03/14

Radio is not “Just About Radio”

Radio is "Not Just About Radio"Mark Kassof wrote about some interesting research where he concluded that Pandora “is not just about radio.”

Of course Pandora “isn’t just about radio,” but nor is radio “just about radio.”

Is it “about radio” when your station monetizes a daily deals platform?  Is it “about radio” when local events turn a profit for your brand?  Is it “about radio” when you are monetizing your streams or videos or other digital content elements that live in on a platform other than “radio.”

In fact, it’s never “about radio.”  It’s always about consumers and your clients and how to gather them in each other’s presence and in the presence of your brand.

The notion that, as Kassof explains, “Pandora listening is not all at terrestrial radio’s expense!  It could be time listening to iPods, CDs, Sirius/XM, etc.” should surprise no one, but nor should it cheer you.  Since – unlike iPods and CDs and SiriusXM – your local clients can advertise on Pandora, thus it is competitive with your brands in ways that iPods and CD’s and SiriusXM are not.

How much of the usage Pandora steals from radio consumers is enough? How much is too much? And how much should you sigh in relief when you hear that Pandora users might consider a CD as a second choice when presented with the extraordinarily hypothetical scenario that “the site is down,” when radio consumers are very likely to do the same thing under a similar far-out scenario?

Kassof goes on:

What piqued my curiosity about Pandora is the fact it doesn’t show up as a radio station in our research. When we ask listeners which stations they’ve listened to in the past week, they never mention Pandora! In contrast, many mention Sirius/XM as a “radio station.”

It’s all about how you ask the question.  Indeed, Pandora absolutely, positively shows up in my research alongside radio stations – although not as often as SiriusXM.  And this is particularly true in the larger markets, as my clients have seen firsthand.  And if you have any doubts just ask your consumers.

Besides, what constitutes a “radio station” is irrelevant.  What matters is where consumers go for content that substitutes for the time they would otherwise spend with “radio,” what the scale of that usage is, and whether or not that destination may be supported by advertisers, locally and/or nationally. Pandora scores on all three measures.

We need to always remember that while Pandora and others can encroach on radio’s turf, radio can likewise creep onto the turf of every other media company in every other corner of our markets.  That is radio’s long-term advantage – using the power of our megaphone to link consumers and clients throughout our markets no matter what platform they want to play together on.

And it all begins with seeing the world as it is, not as it used to be.

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  • Harvey

    “What constitutes a ‘radio station’ is irrelevant.” Exactly. All this incessant debate about whether Pandora is or isn’t “radio” — who cares? Anyone with a pulse should understand that Pandora is an attractive, powerful, and still-growing entertainment alternative. It doesn’t matter how a consumer labels it. Whether Pandora is built on a sustainable financial model — a question well beyond the scope of my minimal business acumen — now THAT’S relevant.

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