Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Radio: In search of research


I’ve been on a quest to unearth a non-radio research study that exceeds some of those recent crazy claim reports certain researchers have done on our industry.

How about the one in support of HD Radio, which claims that Microsoft’s latest Zune model will save that digital disaster?

There’s the one commissioned by the NAB and RAB on the “success” of their Radio Heard Here campaign.

Did you happen to read the new piece-of-you-know-what research claiming that buying smart phone apps for radio stations will automatically translate to actual listening to terrestrial radio on mobile?

Radio-oriented research has become so tainted and implausible that it’s not taken seriously by anyone other than those in the industry that concoct them. Most level-headed individuals in radio would prefer that these radio witch doctors would just go away.

If you want one true fact, it’s this. When a troubled industry churns out highly questionable and excessively positive “research studies,” like it or not, they send the wrong message.

It’s the message of a scoundrel, a liar, a manipulator. It’s not the image radio wants or needs.

A few of the usual suspects sent me threatening e-mails for daring to criticize their fiction…er…findings.

And now I think I’ve found a research study that almost tops some of the wild and weird research on radio we’ve been reading from those usual suspects.

Let’s look at this new, just-released study from the Minneapolis-based MORI Research

It reveals, among other things, that 59 percent of adults identify newspapers as the leading advertising medium they use for planning, shopping, and purchase decisions.

See, the newspaper industry, like radio, has a problem. It loves to manipulate research.

Newspaper Association of America (Pronounced "nay") CEO John Sturm said of the new study, “While new technologies have their place in any total marketing program, newspaper advertising remains the most powerful tool for advertisers who want to motivate consumers to take action.”

One-hundred years ago, the village blacksmith said, “While automobiles have their place in any transportation medium, horses remain the number one means of transportation.”

MORI’s “preliminary data,” as they call it, showed that rival media trailed well behind newspapers as the primary medium for advertising.

Newspapers came in at number one with 41 percent. Yes, pause for a chuckle.

Moving right along, the Internet was number two at 21 percent. Direct mail was third with 14% percent. Television weighed in at fourth with only 8 percent. Catalogs came in fifth at 6 percent followed by magazines in sixth place with 3 percent.

Last, but not least, was radio, coming in with a whopping 2 percent. No medium did worse.

In fact, “None of These” fared better than magazines and radio with its 5 percent showing.

It gets better.

The study also claims that:

73 percent of adults regularly or occasionally read newspaper inserts. What? Can’t you break it down between those that regularly read inserts and those that occasionally check them out?

Even the deef and dumb HD Radio “studies” weren’t that ambiguous. On second thought, I take it back. They were.

82 percent were “spurred (their word) into action” by a newspaper insert in the past month.

Here’s the breakdown on the “action” they took: 61 percent clipped a coupon; 50 percent bought something (which makes you wonder about all those coupon clippers that didn’t buy anything); 33 percent went to a web site to “learn more,” and 27 percent tried something “for the first time.”

MORI added that their “preliminary data” also revealed that other media trailed “well-behind” newspapers as the primary medium for checking advertising.

MORI claimed this study was “conducted this phone and Internet survey of more than 3,000 adults for the Newspaper Association of America representing the $47 billion newspaper industry and more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.”

How about that? – the Newspaper Association of America.

Let’s take it one step further. Who are MORI’s clients?

Gannett
(via USA Today), Knight-Ridder, which no longer exists (The McClatchy Company of Sacramento, Calif. purchased its assets in 2006), the Seattle Times, the Washington Post, Copley Newspapers, the San Antonio Express-News, the Orange County Register, and the Sunday newspaper nationally distributed Parade Magazine, among others.

They also do research for AOL. And we know how healthy that joint is these days.

You’ve probably heard about the five stages of decline in business: 1. Hubris born of triumph; 2. The unbridled pursuit of more; 3. Denial of risk and peril; 4. Grasping for salvation - and 5 and final - Surrendering to irrelevance or death.

