Radio changes stations and social media goes pro

In this installment of Michael Carney’s Marketing Week:

  • What’s the frequency, Kenneth?
  • Big corporates to social media: ‘Hey, you can actually make us money’. So how can New Zealand businesses tap into it?
  • Virtually possible: eWestfield on the cards.
  • Rupert Murdoch begins his paid content experiment in earnest as the timesonline.co.uk closes its doors.
  • Close enough is not good enough when it comes to advertising, as one Christchurch car yard recently found out.
  • Google plans its next assault. This time, music.

Mixed Signals

It’s now close to twenty years since broadcasting in New Zealand was deregulated, and radio and television frequencies sold off en masse to the highest bidder (although at the second-highest price, the theory at the time being that the winning bidder only had to pay what their nearest rival was willing to fork out).

The licences thus sold were issued for 20-year periods, which means it’s renewal time. In some markets (the UK in particular springs to mind) such renewals have meant a new auction process, with all broadcasters forced to bid extremely large sums of money to retain their frequencies – and those bids have not always been successful.

The New Zealand Government has opted for renewal rather than re-tendering, a decision which will please existing broadcasters and their shareholders (although potential media moguls will of course be bitterly disappointed). But the new licence round has given regulators an opportunity to tidy up the FM band in particular, bringing our FM broadcasting framework into line with international standards.

As a result, between now and April 2011 a significant number of radio stations will be changing their frequencies. In total there will be around 250 changes across the whole of New Zealand, that’s around a third of frequencies. Changes are staggered, mostly so as to minimise the resources that would otherwise be required if the changeover was simultaneous across so many geographically-scattered locations.

The changes are mostly minor, but they do threaten to disrupt existing listening habits, as consumers forced to retune their radios perhaps take the opportunity to sample other stations.

Wellington listeners will be particularly inconvenienced, with eleven stations switching frequencies, not all at once but over a period of several weeks during October and November. “Find the disappearing station” will become a popular game during the lead-up to Christmas shopping. Not a terribly smart move from a commercial perspective, we’d have thought.

We won’t burden you with the full list (see www.frequencyfinder.co.nz if you’re a collector of such arcane trivia), but here’s what’s happening across the five main centres. Stations not listed aren’t changing their frequencies.

AUCKLAND: Flava From 96.1 to 95.8 on 7 July 2010; George From 96.8 to 96.6 on 7 July 2010

HAMILTON: Breeze From 99.3 FM to 99.4 FM on 30 Jun 2010; Hauraki From 96 FM to 96.2 FM on 30 Jun 2010; More From 92 FM to 92.2 FM on 30 Jun 2010; Radio Live From 100 FM to 100.2 FM on 30 Jun 2010

WELLINGTON: Atiawa Toa From 96.9 FM to 100.9 FM on 27 Oct 2010; Breeze From 98.1 FM to 98.5 FM on 13 Oct 2010; Classic Hits From 90 FM to 90.1 FM on 3 Nov 2010; EasyMix From 93.5 FM to 93.7 FM on 27 Oct 2010; Hauraki From 93.1 FM to 93.3 FM on 10 Nov 2010; Radio Active From 89 FM to 88.6 FM on 3 Nov 2010; Radio Live From 98.7 FM to 98.9 FM on 13 Oct 2010; Radio New Zealand Concert From 95.6 FM to 96.1 FM on 27 Oct 2010; Radio New Zealand National From 104.5 FM to 101.7 FM; Solid Gold From 97.5 FM to 97.3 FM on 17 Nov 2010; The Rock From 96.3 FM to 96.5 FM on 20 Oct 2010

CHRISTCHURCH: No Changes. DUNEDIN: No Changes.

Social Media: Where’s The Money?

All that most businesses really want to know about social media is how to use this latest and greatest toy to make more money selling their products or services. Performics, a Publicis-owned unit, wanted to find out the same thing, so it conducted an online survey of US consumers who access at least one social network regularly. The objective: to determine what kind of impact social networking has on the purchase process.

Here’s what they found out, from 3,011 US consumers:

  • 34% have used a search engine to find information on a product/service/brand after seeing an advertisement on a social networking site
  • 30% have learned about a new product, service and/or brand from a social networking site
  • 27% are receptive to invitations to events, special offers or promotions from advertisers communicated to them through social networking sites
  • 25% have gone directly to an online retailer or ecommerce site after learning about a product/service/brand via a social networking site
  • 25% have recommended a product/service/brand to their friends via a social networking site
  • 20% have discussed products/services/brands on social networking sites after seeing an ad elsewhere

In other words, Social Media CAN convert into money. But first you need to be there.

Performics isn’t the only US organisation to get serious about Social Media. Research giant Nielsen has just put its social media monitoring service BuzzMetrics into a joint venture with management consultants McKinsey, intending to ‘fuse social media’ into client companies.

