advertising supported medium for that matter? I think about this a lot.

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Looking Back at My 1st Year of Blogging

635867993253266683346579856_blog4Hard to believe I started this blog one year ago. It seems like only yesterday. Ironically, it was Sunday, January 3rd – the same date as today’s date.

Those early days were pretty lean when it came to readership, only a couple of folks to a couple of dozen in those first cold and blustery winter months of 2015. Most blogs – like most diet/exercise programs begun with a new year – last about four months. This blog is celebrating its 1st birthday and its readership has grown dramatically. Thank YOU for being a reader.

 Here were my top 3 most read blog posts of 2015:

We Never Called It Content

Larry Lujack, The Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Dale Dorman, Ron Lundy, Salty Brine, Bob Steele, and so many, many more. These names I’ve dropped are all no longer on the radio. Terrestrial radio anyway. We radio geeks like to think they are now Rockin’ N Rollin’ the hinges off the pearly gates. https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/09/06/we-never-called-it-content/

Top 3 In-Demand Radio Jobs

What is the future for jobs in radio in our digitally connected world? Three jobs in particular stand out as being in demand right now and look to be still in demand as radio celebrates its 100th Anniversary in the year 2020. The first won’t surprise anyone, the second is a job that only recently became critical and the third is a job that’s been a part of radio since day one. https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/02/22/top-3-in-demand-radio-jobs/

Why I Fired My Top Salesperson

My students are always stunned when I tell them about the time I fired my top salesperson. “Why would you do that?” they always ask. Today, I’m going to share that story with you.

In today’s competitive world, top performers are usually cut a little slack. There’s nothing really wrong with that, unless it breaks a culture of honesty, fairness and trust.   https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/11/01/why-i-fired-my-top-salesperson/

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I learned that my readers, while coming from all over the world, are mainly located in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. My readership has grown to near 18,000.

Some of the posts I consider to be some of my most insightful you might have missed, the links are posted below:

https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/03/15/the-future-of-ad-supported-media/

https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/09/13/is-radio-ready-for-a-black-swan/

https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/10/25/the-limitations-of-a-spreadsheet/

https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/04/05/attention-to-detail/

https://dicktaylorblog.com/2015/10/18/how-do-you-measure-employee-performance/

Posts from this blog have been re-published in Tom Taylor’s NOW – Radio’s Daily Management Newsletter, radioINSIGHT, North American Radio Network, Radio Ink, James Cridland’s newsletter, and RAIN among many others (I know I’m leaving some wonderful publications and people out, my apologies in advance). Thank You for sharing my thoughts.

I’ve been invited to appear on Vlogs and podcasts by Owen Murphy, Ryan Wrecker and Larry Gifford as a direct result of my blog. Thank You too.

Next week I will begin a new year of blogging my thoughts about radio, education and the changes each is working through during the communications revolution caused by the Internet of things (IoT).

I hope you will continue to enjoy reading my posts and learning something from what I share. You’re always invited to share your thoughts in the comments section. I learned at the Wharton School that while no one can predict the future, it is amazing when minds come together and share their perspective of what the future holds, how close to what will happen can be revealed.

Let’s grow together in media mentorship.

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Next week, I will take a look at the plight of the small to mid-size Internet streaming broadcasters’ dilemma in light of the Copyright Royal Board’s rates for 2016-2020 and why what’s happening is not new. It’s déjà vu.

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A New Revenue Model for Radio

When radio was coming into existence, the early owners of radio stations were manufacturers of radios. (I’m really simplifying things here, but bear with me.) They knew if they didn’t broadcast radio programs that people desired to hear, they wouldn’t sell many radios. They didn’t look at those early radio stations to make money as much as they looked to them to sell radio sets.

AT&T didn’t make radios. AT&T provided phone service and phone lines. AT&T to better understand this new thing called radio put a radio station on the air. Not wishing to have it cost them money, they figured they needed to come up with a way to make their station self-supporting. The best model at that time was the one used by newspapers and magazines; the selling of advertising. So AT&T sold the first radio commercial on their station; WEAF.

As more people and businesses went into the radio business, the selling of advertising became the model for making money. It’s been that way for nearly 100 years. But that was before the great disruptor; the Internet.

Every ad supported medium is faced with the same crisis; how to support itself when advertising isn’t getting the job done.

Rachel White is working on this problem for The Guardian. This newspaper began in the United Kingdom and today has become the most-read serious English-language media outlet in the world thanks to the Internet.

Rachel is The Guardian’s new global director of philanthropic and strategic partnerships. She’s charged with replacing the traditional ad-supported business model with fundraising. (Sounds like how NPR and PBS operate, doesn’t it.)

In a world where advertising has become increasingly fragmented, the challenge for news organizations is to maintain editorial integrity without selling out to the demands of advertisers.

Much like colleges and universities seek endowments from their well-off graduates or others who share in the vision of the institution, Rachel White is part of an innovative philanthropic model for sustaining an independent media platform.

Rachel is tasked with the mission to create major relationships with organizations such as the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations.

The Guardian isn’t doing away with advertising. It will continue to sell advertising to those organizations that wish to be associated with a journalism enterprise that takes a strong and independent stance. It’s just making sure it is never put in a position where advertisers can bias editorial decisions.

“If you think about the future of media, how do you fund media in the long term?” White was reported as asking. “Media underpins democracy. So how can philanthropy underpin that democratic model?”

Which got me to thinking….if radio’s business model came from print and print is now exploring philanthropy, might this not be an idea for local radio too?