That moment of truth arrives in stage four. Leaders recognize the downward spiral they’re in – and their response will determine the business’ fate.

General Motors was locked in denial, believing that they’d survive because – after all, they’re GM. They convinced themselves that they’d come up with a hot new model car or truck to save their sorry asses. They flew to Washington, figuring they’d twist a few arms and return to Detroit with a few bucks to keep the lights on until they reinvented the wheel. Their CEO lost his job.

Rival Ford read the room, recognized their dilemma, and changed the dynamics of their business.

Though the downward spiral sequence is alarming, the outcome can be reversed at any stage of the process except for number five.

If you haven’t figured out the scorecard, please be advised that both radio and newspapers are hanging on – and just hanging on – in the fourth position.

I don’t want to see radio or newspapers go under. Both must recognize the 21st century and transform the way they do business.

There are too many radio CEOs that are trying so hard to convince themselves that they’re the Comeback Kids of the industry. I hate to clue them in. They’re more like the next Freddie Kruger – and the future of their version of radio industry may well be their Nightmare on M Street.

But, come on, admit it. Wasn’t it nice to read someone else’s lies for a change?
----

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a miserable existence you must have, digging through the daily trash so you can throw your wounded hyena pack of readers another piece of carrion. How easy it is to shout from the sidelines as real people struggle to solve problems. You laugh at every stumble but ignore any stride. You love to call people nicknames, snorting malevolent chuckles through your beakish nose as you muse at your cleverness. Do you ever stop to wonder if you've hurt another human being? If some parent must explain to their child why they’ve been slandered by a stranger? How would you feel if you were assigned an insulting nickname, plastered on the web for all to see? Buzzard? How fitting for one who feast on the flesh of others. Scavenger. Parasite. A venomous windbag praying for the death of the industry that cast him out.

Danny said...

wait, are you talking about FOX News?

Anonymous said...

"What a miserable existence you must have, digging through the daily trash so you can throw your wounded hyena pack of readers another piece of carrion. How easy it is to shout from the sidelines as real people struggle to solve problems. You laugh at every stumble but ignore any stride. You love to call people nicknames, snorting malevolent chuckles through your beakish nose as you muse at your cleverness. Do you ever stop to wonder if you've hurt another human being? If some parent must explain to their child why they’ve been slandered by a stranger? How would you feel if you were assigned an insulting nickname, plastered on the web for all to see? Buzzard? How fitting for one who feast on the flesh of others. Scavenger. Parasite. A venomous windbag praying for the death of the industry that cast him out."

Denile ain't just a river in Egypt. Radio is already dead. If anything Gorman is trying to figure out a way to bring it back to life. Focus your hostility on those who deserve it, like the corporate criminals who are currently bleeding radio out of it's final blood before they discard it (and you) completely.

Anonymous said...

Cooked research is nothing new. One reason Arbitron became the coin of the realm in radio ratings in the 1970s was because Hooper, Pulse, etc. were notoriously unreliable, giving client stations higher ratings than the competition. Sure a study commissioned by a particular interest group will tell that group what it wants to hear. Of course any thinking person would discount whatever results it comes up with. Who's thinking these days besides the cynics writing the studies?

Anonymous said...

John, I think Fred Jacobs is tired of you outing him. You should have mentioned his "false" HD Radio survey that the Alliance made him pull back on.

Anonymous said...

There is the old fable of the scorpion and the frog. You can look it up on line. Therein lies the problem with old media. Instead of trying to reinvent itself it turns on other old media in a battle to the death.

I think radio and newspapers could have a future, too. Different definitely from what we deal with today. It will take creativity and cunning promotion and marketing. That is a challenge not a curse for those willing to take it on.

John, I don't know who you ticked off. It probably was Fred Jacobs or Randy Michaels or maybe even Pig Vomit. (he blamed you for his kids getting picked on for being his.) You have a right to attack these people. They certainly attacked you every chance they got. Fred Jacobs and his brother live to hate you. How sick.

