Monetizing Digital Audio: Streaming Simulcast Or Ad Insertion?

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Friday, Jan 18, 2019 10:06 AM EST | Inside Radio, Inside Radio

Monetizing Digital Audio: Streaming Simulcast Or Ad Insertion?

With more and more AM/FM radio listening coming from streaming, programmers and sales managers are looking for ways to provide a pleasant listening experience while monetizing this growing audience. Dynamic ad insertion technology allows stations to manage the streaming commercials differently than the over-the-air spots, thus providing a differentiated and customized experience for the digital listener and an additional revenue opportunity. However, in PPM markets, a 100% on-air/online simulcast can increase a station’s Total Line Reporting ratings, which in turn could drive up rates by selling the combined audience as one.

There are advantages for both a 100% simulcast of a station and using ad insertion technologies, which can be utilized for the overall stream or used only for listeners outside of a market’s survey area. Inside Radio spoke with two experts – John Rosso, president, Market Development at Triton Digital and Steve Meyers, executive VP of Digital at Beasley Media Group – to provide readers with Five Benefits for both approaches.

Five Benefits Of Using Ad Insertion For Your Station Stream

Better Metrics: While stations in PPM markets may hope to get a ratings bump from Nielsen’s Total Line Reporting, that bump may be minimal and not enough to be able to increase commercial rates. Furthermore, fluctuations and growing pains with Nielsen’s streaming measurement can be a frustration for programmers. “Most of the time streaming listening just doesn’t get properly counted in the Nielsen methodology,” Triton Digital’s John Rosso said. “With our Webcast Metrics we have come up with creative ways for broadcasters in packaging and measuring the local market streaming inventory to make it easier to sell in a traditional spot market place.”

Incremental Revenue: If you can’t charge more for the commercial airtime due to increased ratings, stations should look to sell the streaming inventory separately. While the majority (92%) of AM/FM listening continues to be over the air listening, Edison Research showed that 8% comes from online/mobile listening. Radio reaches 93% of all Americans each week, which equals to 228.5 million consumers. With 8% of listening coming from devices as opposed to radios, that’s a significant amount of audience not to be capitalizing on. “That’s a ton of audience to go unmonetized,” Rosso added. “If you’re not getting the benefit of TLR ratings increases and you’re simulcasting anyway and you’re not monetizing that streaming inventory separately you’re essentially leaving nearly 10% of your audience on the table.”

Addressable Advertising: “The world is moving to addressable advertising and radio is trailing behind other electronic mass media in delivering that addressability,” Rosso stated. TV is moving towards addressable advertising with the proliferation of set top boxes and over the top video and on demand. “Because of the infrastructure – meaning the billion plus AM and FM radio receivers that are in the United States today that don’t allow you to do any kind of addressability – the only opportunity radio has to tap into the digital advertising marketplace that demands this kind of addressability is the online inventory.”

More Granular To Sell: In a major PPM market it may not make business sense for a small regional business owner to justify the cost of advertising on a top-rated radio station to broadcast its message to a large portion of the metro that will never be potential customers.

Outside Sales Help: Stations who may not have the means to have a dedicated sales staff to sell the stream can take advantage of outside vendors and programmatic marketplaces to maximize streaming inventory. TargetSpot, DAX and Katz are a few of the groups that sell streaming inventory. Two main programmatic marketplaces are AdWave and Triton’s a2x. This is a rapidly growing marketplace for streaming audio. Rosso told Inside Radio that the a2x volume “doubles every six months.”

Five Benefits Of Simulcasting Your Station Stream

Total Line Reporting: In Nielsen PPM markets, programmers benefit from Total Line Reporting, where Nielsen combines the in-market listenership of station streams with the station’s over the air PPM-generated ratings. “In some cases, Beasley stations have seen significant material increases in rankings due to this methodology,” Meyers said.

Using A Mixed Approach: While a full streaming simulcast of your station can bring a local market ratings benefit, the ratings residual does not carry over to out-of-market listeners. Some operators employ a two-pronged approach – simulcasting the station in-market, while using dynamic ad insertion for those listening outside the DMA. “This technique allows stations to leverage Nielsen’s total line reporting for in-market ratings lift while also allowing additional revenue lift by geotargeting ads out of market,” Meyers explained.

Trafficking The Stream: Using ad insertion for a station stream means managing another station’s worth of inventory. “There is a need to traffic, curate and maintain those ads and fill content,” Meyers said. “That additional workload in many cases requires more resources than a station can adequately staff, thus the experience of the stream may suffer.” Meyers said simulcasting removes this burden, “but at the cost of differentiated content.”

Additional Tech Needs: Station streams need attention. You cannot simply “set and forget” them. When not properly cared for, the transition from the station broadcast to the ad insertion portion to cover over-the-air spots can be anything but smooth. “In order to keep ad insertion tight and clean, there are initial and ongoing engineering requirements to maintain the integration between the radio stations’ automation systems and the streaming/ad insertion provider,” Meyers elaborated. This integration overhead is eliminated when simulcasting station programming on the stream.

Listener Experience: Managing two separate commercial logs, avoiding a clunky transition to inserted ads, or providing evergreen content to fill the stream during stopsets requires additional resources – although it is a manageable problem. “With simulcasting, the station can be assured that what is heard (and monitored) on the over the air broadcast is what is being heard on the stream,” Meyers stated. “When utilizing dynamic insertion, stations really need to be monitoring both the over the air and streaming broadcasts as almost two separate stations to ensure a great listener experience.”

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