Friday, November 30, 2012

Damn statistics

I have spent a great deal of my professional life around statistics and broadcasting, with Tapscan and Arbitron (the radio ratings company), and marketing/advertising.  I totally agree with the old saw, "There are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics."  In fact, I spent about a dozen years teaching people how to take audience "estimates" and try to make their radio stations look as if they deserved some advertiser's dough, even if the numbers did not appear to justify it.

Truth is, no radio station or cable channel or individual TV show has all the listeners.  There can only be one number-one station or time-slot at a time.  But any ad-based medium must show that it has an audience and that their ears and/or eyeballs have some value to advertisers at some price.  Or that their ears and eyeballs were the precise ears and eyeballs the advertiser most coveted.  That takes skill.  And research that allows the seller to demonstrate where his strengths are.

That brings me to a short article I saw today in one of the radio industry trades.  One that sort of makes my blood boil.  Regular followers of this blog know that I--someone who still believes in the POTENTIAL power of radio for entertainment, information, and advertising--believe current "broadcasters" are fumbling the ball every way they turn.  And with all the other sources of entertainment, information and ads out there to challenge the medium, they radio is fumbling on its own 10-yard line!

Here is the headline:

Study: Pandora users hooked on AM/FM.
Another study confirms that listening to streaming audio services is additive to radio listening and not cannibalizing the medium. A survey by Vision Critical finds that Pandora listeners report spending 50% more time listening to AM/FM radio than non-Pandora listeners.

First, I don't know who "Vision Critical" is or what their methodology was in this study.  And I have no idea how they asked whatever questions they asked.  But every ounce of common sense I have left causes me to seriously question the proposition...of their research, if this story is accurate, or of the story itself if they have found this nugget on their own and it does not necessarily reflect what the study actually determined.

How about you?  Do you really believe that people who report themselves to be Pandora listeners spend 50% more time than non-Pandora users with over-the-air AM or FM radio?  There are only 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 168 hours in that same week.  If you sleep 56 hours, work 40 more, watch the average amount of TV, and have any kind of life, you probably don't spend a ton of what's left listening to anything, Pandora or Hot One-oh-Whatever FM.

And unless you are really weird, when you do listen to something aural and electronic, you only listen to one thing at a time.  So how can you possibly listen to Pandora AND 50% more than other folks to AM/FM?

Oh, maybe the average Pandora listener hears only 15 minutes of their wonderfully-customized music mix.  And they also enjoy 22.5 minutes of AM/FM in the car on the morning commute.  Then it makes sense.

See, I just used statistics to disprove my silly proposition that this "study" is a crock!

Don Keith N4KC

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just how rapidly is technology changing?

Yes, this blog is about rapid technological change and its effect on society, media and my beloved hobby of amateur radio.  I also maintain that those who cannot cope with quick change must be living in hell right about now.  I suspect many of those folks just shut down and ignore as much of it as they can manage.

But how quickly are things changing?  eMarketer is out with a report on how some select categories will change over the next year:

  • Facebook users:  147 million, up 4%
  • Twitter users: 36 million, up 14%
  • Smartphone users: 138 million, up 19%
  • Mobile Internet users: 144 million, up 18%
  • Mobile video viewers: 23% of the population, up 20%
  • Smartphone video viewers: 22% of the population (and more than half of smartphone users): up 22%
  • Online movie viewers: 27% of the population, up 16%
  • Online TV viewers: 35% of the population, up 13%
  • Tablet users: 31% of the population, up 42%

I'd say anyone trying to resist that tide is subject to drowning!

Don Keith N4KC

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Content is, of course, king

Just saw a cogent comment in USA TODAY by Matt Krantz in response to a reader question:

Companies that make the entertainment and content viewed on the bevy of new mobile devices, websites and Internet-connected TV devices are winning new appreciation with investors. Disney (DIS), Time Warner (TWX) and Viacom (VIA.B) shares are all at or near their 52-week highs as investors appreciate the value of the content, not just the hardware.

For instance, a healthy piece of [Disney's] growth is coming from digital-streaming deals with Netflix and Amazon. And at Time Warner, part of the company’s potential upside comes from a number of digital projects ranging from HBO Go, TV Everywhere and All Access.

Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Star Wars creator Lucasfilm is another example of how media companies are bolstering their content.

(Thanks to blogger Mark Ramsey for the lead on this quote.)

I had already been thinking about a post in regard to the Lucasfilm/Disney deal.  This goes back to something I have been preaching for a long time: those who will be most successful in the world of rapidly changing technology as it pertains to media are those who provide CONTENT.  Consumers are ravenous for good, creative content, and so are the companies mentioned above and others who have cable channels, theater seats, download servers, mobile devices and more for which they have to supply CONTENT.

Oh, there is plenty of success available for those who develop, build and market the devices on which all that CONTENT will be accessed...computers, servers, smartphones, TVs, radios, and on and on and on...but that requires that you already have the infrastructure to do all that developing, building and marketing.  That takes labs, factories, offices, and lots and lots of capital...or an idea so great and radical that someone will supply you with all that to get it off the ground.

Today, creating CONTENT requires only one thing: a creative mind.  You can create that CONTENT on a keyboard, with a telephone, with a simple digital camera, or with other readily available devices.  Even a legal pad and a pencil.  Heck, I'm creating content right now!  And that's on a 7-year-old computer with a simple Internet connection.

By the way, on a not-really-unrelated topic, I have just done a soft launch on a new project about which I am way beyond passionate.  The UNTOLD MILLIONS Oral History Project is an effort to get as many people as I can interested in gathering, preparing and publishing some really vital content: the oral histories, journals, diaries and recollections of people who can supply us eyewitness history.

We are losing WWII veterans at a rate of 700 per day, and with each of them we are burying or cremating human history.  When you factor in those who experienced other wars, the Civil Rights movement, the Great Depression, the space program, and other significant history then you see where the name of the project originated.  We are losing millions of untold stories by not using a little effort and modern digital publishing to collect and archive these real-life experiences.

I've done an e-book on the subject, too, and it is available for download HERE.  Proceeds from the sale of the book go back into the project.

I appreciate your helping me spread the word.

Don Keith