Anonymous said...

Is Fred Jacobs the first "anonymous" listed here?

Anonymous said...

I love your Freddy Kruger line. Perfect. They are walking nightmares and the walking dead. The current crop of radio CEOs will get their golden parachutes unfortunately but once they are out of the picture radio can be reinvented. No matter what new media is out there, a large segment of the population wants to be surprised and entertained. I still would enjoy a station that exposed me to the music I will like enough to buy and put on my Ipod. Where are the next crop of personality radio DJs. Wherever they are that is what I want to listen to.

Danny said...

First: This is a different Danny than the Danny posting in #2. This one loves Fox News, Rush Limbaugh ...... and NPR (though NPR is dull).

Second: The GM analogy is great! Radio and broadcasting is not only in denial, but the same dynamics of number crunchers taking and ruining a creative business is also at play. GM was never known for technology, but it was known for style. The number crunchers took GM's NUMBER ONE strategic stregnth (style) and dumbed it down to the point where it's market share went from 50% to about 18% (and that's with Pontiac, Hummer, Saab and Saturn).

Likewise, Radio has dumbed down its creative element and has become a game of numbers. And the numbers guys have taken the same dominant market share and have run it into a ditch.

Third: GM execs were always on top and still had the arrogant attitude that they ruled the world. And despite cut after cut after cut after cut, were still unable to realize they had to do something different to right the ship.

Fourth: Standardization. GM divisions were once operated like separate auto companies. The finance guys standardized them to save money. As a result, a Chevy was basically the same as a Pontiac; and a Buick was basically the same as an Oldsmobile. Does this remind you of the way stations are clustered? Of voice tracking?

Think of it this way ... for all the cash flow GM saved by making Oldsmobiles the same as Buicks, didn't they LOSE more in the grand scheme of things due to the fact that there no longer is an Oldsmobile (and Pontiac)? Think of it this way ... for the millions they saved cutting costs on unique Oldsmobile parts, didn't they lose BILLIONS when they had to shut down Oldsmobile?

I think the same thing applies when they have to cut a $25,000 night time DJ in favor of voice tracking or "Art Bell" ... Penny wise and pound foolish? With all the BILLIONS in value these radio companies have lost, it appears so.

Finally: Again, GM is the perfect analogy to Cheap Channel. I'm not a bitter guy in radio, but it is what it is. You cannot deny the parallels. You cannot cut your way into prosperity.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that the first post lies in category #4 (grasping for salvation).

Anonymous said...

With posts and comments like these, it is no wonder Radio has its struggles. The press feasts on conflict and too many of you in the radio industry - or those like John who have been cast out spend far too much time disparaging the very industry that feeds you. Get it together and instead of whining about the problems - spend some time posting solutions. Stop eating your young and start making one of the most important and innovative media more productive.

Anonymous said...

To the last anonymous commentor:

So you are one of those who wants to remain the status quo and just maintain what you already have?

Don't question how this industry has been run into the ground? It is people like you that put us in the position we are in.

You are either a manager hanging on for dear life or a yes man/teacher's pet who will do anything to save your job. Maybe you are one of those who took a 30% paycut to keep your job with CBS radio?

You are the one eating your young not Gorman. He is trying to give them a future if they have the creativity to create change.

Anonymous said...

"With posts and comments like these, it is no wonder Radio has its struggles."

You must mean that if we pretend nothing is wrong it is good for our radio business?

"The press feasts on conflict and too many of you in the radio industry - or those like John who have been cast out spend far too much time disparaging the very industry that feeds you."

You didn't read GOrman's blog very carefully did you? The press is in trouble, too. He is saying that most can see through the phony research being released by radio and the newspapers. Did you not even read his blog?

"Get it together and instead of whining about the problems - spend some time posting solutions. "

If the radio industry started using Gorman's solutions they may actually come up with something. Gorman is right. Some will have to go bankrupt in order for others to change course.

