Consumers increasingly use mobile devices to access digital content while driving, according to market research firm The NPD Group. Sales of products that integrate portable devices (e.g., smart phones, tablets and MP3 players) and vehicles accounted for more than $170 million in 2011, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service.
Still, “Traditional radio and CD audio remain firmly entrenched in the vehicle from both a device and entertainment standpoint,” said Ben Arnold, NPD’s director of industry analysis. “But as ownership of mobile devices, digital content, and apps expands, consumers will be looking for ways to customize the in-vehicle environment with content and services."
Certainly, this is a challenge for radio stations which are losing their hegemony on drive-time listeners. Radio and TV thinktank RBR-TVBR observes that “Content is content and if your radio station is compelling enough, they’ll be listening to it nationwide," though increasingly via mobile devices, bypassing the in-dash radio. Pandora and iHeartRadio cannot own drive time listenership simply by being mobile, as popular stations stream over mobile media as well.
NPD’s just-released study “Mobile CE: A Look Inside the Vehicle” reveals that 84% of vehicle owners have a portable media device and more than three quarters (79%) are using them in the car. These devices are also used regularly with half of smart phone owners, and nearly two-in-five (37%) iPod owners said they use their devices “always” or “most of the time” while driving.
In-vehicle connectivity is also starting to emerge as a purchase factor with a third (32%) of consumers saying the feature is highly important in their decision to buy future car audio products. Consumers are also connecting their digital media devices through a variety of ways. While 18% of vehicle owners have an auxiliary input installed into their vehicle stereo system, 11% are connecting through a USB port. Despite being present in just 13% of vehicles, wireless connectivity is gaining favor as a way to more easily control these devices and tap into connected services. More than half (56%) of vehicle owners with a built-in Bluetooth or wireless phone connection installed said they always use it or use it most of the time.
This is hardly the death of radio or the CD players, which are still in high demand. Fully 73% of vehicle owners with an FM radio said they use it during most car trips and 57% of consumers said the presence of a compact disc player will be vital in their decision to purchase their next car stereo system. Still, there are signs of erosion. Ford announced in July 2011 that it planned to cease fitting European models with in-car CD players, in favor of MP3, USB and Bluetooth audio connectivity.
American Media Inc.’s (AMI) Reality Weekly is off to a struggling start, reports Adweek.
The $1.79 consumer book hit newsstands in late December, with 350,000 copies and hopes to reach 1 million after six weeks. Six weeks has come and gone, and distribution is just 500,000 with sales around 100,000. The February 20 issue had just six ad pages, versus the 10 to 12 AMI had aimed for, and 14 for its inaugural issue
AMI’s EVP for consumer marketing acknowledged a “learning curve…we need to establish what are those dozen or so cover subjects that can carry the sale.”
None can blame AMI for not trying to get it right the first time. AMI owns Star, OK! and The National Enquirer, and conducted 40 market studies before even arriving at a cover price. At the time of its launch, AMI estimated a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) of $45. No word as to any surveys about market demand for the title.
Part of Reality Week's challenge is its niche, describes Jack Hanrahan of the newsletter CircMatters. While People has its choice of whom to put on its cover, Reality Weekly is forced to draw from a narrow pool and make news whether it exists or not. A hard niche can serve a title well: Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly enjoyed long runs with the same readership and narrow content pool for decades, but of course, have suffered miserably as the networks sunset decades-old strongholds like "The Guiding Light." Also true, Reality Weekly chose a tough time to enter the fray. Consumer magazines were down 10% in newsstand sales in 2011, with AMI's OK! plummeting 27.5%.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reports that, among newspaper and magazine publishers it has surveyed, just 12% see themselves as being all-digital in the next five years. Fully 76% believe they will still have a print publication, while the remaining 12% is unsure or has no opinion.
That 76% sounds like high numbers, but, the survey reflects a significant shift. Only 5% surveyed in 2010 foresaw a digital-only future, versus the 12% today.
None can accuse ABC of print bias; while the organization was born to measure print circulation, it has a strong investment in digital measurement as well. In January, its ABC Interactive (ABCi) arm released the first mobile audit or m.Audit report, covering a publication’s app and mobile websites. ABC Interactive took this maiden voyage with the Orange County Register, and revealed that the newspaper’s mobile website averaged more than 4.5 million monthly page impressions. Also true, ABC and ABCi joined forces to conduct its 2011 survey “Going Mobile: How Publishers are Maturing and Monetizing Their Offerings.” Among the highlights from that survey, released in November 2011:
- Eighty-five percent of newspaper and magazine publishers surveyed had mobile content for smartphones, e-readers or tablet devices, which was up from 76% in 2010
- Newspapers at 88% were most likely to have mobile initiatives in place, followed closely by consumer magazines 83% and business publications 79%
- Development and maintenance costs were the key inhibitors to establishing a mobile presence
- Eighty-one percent of U.S. publishers had a mobile strategy, and reported that mobile websites account for up to 15% of overall website impressions.
