Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Three Take Aways From Our Time On The Road

I rarely listen to sports talk radio unless I’m on a cross-country road trip such as the one my English bulldog Mugsy, and I completed last week.

Unrelated to sports, three things stood out to me from sporadically listening to those shows besides learning that “deflategate” involved only one football, not twelve as had been widely reported. 

Sports fans love conspiracies (e.g. the Seahawks called the last play to make sure a certain player was not the MVP had the team won.)

Now there is speculation that it was the Colts who deflated the one ball found to be underinflated after it had been in that teams possession, not the Patriots as alleged (smile.)

One of the things that caught my attention was an expert who explained how many people confuse confidence and arrogance.

This is a misperception that has often been made about me since high school and one that some fans make about Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady who led his team to four Super Bowl championships after not being drafted until the199th player chosen.

One of my favorite explanations of the difference between confidence and arrogance is one I read just before I retired by Harvey Mackay, the author of Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive:

“Confidence in one's ability is a critical element in the willingness to take risks while still steering the ship. Arrogance takes risks by assuming everyone will get on board even when the boat has a hole in it.”

The second thing that caught my attention was something I’ve rarely  heard discussed publically among people who are black.  It was when Larry Foote, a middle linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals called Marshawn Lynch, the star fullback of the Seattle Seahawks, out for antics during the Super Bowl:

“I’m from the same type of urban environment that he’s from and the biggest message that he’s giving these kids, he might not want to admit it, is the hell with authority.

‘I don’t care, fine me, I’m gonna grab my crotch, I’m gonna do it my way.’ In the real world, it doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t.

How can you keep a job. I mean, you got these inner city kids, they don’t listen to teachers, they don’t listen to police officers, principals and these guys can’t even keep a job because they say ‘F’ authority.”

It was the kind of introspective candor that would have given the protests related to events in Ferguson, Missouri during our cross country trip last summer so much more credibility among those who were skeptical.

But enough about sports.

The last observation that caught my attention was a hint of desperation by one talk show host when, with relief in his voice, he inferred that a drop in audience was due to younger listeners time-shifting with podcasts.

I was listening to those talk shows on satellite radio but often I would stream music via Pandora from my smartphone, and I wondered just how prevalent that has become via any of the music streaming services.

At our next overnight stop, I drilled down into the details of a study of music streamers (at least monthly) and non-streamers (use it less than monthly or not at all including non-music listeners.)

Non-streamers over-index to genres like country or folk or a combination such as roots music so I am in the minority there.

Music streamers, according to the study, are only slightly (63% to 61%) more likely to listen to music in their cars but far more likely to listen to music at home and three times as likely to listen to it while traveling, as I was.

Non-streamers are only comparable when listening to music on a computer.

Interestingly, Spotify commissioned the study to learn more about how streamers vs. non-streamers connect to brands.  It turns out that streamers are nearly twice as likely to feel emotionally connected to a brand and more importantly to be an advocate.

A separate tracking study by Blueshift Research shows that among music streamers, 40.9% use Pandora Free (which includes advertising,) 25.4% use YouTube, 11.8% use Spotify Free and iHeart Radio each and 10.3% use iTunes Free.

Only 2% in my age bracket pay to a fee to avoid the ads as I do.  Indicative of how fast streaming is being adopted as a music alternative to radio, only 31.7% have yet to access it.

That is now nearly the same percentage of Americans (30.6%) who do not pay for TV in their homes.  Many Americans, 38.7% of those ages 18-29, have never had pay TV service such as cable or satellite.

Of Americans who are cord cutters, 10.4% have shifted to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu and 7.6% have reverted to free TV using an antenna.  The average streamer uses 2.3 services.

Even more interesting is that 60.5% of cord cutters are women including 21% with children younger than 5 living with them.  Some of this is due to how costly and inflexible pay packages became but a good deal has to do with advertising.

Traditional advertising is a form of “yelling” to get your attention rather than earning it.  Savvy parents know how unpredictably inappropriate much of this yelling is for young people.

Paid television, may soon be dominated, as sports talk radio is, by advertising relevant only to some adult males.

Every form of advertising has slipped since 2008.  Even garish digital billboards have not stopped the decline of outdoor advertising use, now relevant to less than 2% of consumers and known more for clear cutting roadside forests and desecrating views.

Online advertising, though, has increased during this span nearly 300%, most of that now as content-driven advertising, delivered not as interruption but there when you need it.

According to a new report by Borrell Associates, true digital advertising such as this has now grown to the “dominance newspapers enjoyed for years, until the late 1990s.”

We look at services such as Uber as disrupting the way we access vehicles for hire but according to analysts at BIA/Kelsey, they may be signaling a revolution in how we access all goods and services at the local level (aka ODLS or On-Demand Local Services.)

Nowhere is this change more relevant than to small and medium size businesses and organizations (SMBs.)  It is not just the final nail in the coffin for traditional advertising at any level but a revolution in marketing.

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