"Stop eating your young and start making one of the most important and innovative media more productive."

I don't even know what you are trying to say. Did you write this without ever reading what Gorman wrote. You sure sound like you did.

Bob Harper said...

John...

You’ve probably heard about the five stages of decline in business: 1. Hubris born of triumph; 2. The unbridled pursuit of more; 3. Denial of risk and peril; 4. Grasping for salvation - and 5 and final - Surrendering to irrelevance or death.

MY FAVORITE IS 4-A:
"PAINT THE PLANES WITH THE NEW LOGO AND COLORS."


Great post,
Bob

The Network said...

Quote from Mr. May,....er Mr. Anonymous:

...Get it together and instead of whining about the problems - spend some time posting solutions. Stop eating your young and start making one of the most important and innovative media more productive...

Okay, here is my solution:

Have Congress force these "holier than thou" conglomerates to sell off the vast majority of their stations (at pennies on the dollar -- their TRUE current value) to other private entities (2 or 3 stations per customer), who can and will do what it takes, both financially and creatively, to make a radio station a "must listen" for tens of thousands of people each day...WITHOUT using nationally syndicated programming.

But of course, Mr. Anonymous, in your eyes, that move would mean you can only control the lives of a few hundred people instead of several thousand people, and the only private plane you'd be able to buy is a used Cessna, not a Gulfstream.

But look on the bright side, it's still more than what most of us will ever see.

Real solutions are a bitch, aint they, Mr. A???

Anonymous said...

John, You may know this already. Some Clear Channel stations were ordered by San Antonio and Bain and Lee in Boston to compare their advertising effectiveness against newspapers. It is a major slam at newspaper advertising.

How can radio expect to gain any credibility when it is a well known fact that radio sales are down as well as their effectiveness because radio runs too many commercials and the ones they do lack imagination and sell quality.

Anonymous said...

Thank you John for not slamming radio or the newspapers and presenting the issue in a dignified and in your slightly signature satirical slant. You know how to cushion the blow.

Radio and newspapers have their work cut out for them to save their industries. I think many stations and newspapers will go under by the end of the year. Those that survive will learn how to be stronger.

In radio's situation it needs fresh ownership and leadership. What is running radio today must be removed. I will remember their names, too.

BTW, WTAM in Cleveland is running that anti-newspaper advertising promo constantly. If they think newspapers are dead why did they try to sue the Plain Dealer and insist on a piece by piece rebuttal to a Julie Washington story on that company's mass firing in January. What makes it even more alarming is that the Plain Dealer actually printed the rebuttal which is clearly not factual. Clear Channel tried to claim they did not change the voice track v. live stature of their stations when in fact they did.

Regardless of that it is a shame that WTAM has to run that anti-newspaper spot when it is more than clear they were scared of that story.

HD Radio Farce said...

"Did you happen to read the new piece-of-you-know-what research claiming that buying smart phone apps for radio stations will automatically translate to actual listening to terrestrial radio on mobile?"

All one has to do is run Compete, Alexa, Quantcast, and Google Trends graphs for iheartradio.com and live365.com versus pandora.com and last.fm:

http://tinyurl.com/m7lakd

Streaming radio stations online will make little difference - radio lacks the social-networking, interactivity, and personalization of these other services.

"How about the one in support of HD Radio, which claims that Microsoft’s latest Zune model will save that digital disaster?"

Aanlysts are calling for Microsoft to abandon the Zune, because Zune sales have crashed:

http://tinyurl.com/m6e5zk

Of course, the HD Radio Alliance will promote the Zune HD for free - two failed technologies in one device. Scratch my back, Struble, I'll scratch yours.

"John, I think Fred Jacobs is tired of you outing him. You should have mentioned his 'false' HD Radio survey that the Alliance made him pull back on."