Headquartered in New York, the joint venture is to be called NM Incite. NM Incite expects to have offerings for pilot clients in the autumn in the areas of measuring and improving marketing effectiveness, product-launch optimisation and customer service experience. Why would these two highly capable enterprises join forces in such a fashion?

Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey, said: “Social media is an increasingly critical issue for business leaders and an area of untapped opportunity for many of our clients. This joint venture will equip institutions with real-time insights to help their leaders drive better results.”

More compellingly, here’s what the joint venture’s new chief exec, Dave Hudson, had to say about the NM Incite mission:

“Increasingly, I seem to get asked the same question, ‘how do I take advantage of social media?’ This question is partly driven by the recognition that social media is huge. (According to Nielsen’s newly released May 2010 data, three quarters of U.S. online users visit social media sites regularly spending about 5.5 hours a month visiting social networking sites at the workplace alone). It’s also driven by executives’ belief that social media data is full of incredibly valuable information and insights into consumers.

“What’s really at the core of these questions is the sense that social media has the potential to transform their business. And that the most sophisticated companies are starting to harness this wisdom – this social media intelligence – to create competitive advantage. Some are pros, others are novices, but many still struggle with how to do it, let alone how to do it quickly.

“Consumer content and opinion is now inseparable from the purchase process, and social networks are now becoming an invaluable sounding board for all manner of product ideas and feedback. Billions of consumers now regularly access the internet and increasingly comment on products and services. Recent data suggests that two thirds of consumers won’t make a purchase decision without checking consumer opinions online.

“For many companies, social media insights have been locked in functional silos, making it difficult to leverage across the organization. Many of these same companies also struggle with how to interpret the volume of data generated by social media and which measures they should focus on. These are difficult problems to solve. And it’s even more difficult if you are trying to truly unleash the potential of social media across an organization, through product development, marketing and communications, customer service, supply chain and resource planning.”

Okay, that’s the corporate-speak. Here’s how we see it: social media just went pro. Serious players have just stepped into the ring and said “Corporate America needs to know what’s going on in this new environment – consumers are talking about them, they need to know what’s being said, how and by whom.”

Is social media worth the effort in New Zealand yet?

Social Media has now reached the tipping point, in New Zealand as elsewhere, with more than half the internet population now regularly engaging in social media. If you’re not already operating in the social sphere, time to get started. So, where do you start? Well, you could do one of our social media e-courses (the next one starts on on Monday 5 July). Or, if that all seems too much like hard work, you could just engage us to undertake a Social Media Audit of your business and your product categories, which would then serve as the basis either for proceeding with your own social media programme within your organisation, or outsourcing to the appropriate specialists.

Here’s what our Social Media Audit covers:

1. AUDIENCE ANALYSIS: Identifying where your customers and prospects gather in social media; reviewing what their interests, needs and wants are; and determining how your products or services might be successfully promoted to them in a social networking environment

2. MONITORING & EVALUATING: What consumers are currently saying about you (or, worse, not); what they’re saying about your competitors; what they’re saying about your product category; what your competitors are doing in the social space; global best practice in your product or service category

3. INFLUENCER ANALYTICS: Identifying the likely influencers with your target audience; determining what will appeal to those influencers.

4. RISK ASSESSMENT: Assessing current and projected risks in the social sphere; determining appropriate responses to negative comment

5. RECOMMENDATIONS: Recommended Social Media Objectives; recommended Social Media Strategies; recommended Social Media Tactics; recommended Social Media Programme; recommended Social Media Optimisation

6. R.O.I. STRATEGIES: A programme which establishes appropriate benchmarks against which to measure Social Media Return On Investment.

Audit spaces are limited. Email [email protected] for more information.


AdNews Australia is reporting that Westfield is preparing to enter the world of e-commerce with plans to launch Australia’s first virtual shopping centre 10 years after it abandoned similar plans. According to AdNews, the e-commerce site is likely to be fashion led, with other categories set to include electronics and books. Westfield ditched plans to launch a virtual shopping centre 10 years ago, fearing that the venture could cannibalise footfall at Westfield malls.

The whole concept of a virtual shopping mall has always been regarded as suspect. In the real world, it makes sense to offer a range of shopping facilities within easy reach. In the online environment, where everything is just a click away, not so much.

Well, that was the perceived wisdom. In reality, however, knowledge rather than distance has been the barrier to online shopping. In markets such as Australia and New Zealand where e-commerce offerings are limited, a virtual “shopping precinct” is really just a curated shopping directory.

We can and do turn to Google when we know what we’re looking for – but when we just want to window shop, it’s a lot harder to know where to start. Given Westfield’s current roster of tenants, it should be relatively easy for them to assemble a serious lineup of digital attractions.

If you’re contemplating online commerce any time soon, you just may need to factor Westfield into the equation. You’ll need to consider whether or not to cough up to be included in their virtual mall, of course. New Zealand’s e-commerce graveyard is littered with the virtual corpses of flying pigs and former ferrits, alas. But this time the elephant could be on its way. White, or large enough to make a difference? Too soon to call, but really important to ponder.