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The Future of Ad Supported Media

I’ve just finished reading Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which I highly recommend everyone read, and Piketty stops me cold on page 357 with this graph (see below). I’ve highlighted in yellow two things for you to take note of. In a moment I’ll explain why this hit me so hard.

This same week, I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post “Mass production and mass media” where he explains that mass media exists because it permits mass marketers to do their job and how mass media is going away. If you’re in radio or TV, that kind of proclamation will get your attention; BIGTIME.

Godin is predicting that the “mass” part is what’s going away and that it is being replaced by “micro.” In essence that it’s better to be important to a few than be irrelevant to the many.

Then this article appears in AllAccess “Radio’s Dying…But The Cause Isn’t What You Think.” Seth Resler writes that radio isn’t going to die because it has been abandoned by listeners, but it’s going to die because it’s been abandoned by advertisers. Resler goes on to make the case that advertising is moving away from the Mad Men era art form that it was, towards a keyword and search scientific algorithm metric of today.

“…there has been little doubt for more than a decade that the advertising model that traditionally supported an industrial-age news and information system is evaporating,” writes Anderson, Bell and Shirky on pages 11-15 in “Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present (2012)”

Mark Perry, blogging at the American Enterprise Institute writes: “The dramatic decline in newspaper ad revenues since 2000 has to be one of the most significant and profound Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction in the last decade, maybe in a generation.”

Well, I’m here to have you consider a 3rd possibility, one that stopped me in my tracks as I was reading Piketty’s book. Now, I may be putting words in Professor Piketty’s mouth when I tell you what I’m about to say. Piketty did not write about radio or TV, or mass media in general in his book. He writes about wealth inequality in our world from antiquity to the present day and then makes some predictions about where things are headed based on current trend lines.

But this graph on page 357 haunts me.

Picketty Chart on page 357

That graph, from the period of 1913 to 2012 includes the period in which radio and television were born. It’s the era when advertising supported media took off. I worked the last forty years of that graph in the radio business and experienced the change in business that this graph shows.

Commercial radio was born in 1920. Commercial TV took-off in the 1950s. And I quite agree with Seth Godin when he writes “Mass production, the ability to make things cheaply, in volume, demanded that we invent mass marketing – it was the only way to sell what was being made in the quantity it was produced. Mass media exists because it permits mass marketers to do their job.” To which I would add to Seth’s thoughts that mass media and mass marketing both existed because there was a strong American middle class of consumers.

If Piketty is correct, the concept of a middle class consumer economy that existed between 1913 and 2012, was an anomaly. It didn’t really exist anywhere in the world before 1913 and it’s very likely not going to exist anywhere in the world as we journey away from the year 2012. The middle class consumer economy will evaporate and along with it, advertiser support for mass media.

1913-2012 was a unique period in world economic history. It gave birth to consumers who had money to spend, mass production that could produce lots of goods and mass media that could advertise those goods. All three were simultaneously occurring at the very same moment.

The new buzz words are “shared economy” and “collaborative economy.” What roles will large corporations, universities and mass media play when people are getting what they need from one another?

In 2014, Nielsen Music reported a staggering drop in music sales where as much as a fifth of music buyers didn’t buy anything.   2014 also saw box office ticket sales plunge to their lowest level in three years. The home ownership rate reached its lowest point in 25 years at the end of 2014. More people were now living in shared living arrangements or going back home to live with mom and dad. And NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appearing on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” told viewers that:

“The wealth gap in New York City today is worse than during the Great Depression or The Roaring 20s – and the gap is growing bigger. Today over half the people in NYC pay over a third of their income for housing. The reality is, (according to the mayor) if we don’t change course middle class families won’t exist in New York City.”

Are these reports canaries in the consumer coal shaft?

Medialife Magazine, a magazine devoted to media buyers and planners, reported that 2014 wasn’t good for advertising. Total spending was up 3.0 percent, but if you take out political spending and the Winter Olympics, the number shrinks to 1.6 percent. “That’s the worst yearly growth pace since the recession began in 2008,” said writer Bill Cromwell. Traditional media is struggling and according to Magna Global, “this appears to be a lasting trend.”

Only recently have broadcast operators said things like “flat is the new up” when comparing year-over-year revenues. I realize there are exceptions to what I’m saying. Your broadcast property might be one of them. But what are the trends that are taking place and how will they impact you in the years to come?

It took two world wars to re-set the wealth inequality gap and put into place FDR’s New Deal. Changes that have in more recent times been stripped away returning things to the way they were in the 19th Century; a period of time when the concept of a middle class of consumers didn’t exist.

Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads wrote recently (Monday Morning Memo, March 2, 2015) about “the shrinking of mass media” and “the growing reality of gender equality.” America went from being 16% single to 46% single in just one generation, Williams writes. “A once-proud nation of families is evolving into a proud nation of individuals.” And Williams sees “The trend toward singleness is sociological (while) the erosion of mass media is technological (as) each trend accelerates the other.”

Williams comes to this conclusion:

“We’re approaching the end of a golden time when courageous advertisers can invest money in mass media and see their businesses grow as a result. My suspicion is that we’ve got perhaps 5 to 7 more years before retail businesses and service businesses will be forced to begin playing by a whole new set of rules. Buy mass media while the masses can still be reached.”

The future of ad supported media is tied to consumerism. Consumerism is tied to having a strong middle class.

Does the Piketty graph on page 357 of his book “Capital” send a chill down your spine like it does to mine?

P.S. Thomas Piketty published an amplification on his r>g theory. You can read that here.

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