A new study of advertising in news by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reveals that even the top news websites have little success getting advertisers to move online from traditional platforms. They are in fact “Doing a crummy job of capitalizing on online advertising’s growth,” as blogger Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute describes.
Pew examined 5,381 ads on 22 homepages and landing pages at different news operations. Those operations included 11 newspapers, four magazines, three cable news outlets, three commercial network broadcasts and two online-only outlets (Yahoo News and The Huffington Post). The research took place between June 2011 and January 2012.
Most news sites did not feature ads targeted by consumer behavior. Only CNN, the New York Times and Yahoo News delivered different ads to the researchers based on online activity. Targeting is of course a key component to ad value for Google and Facebook.
While these news operations tried to get advertisers to buy across multiple platforms, few succeeded. As an example, on CNN’s cable channel, the top three categories of advertisers were motion pictures and television; insurance; and telecommunications. On CNN.com, the top three were financial ads, toiletries and cosmetics, and job searches.
In-house ads fill more web space than any other ad category, at nearly 21% by number. At Time.com, that number reached 56%, but it was less common in sectors that do not require subscription (e.g., cable news).
Ads from the finance industry were three times more common than second-place toiletries and cosmetics. This is in sharp contrast to their limited presence in print and in broadcasts. Financial ads comprised 45% on abc.com, versus 13% in the morning and evening broadcasts studied.
The news organizations rely most heavily on static banner ads, while pop-ups and animation are rare; so are video ads, a fast-growing category that eMarketer predicts will increase by 43% in 2012. Banner ads by contrast will grow just 18% and will likely level off.
Revenue from digital advertising in the United States is expected to grow by 40% and overtake all other platforms by 2016. But as the Pew researchers describe it, “How much of that growth will go to underwrite news remains in doubt and throws into question the financial future of journalism as audience continue to migrate online.” The job for news outlets is to in essence modernize to target readers, and attract (perhaps upsell) legacy advertisers.
The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) has released its semiannual FAS-FAX report on U.S. consumer magazines, covering July to December 2011.
The champion among subscriptions: AARP [American Association of Retired People], The Magazine, with 22.4 million subscribers, closely followed by AARP: The Bulletin, with 22.2 million. But, these publications are benefits of AARP membership, with its 50+ demographic. Only two other titles in the list are membership-based, being AAA Living and American Legion Magazine.
Excluding those, Better Homes and Gardens tops the list, with 22.2 million subscribers—down just a hair from 2010. BHG (a Meredith title) claims a monthly readership of 38.33 million readers, 30.28 million of whom are women.
There is likely very little crossover in demographics between BHG and #4 on the list—Game Informer, covering the interactive gaming market. Publisher Sunrise Publications offers no insight into its demographics (which presumably reflects those of gamers, being largely male and under 30).
10% downtick at newsstands
Still, single-copy sales were down 9.96% during the period, which Media Life called the “steepest slide in the last four reporting periods.” Single-copy sales across 408 consumer titles dropped from 32,118,948 in the latter half of 2011 to 28,919,153. They were down 9.15% during the first half of 2011, and down down 7.27% latter 2010.
Ad pages were down in 2011 as well, and consumers likely cut back on impulse buys, particularly of celebrity titles like OK!. Newsstand sales of OK! plummeted 27.5%. Women’s titles suffered as well, with Oprah Winfrey’s O down 32%.
Still, publishers are pushing valiantly into the digital space—a good move: According researchers GfK MRI, almost three-quarters (71%) of tablet owners say they are interested in reading magazines on their devices. Publishers are not surrendering on the newsstands, either. Yesterday marked the launch of a revamped Ladies’ Home Journal, (12th among paid subscriberships in latter 2011, absent from the top 25 in newsstand sales). In addition to a new look and logo, the new content creation model invites readers for a stipend to submit personal growth stories—ostensibly for a more engaged readership.