As far as that 41 question HD Radio survey released by Fred Jacobs, I am the one partly to blame for that debacle. Fred created the 41 question survey on surveymonkey.com, deleted it, but cached version was left behind, which sent to John. Sorry about that Fred...

Anonymous said...

I know he is not the only one. Fred Jacobs is the biggest shill of them all when it comes to manipulating research. If you judge a person by the company they keep just look at Fred. David Rehr was his closest buddy and he designed research to maximize his projects. The same holds true for Jeff Haley at the RAB. Here is the problem for all of them. The ad agencies see right through them. They don't even read them. All Fred is doing is creating the illusion that he is helping the industry when he is not. Just like David Rehr wrote letters and never pressed the flesh in Washington.
Radio CEOS better wake up fast. Let me ask why that piece you linked in Ad Age was never mentioned in most of the radio trades. Why is that? It was the most honest assessment of the industry in recent history.

Anonymous said...

To the jerks that slam Gorman for being honest:
http://www.pcmag.com/article
2/0,2817,2351446,00.asp.

This is what you want? If so, you deserve it.

I would rather see radio, papers, mags be reinvented. Gorman himself has said many times that the great convergence will either save or kill old media. It is how they adapt. It will not be a world the Mays family, Dan Mason, Farid Suleman, Lew Dickey and the other radio CEOs of today can survive in.

There will be new people, former radio people, new media people converging on what was once radio just like FM overtook AM. I hope people like Gorman are part of the new wave of radio.

HD Radio? How long can the ruse go on?

HD Radio Farce said...

"HD Radio? How long can the ruse go on?"

HD Radio may be here for many years. iBiquity needs only about $15,000,000/year to survive, so for the latest round of financing, from 4/5 major radio groups and some institutional investors, this is a drop in the bucket. Even if iBiquity goes under, the HD2/HD3 channels will continue to generate either "white noise", or some jukebox programming, blanking out the smaller, adjacent-channel stations. This may eventually be enough to force digital adoption.

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece. You could actually mention those red wine is good for you studies that were commissioned by the Wine Council. Believe a fraction of what you hear and nothing of what you read.

I agree that radio would do more good for itself by being honest and pointing out that it is aware of its problems and is addressing them - except that would not be true. Lew Dickhead, Dan Mason, Mark Mays and the rest of them still believe every word they utter. That is why their days are numbered.

Radio will be saved, I hope. They won't be, I pray.

Anonymous said...

I'm sick of the media liars and their lies.

Anonymous said...

dont use my name or station please just in case you know who i am. jacobs pitched our gm the same way. instant listeners. new revenue streams. he called me in to ask me about it. i told him we have an automated (except am drive) ac station. it wont do a thing for us. he was impressed wit jacobs's pitch i could tell. i explained to him that our pl is mostly generic. we use the same vt talent thats used at a lot of other ac stations and we should concentrate on our own metro. the gm turned jacobs down and boy was he pissed.

Danny said...

Two more thoughts:

1. Just thought of another GM analogy. Radio to date has been run by the equivalent of number cruncher Roger Smith. Smith and a string of numbers guys ran GM into a ditch. Where is radio's car-guy Bob Lutz, who understands that product is what grows the business, not cost cuts?

2. The Mays' cheap channel strategy has already been proven as a failure. Do some research into the old CHR wars in Tampa between Clear Channel and Jacor. Clear Channel's rather lame Q-105 was Tampa's Number 1 station until WFLZ got a format change and some in-your-face imaging. After that, it got pummeled by Jacor. Jacor also won the talk format with a tighter format and more entertaining talk on WFLA.

As the car guys say, it's all about PRODUCT, PRODUCT, PRODUCT, PRODUCT!

Anonymous said...

John this was a good one.

You are absolutely right about the radio CEOs. Their egos get in the way of radio's reality. They hide behind misleading research.

You are right too that they end up convincing themselves that their lies are real.

Cannot wait for the fire sales and changes.