Not Getting Boxed in by Pandora

A few weeks back we looked at the TSL that terrestrial radio is leaking to internet radio players like Pandora.  We showed that the epicenter of the leakage isn’t among tech-savvy younger men, but rather among younger women.  So, as we face increasing competition from these pure-play competitors with minimal commercial presence and strong personalization, what will help us to keep consumers coming back to our programming?

In this year’s NuVoodoo Ratings Prospect Study we asked consumers to compare terrestrial to “other media choices today” in hopes of getting an idea of what it is that will help us hold on to the ears we have today.  Broken out by format P1 groups in our national sample, most – but not all – respond about music: biggest current hits or gold.  But, among the CHR and Urban P1’s, being the local connection for events and places to go is a strong card to play.


And it’s not that the lower-ranking items are not valuable – they’re just valuable to smaller portions of the listeners.  Beyond the music itself and the local scene, new music discovery is of value to a sizable number of listeners.  But, it’s up to us to present, promote and support those efforts to build real value for listeners.  And, of course, these five are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many other benefits and attributes that terrestrial can bring to bear against internet radio.

We also asked respondents to select beyond-the-music elements that add to their listening enjoyment with terrestrial.  Even this list of six types of content varies widely by format constituency and demonstrates that the winning added-value proposition will be no single thing.  It will be a number of things for every station.


What these numbers and the others shown here seek to do is set a starting point for further inquiry. What are the trump cards for your station?  How much weight should you put on each of these attributes?  How can you delight your listeners every day?  Every hour?  Every quarter hour?

Good programmers maintain sufficient frequency with promos to get messages through to lighter listeners, while varying the style of those messages so they don’t become annoying and repetitive for heavier listeners.  Similarly, we’ll need to satisfy one group of listeners with being their touchstone for great things that are happening in their town, while being expert curators of the greatest music ever for another group.

The most important thing we can do is to do something.  Take action.  Naturally, those actions should be well-reasoned, based in logic and supported by consumer insights.  You’ll need to consider the impact of any actions on the existing users of the station and determine the necessary communication strategy.  And there should be a plan in place to measure whether the action is a positive.

With terrestrial TSL under attack from pure-play internet radio competitors, doing nothing fits Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”