Not everyone needs an app. Given the success of Apples App Store and now the launch of Google Chrome’s app store the buzz has created a feeling of needing an app in a mobile world. There has been such a rush to keep up with the cool factor that many have lost site of a consumer’s more typical means of accessing your content – via the web. Most are aware that if we try and access a regular website on a mobile device frustration inevitably is the outcome. The font is so small it can’t be read or you have to scroll across or down repeatedly or images don’t render correctly (if the page will even load) leaving large gaping holes on the page. I tried to access CBS’ KROQ-FM on my phone. Here is a screen shot on my iPhone.
I clicked on the “Listen Live” button on their website accessed via my phone (can you even read it?). Yes Apple does not support flash but this did not have to happen if a mobile web site was created note: even though the player stated I could access an older version it was still flash based and would not load. Am I the only one who as ever tried doing this? Do you think audience has been reduced due to these types of issues? This problem can be resolved by developing a mobile web application that automatically redirects a user to the mobile site.
Apps are static and for the most part you need to return to the developer to make changes. Apps are much more costly to develop especially considering the need for a different version for the three major operating systems. They also involve approval in whatever store they are being listed in which takes time.
One of the reasons apps have been popular is that someone actually took time to think about how content would be rendered on a mobile platform. Being mobile adds another dimension to what consumers need in a website. Not every business needs an app and soon I am going to need an apps manager to manage all my apps. There are a number of platforms that allow the user to create a mobile web site. They are significantly more cost effective than developing an app and changes can easily be made and published immediately. Creating a mobile website also involves thinking about the small screen size and important features someone in a mobile environment needs.
Angel Street Capital is currently considering an investment in one such company, MoFuse, Inc. MoFuse is a DIY platform and is easy to use. I will be covering MoFuse in more depth in a later post.
Today DiJiPOP announced that it has secured an additioanal round of equity financing in the amount of $1 Million. Angel Street participated in this round which was led by a fellow angel investor William Cesare. DiJiPOP is headquartered in Rhode Island and was launched out of the start up incubator program Betaspring in 2009. Angel Street also had invested in Betaspring. DiJiPOP helps e-commerce retailers better manage ad space on their site, by providing a highly targeted automated solution that easily embeds into the retailer’s site. The new money raised will be used for sales and marketing expansion, technology development and creating of a client services division.
We were drawn to several positive aspects of DiJiPOP including its experienced management team and advertising technology platform that results in a recurring revenue model. We are quite familiar with ad platforms having developed one for Internet radio while we owned Ando Media, LLC.
With terrestrial radio we had studies by Arbitron and others that broke down the composition of a format’s demographic audience (20% 18-34, Soft AC skewed more female, etc.). This information was based on data collected from the people who filled out a diary. Location based advertising was somewhat easier because a station’s over the air signal only covered a specific area and in many cases a defined Arbitron metro. Advertisers targeted audience based on format and market. Other qualitative information for the most part was missing or again was based on format.
With Internet radio we have the ability to know the exact number of listeners, where they are located, demographic and other qualitative information. Let’s discuss each of them:
- Location – at the very least based on IP address we can with about 80% accuracy know where a listener is located. Total accuracy can come from requiring audience registration (many station are reluctant to do this as they feel listeners will just click away to another station) or from the use of a cookie.
- Demographic – While format can still be utilized information could be obtained with listener registration information
- Qualitative – This can be obtained with the use of a cookie and tracking where a listener goes on the internet
As a result Internet radio has the ability to better target advertiser messages. In a mobile context, a 19 year old male could be served up an ad for a free slice of pizza when walking by House of Pizza at 4:30 pm. Targeting makes ads more efficient. However there is also a down side. When you start slicing segments of an audience you often have difficulty in generating enough impressions. This problem will be mitigated as Internet radio audience continues to grow.
From a technology standpoint Ando Media, the largest Internet radio ad insertion company has a server side targeting system. Many companies such as Target Spot utilize a player based system. Player based systems have limitations as there are many ways of consuming Internet audio where a player does not exist (mobile and audio devices such as Sonos).
Ad agencies are striving to be more efficient investing their client funds. Even if targeting did not exist with Internet radio you know that an ad was actually heard and where it was heard as compared with terrestrial radio’s estimate that it was heard – I believe this to be very powerful.
Many have debated what the in car audio solution will be. My vision is shaped by the device we all carry today that has so many functions. It’s hard to think about creating a new system to manage our audio in car experience. As a result my vote is for better integration with a car stereo system and display. Several auto manufacturers have taken this approach including Ford’s Sync which connects via Blue tooth. The way content is organized and displayed is the key. In car listening represents approximately 40% of all radio listening. Rather than the 20 choices you may have today (terrestrial radio) in your local market, with Internet radio you can now listen to thousands of different station or through services like Pandora, create your own station. Obviously this is going to have a significant effect on terrestrial radio listening and why pay for satellite radio (except where there is exclusive content). Terrestrial radio, given its fragmented nature (do most people know who Citadel or Saga is?) does not have a brand while Pandora has almost become the generic name for Internet radio. So while terrestrial radio will certainly be present both over the air and through streaming there are going to be many more options.
Given the risk of distraction while driving there are some companies such as Radio Time that are trying to make the enormous world of choice in Internet radio listening more organized in an easy to use guide. Radio Time has been working quietly behinds the scenes for many years to get their guide established in consumer devices. They are now gaining some traction in-car as well. Another company working to make the in-car audio experience better is Livio Radio. Livio has built devices and mobile applications where the display is customized for this environment. Livio has teamed with Pandora and Radio time to bring an enormous selection of Internet radio station including both Internet only and terrestrial stations that are streaming.
Within the next year we should see the future of in-car audio much more clearly.
We just returned from the Fall National Association of Broadcasters convention in Washington, D.C. The mood was significantly more upbeat given the positive growth in radio revenue this year. One of the key themes of the convention was developing a digital strategy. Of course there are those who don’t want to acknowledge that the world has changed. Advertisers now have a way to measure results and be more efficient in their advertising expenditures. This structural shift in advertising has taken a heavy toll on traditional media including the radio industry. Lay a recession on top and well 2009 was a year the industry would like to forget. However, increasing revenue in 2010 has caused some to believe that “radio is back” and that digital is not important.
The radio industry is confused as there are so many different strategies and groups hawking digital initiatives and tools including social, web site, mobile, couponing, etc. Some of these products have a “cool” factor but I question the ability for a station to generate revenue given what little resources are being devoted. Just having a tool does not lead to revenue generation. In one of the panels a gentlemen lamented that he had done everything recommended, he had a non-station centric website, he was streaming, using Ando, but had no clue as to how to effectively monetize it all. Someone needs to bring some order and research to this chaos. In future blogs we plan on addressing each of the silos in a station’s digital media arsenal.