Agencies are paying attention to internet radio services, thanks to the move to mobile and the demand for consumer choice. Research firm eMarketer estimates there will be 159.8 million digital radio listeners in 2014, and that figure will grow to 183.4 million in 2018. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’ll grab ad dollars away from terrestrial radio. Rather, digital listening in all its permutations will become part of the multi-channel and multi-media marketing mix. How to do a multiplatform (Hispanic Audio Buy).
Internet radio, aka streaming audio aka digital radio, comprises digital-native services, as opposed to the digital offerings of terrestrial radio stations. As such, they’re true hybrids, marrying audio with the tools for delivering, tracking and analyzing consumption.
Putting together an audio campaign is a collaboration between digital and audio planning teams.
Most have similar ad models: audio pre-rolls, display ads on the interface, branded custom stations and playlists. And they’re eager to work with agencies to develop custom programs, according to Mina Kamarasheva, associate managing director, audio and promotions, for Horizon Media.
“They understand this is the future and are now beginning to offer custom promotion opportunities. For Pandora, that’s limited to national campaigns versus local. But this is an area they see tremendous growth to come,” Kamarasheva says.
Stacking up the stations
Nielsen’s purchase of Arbitron last year is expected to lead to industry-standard audience measurement of audio content, letting internet radio stack up, apples-to-apples, against terrestrial radio. Until that day comes, media buyers must rely on the services’ own audience reports delivered via press release or SEC filing. Pandora is the top service, in terms of audience and brand — and the only one that responded to requests for comment.
- Pandora: 73.4 million active users
- iHeartRadio: 40+ million registered users
- TuneIn Radio: 40+ million active users
- Spotify: 6+ million paying users; 24 million active users
Getting the Hispanic ear
Reaching Hispanic consumers means being as device-agnostic as possible, and this is an area where Kamarasheva gives Pandora high marks. “Pandora has invested in proprietary cross-platform targeting using psychographics and behavioral attributes, in addition to registration data. That means we are following our target demographic online regardless of what they are listening to,” she says.
Pandora likes to start an advertiser relationship by identifying the target audience. “From there, we can provide counsel on both their media buy and the creative solutions that will reach their target audiences,” says Mike Reid, executive director of multicultural sales at Pandora.
In fact, according to Reid, Pandora now offers more than 100 targeting points. “In the case of Hispanic targeting, we have been able to build even more robust models, based on registration information and public sources, which also help us tie music preferences to our Hispanic audience.” This also lets the service reach Hispanics regardless of their musical taste. Pandora estimates that one out of four Hispanics in the United States listens to it.
“Looking back on my previous experience in the Hispanic media business, advertisers traditionally had to go to Spanish radio to reach Hispanics or try radio stations with a Hispanic leaning. With Pandora, advertisers can reach Hispanics more directly through our targeting capabilities,” Reid says.
One campaign for T-Mobile used Pandora Premieres, which provides an exclusive pre-release of a new album every week. In June 2013, the sixth Premieres featured “Vives En Mi,” by La Maquinaria Nortena, an emerging banda/chichuaha group from Mexico. Mexican electronics manufacturer Famsa recently joined the roster of national and local brands working with Pandora to target Hispanics.
Horizon’s Kamarasheva says the ability to create custom stations or sponsor categories or genres is important. “It presents a unique opportunity to customize an audio campaign. You can’t do that with terrestrial radio.”
Buying streaming audio is a bit more complex than buying digital or radio, simply because it’s a bit of both, and also because of the ability to add display or branding to the interfaces. Horizon has merged the buying of every kind of audio ad, including terrestrial and internet radio. Says Kamarasheva, “We believe the way consumers consume audio these days is across multiple platforms. Therefore, putting together our campaigns is collaboration between digital and audio planning teams.”
“We purchase these platforms similar to the way we evaluate other digital properties, but there are some differences,” says Jamie Snider, associate director of digital media at Lowe Campbell Ewald. “Of course, we want to make certain that they deliver the audiences most important to us, both in total and within key geographic markets, and we must make certain that consumers are engaging with the brand.”
Lowe Campbell Ewald has run a number of successful Hispanic campaigns on internet radio, including work for Kaiser Permanente. The agency likes to incorporate video as well as audio advertising, either as pre-rolls or combined with custom stations. Video ads usually run automatically when a listener changes stations — and all creative is optimized for both Android and iOS devices.
Agencies can take advantage of robust tracking and analytics provided by each station. Again, they need to take a hybrid approach, says Snider, looking not only at clicks but also the number of station downloads and the number of minutes listened.
Future of radio
Late last year, Clear Channel bought iHeartRadio, which lets people listen to live radio or custom stations, or create their own, offers pre-roll ads, as well as the ability to create branded custom stations. Horizon recently inked a partnership deal with Clear Channel that includes some customized shows at iHeartRadio Theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The national media owner and the agency also plan to fuse their research: The two companies believe that Horizon’s proprietary audience research and analytics tools combined with Clear Channel Media’s music and consumer research can help them develop new models for media.
This kind of consolidation could be in the future for most or all internet radio stations. Having an owner with deep pockets, wide audiences and integrated advertising capabilities could let streaming music services thrive, while traditional media companies expanded their reach even more. There’d be a bit of irony to the digital natives being gobbled up by old-timers but also a lot of sense — and possibly a lot of cents.