Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DVR for AM-FM? Gee!

Radio is the most ephemeral of all media.  Don't look up the word.  It just means it's here right now and then it's gone forever.  If someone says something especially pithy, makes you laugh, elucidates...oops!  Unless you had a tape recorder rolling, it's gone.  Oh, some stations and shows offer podcasts, but that's their opinion of what you found worth hearing again or sharing with friends.

Well, now along comes DAR.FM, a service that allows you to record your favorites and listen to them anytime, anywhere.  "Anywhere" assumes you have a computer, smartphone, or other device that will allow you to access the Internet, of course.  And the part about you being able to easily share whatever it is with your buddies is still in development.  But still, this DVR-like service for radio has some real possibilities.

HERE is an interesting interview with DAR.FM's founder, Michael Robertson.  If you don't have time to view the entire thing, skip to about the last six-and-a-half minutes.  There Michael has some interesting thoughts about how people expect to consume media content and how your old jalopy fits into that equation.

Rapid technological change.  You ain't see nothin' yet!

But the one thing that will drive it--beyond smartphones, apps, the Internet, WIFI, and all that other geek stuff is...wait for it...CONTENT.  You still have to have something on the air that is compelling enough that someone will want to record it, play it back, share it, and cherish it.  I agree with Robertson that some of that exists now.  But when people can truly access content from a wide range of geographies, regardless the time of day it aired or was made available, then those who produce something worthwhile will be royally rewarded.  As now with the wide range of TV content required to fill all those channels 24/7, there will be a tremendous hunger for audio magic.

And those who think compelling content is streaming the same tired old songs one after the other will fade away like that daytime AM radio station when the sun goes down.

Don Keith N4KC

Friday, June 1, 2012

Interrupting for attention

Followers of this blog have seen before my mentions of consultant Seth Grodin and his pithy observations on the nature of marketing, media, and the like.  In a recent interview, Grodin made some especially salient points on the subject of "moving from advertising to marketing."  Common misperception: advertising IS marketing.  No.  Advertising is one aspect of a much bigger thing called "marketing."  Marketing can start when a product or service is first conceived...who needs this widget?  What makes it better than other widgets already out there?  Can we make it and sell it at a price that can be competitive and still make enough money to make it worth our time and effort...and risk?  At some point, you finally start thinking about advertising, where, to whom, how much, and how.

As with everything else, marketing and its more visible component, advertising, are affected by rapidly changing technology that has scrambled the landscape.  Changed it since I started typing this post.  And Seth Grodin has some interesting points to make in that regard:

We all grew up learning about the industrial revolution. Every revolution then brings an age behind it. The industrial revolution created the industrial age. What was hard about the industrial age was making stuff. Henry Ford didn’t get rich because he ran good commercials. He got rich because he made a car better for the money than anyone ever had before. So, for half a century making stuff was key.

Then, once you got factories up and running making stuff, there’s a demand for mass media. We invented television to make advertisers happy, not the other way around. And so in this second era, the mass media era, we’ve got lots and lots of attention because television manufactured attention and we needed to grab that attention and turned it into money. 

But attention is now scarce. It’s not abundant anymore. There’s a million or a billion channels to choose from, not three. There is a store one click away that sells every item ever made as opposed to the local store where shelf space was scarce. All of those things undermine the importance of making average stuff because it’s easier than ever before.
You can design something on your computer, send an email to China and a month later it comes back and you didn’t have to do anything. The hard part isn’t getting shelf space because everyone gets the same amount of shelf space on Amazon as everybody else. The hard part is earning attention and trust, and nothing that Henry Ford did was about attention or trust.

Interruption (as in traditional media advertising) does work unless your interruptions are being interrupted.
If you stand up in church and start screaming and yelling, everyone will notice you. They may not trust you but they’ll notice you. What has happened is the amount of interruption, the amount of noise, has gone from getting two emails a day to 450. So you can interrupt my email box all you want. It’s not going to work.

And so we replaced this idea that you could steal my attention with the idea that you could earn it and I have to pay it to you. I can’t get it back because once attention is gone, it’s gone forever. But the person who owns attention has built a worthwhile asset.
Name one company that has gone on the internet and built a brand, a jingle, a slogan or a logo. The answer is none. The Internet doesn’t build those things the way TV does. What the Internet builds is connection, and every successful Internet company and every successful Internet marketer is successful for that and only that reason: They have earned attention, built trust and turned it into profit.

Grodin goes on to talk about telling stories, establishing "tribes" that are loyal to whatever you are selling.  These should be familiar concepts to those who follow this blog.

Each day, I mark several emails as "spam" and block the sender from ever landing in my inbox again.  But I don't do that to every piece of incoming advertising email.  Some I am polite enough to unsubscribe.  Others I allow to waft right on in every single time for my consideration.  Why?  Because some of it has earned my trust.  I want to see what they have to offer.  I have become part of their "tribe."  Same thing with ads that interrupt "Hatfields and McCoys" or whatever else I may have DVRed.  If I want to see the "story" they are offering, I'll allow that ad to spin out in normal time.

Example: the DirecTV commercials that tell me--through outrageous example--what will happen if I continue to stick with cable.  Some hate 'em.  That's the risk they take when they tell a story.  But the stories they tell will resonate with many, many others who are frustrated with cable.  That makes the ads successful.  That and the marketing that went into not only the ads but the product offered about which they speak.

Don Keith N4KC