It Begins

Rupert’s experiment with paid content has begun in earnest. The UK’s Times Online website, timesonline.co.uk is no more, replaced by two new websites, thetimes.co.uk and thesundaytimes.co.uk, that require registration (and, soon enough, payment). What does this mean? A whole heap of possibilities present themselves:

  • Newspapers everywhere move to paid content. Consumers grumble but eventually enough of them pay up to make the transition permanent. If you want the news of record, you have to subscribe.
  • Some newspapers make the move to paid; but enough stay free to spoil the migration. Consumers switch their attention to free as they usually do; some of those who hoped to be paid re-open the doors to content given away.
  • The economy recovers and newspapers go back to treating their websites as marketing tools. Content remains mostly free.
  • Newspapers move to paid websites. Consumers switch their attention to bloggers, radio and TV news websites, Google News, etc etc. Newspapers become less and less accessible (and suffer as a result).
  • Everyone gets an iPad and is happy to pay Apple for news.
  • Everyone else gets an Androidopad and is happy to pay Google for news.

To choose the correct solution, click here.

Near Enough Not good Enough

A Christchurch car yard has just been pinged by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for running a newspaper ad featuring an image of a top of the line vehicle but carrying the price of a cheaper variant.

The advertisement for Cockram Motors showed four vehicles including a Nissan Tida Ti hatchback. Under the vehicle’s image, the ad said “just $24,995 driveway” in bold red text and “Ti shown” in smaller grey print. A complaint to the ASA said the ad attempted to “dupe the reader” because the price advertised was for the cheaper ST model.

“The Ti, in Nissan’s case, or other top-of-the-line models elsewhere, always looks better to the eye,” the complainant said. “The idea is to get people into the sales yard and then once there, you are told that to buy the car in the picture it will cost ex-amount more.”

Cockram Motors’ advertising agency said it was not provided with a photograph of the Tida ST and instead used a “particular model or sub-brand that represents the range of variants”.

“As required by the Code of Ethics the advertisement states that it is the Ti variant illustrated,” the agency said. “We agree that this is not the best way to illustrate the ST advertised — however the only exterior difference between the two variants Ti and ST is the alloy wheels.”

The ASA ruled the ad was misleading and the disclaimer “Ti shown” was “not adequate in size or position”.

It was not acceptable to show a superior model of car to that on offer without making it clear and obvious to the consumer, it said.

The whole case is a useful reminder of the importance of getting things right. In the bygone era of the Mad Men, this type of substitution would not only have been overlooked but (if it was discovered) would have been applauded — “bait and switch” was regarded as a mostly legitimate advertising technique back in the day.

Not any more. Although (or at least so it seems to us) there are precedents even today — we occasionally see TV ads with some zippy automobile caressing mountain roads and looking totally desirable, while a reasonably visible caption tells us something like “European model shown”. We daresay the disclaimers are big enough to make the resulting messages acceptable, since the cost of reshooting the commercials locally would be prohibitive — but these examples perhaps send the wrong signal to those facing similar availability issues on a smaller scale.

In this instance, the offenders have been taken to the Advertising Standards Authority, who have ruled accordingly. The result might have been far worse if the complainant had instead taken the matter to the court of public opinion — what if he or she had been a blogger or tweeter who chose to turn the matter into their own personal crusade?

Honesty is not only the best policy, it’s a survival imperative in today’s consumer-centric world.

Google Music?

CNET is reporting that Google could launch a music service that offers song downloads and streaming music later this year. Google has already signaled that it wishes to give users of phones equipped with Google’s Android operating system a better music offering. At Google’s I/O conference last month, the search engine offered attendees a demonstration of a Web-based iTunes competitor.

But Google’s plans go beyond Android, say music sector insiders. CNET has learned that Google first stoked excitement among executives at some of the top four major labels during the Consumer Electronics Show in January. That’s where they revealed some of the features that a Google music store might include, such as tying digital downloads and streaming music to Google’s search results.

Google first tried linking songs to search last fall. The company launched Music Onebox and enabled people searching for song titles to stream the tunes via online music stores Lala.com and iLike. The experiment seemed to be derailed after those companies were acquired by competitors; Apple and MySpace respectively.

A Google-backed challenge to Apple’s dominance of legal online music sales would be warmly welcomed by the top labels. They have tried for years to convince heavy hitters such as Google, Facebook, and AOL to take on iTunes. The other top digital music stores, Amazon and MySpace Music, have yet to cut into Apple’s huge market share. Those two big names, however, don’t possess Google’s reach with Web consumers.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt can already boast some success in music with YouTube. Before three of the four top labels launched Vevo and took control of their videos, YouTube was by far the Web’s most successful streaming music service.

Remember those good old days when all we had to worry about was competing with the store down the road?

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