- Before Season 5 even airs, FX has renewed its biker drama “Sons of Anarchy” for a sixth season, reports TVByTheNumbers, and creator Kurt Sutter has been signed to a new three-year deal. “Sons of Anarchy” is expected to return in October of this year. The Season 4 premiere, which aired September 6 of 2011, was the most-watched program in FX history, with 6.5 million viewers.
- NBC has “effectively cancelled” the lawyer-in-trouble drama “The Firm,” reports Broadcasting & Cable. NBC has moved the series to the Saturdays 9 p.m. slot to “burn off” its remaining original episodes. “The Firm” was on Thursdays at 10 p.m. (a slot held for more than a decade by “E.R.”). NBC will premiere its new drama “Awake” beginning March 1, with repeats of “Grimm” running in the slot until then. “The Firm” drew a meager 0.8 rating with adults 18-49 in last Thursday’s airing.
- ABC finished #1 on Friday among adults 18-49; the network crowed in a press release that “it was the Net’s 4th straight Friday to deliver the #1 position against its network rivals.” ABC’s 20/20 took the night’s #1 position among that key young-adult demographic. Perhaps it was the subject matter: 20/20 featured an in-depth look at marriage and divorce, Hollywood style.
- More signs of struggle at the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN); “The Rosie Show” shed more staffers last week, to a total of 30 employees and contractors, and has moved taping to a smaller studio. As Crain’s Chicago Business describes, host O’Donnell is trying to “find the right formula to boost ratings,” which now average only 200,000 viewers, as opposed to its premier at 500,000. The show has done away with some fun-based elements like a game show segment, in favor of one-on-one interviews.
- Sports piracy brings harsh justice, and from on high. The LA Times reports that federal authorities, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have “blitzed” 16 websites illegally streaming sports events, and have brought criminal charges against the owner of nine of them. Police arrested Yonjo Quiroa, 28, of Comstock Park, Mich., and charged him with criminal copyright infringement. Quiroa live-streamed NFL, NBL, NHL and World Wrestling Federation events.
- Google’s talks with House lawmakers over privacy concerns “don’t seem to be going well at all,” reports AllThingsD. Two high-ranking Google officials met with members of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday, to discuss a new policy that unifies 60 Google services under a single user name. “[Google] danced around actual details, and instead spoke in generalities, highlighting their efforts to ‘enhance the user experience’,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. The proposed privacy changes would grant Google greater license to share user account information between services, outside of the users’ control.
- More grist for the Apple iOS versus Android mill: comScore reported that the Google Android platform took 47.3% share of the smart-phone platform market in December, versus Apple iOS at 29.6%. comScore believes Android’s popularity is the driving force behind Samsung’s 25.3% smart phone market share. That compared to That compared to Apple’s 12.4% share. Apple gained slightly Q3 to Q4, with a 2.2% bump while Samsung held steady.
- Honda proved cross-media value this week. As AdAge Digital reports, Honda’s Ferris Bueller-themed Super Bowl spot (one of the many leaked beforehand) collected 4.4 million views last week, on outlets led by YouTube. The company Visible Measures charted the top 10 ad views, most of them Super Bowl leaks. Second at 3.09 million views was Volkswagen’s “The Bark Side” ad, in which a bunch of dogs bark the Darth Vader theme from “Star Wars.”
- The Twitter Peek has died, reports Engadget. This toy-like Twitter-and-email-only handset, released by Peek in 2009, never caught fire. Its value proposition was $299 for a bare-bones device with lifelong mobile service. But the devices ceased to work on Monday, complained users. Peek CEO Amol Sarva, confirmed the death, and has no plans to replace the devices: Peek will stick to aftermarket software.
Sony has halted production on its Internet TV with built-in Google TV platform. Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst Dan Rayburn broke the story late yesterday on his streamingmedia.com blog. While Sony has made no such announcement, Rayburn reached out to Sony stores and Sony’s sales numbers. He did so after observing the Sony models disappearing from online sales channels like Amazon.com, where only 13 of the TVs were available and from third-party resellers—not from Sony.
Google introduced the platform in May of 2010, at its annual Google I/O developer conference, with the tagline “TV MEETS WEB. WEB MEETS TV.” As TechCrunch described, “The implications are pretty clear what Google is going for. That is, the 4 billion TV users worldwide. Or rather, advertising to the 4 billion TV users worldwide.” A commentator on the TechCrunch site grumbled “Hopefully ad agencies will start to realize that Google is just waiting to flip the switch and cut them out. But somehow I doubt it.” Google CEO Larry Page boldly predicted that before the summer of 2012, the majority of production televisions would have the Google TV platform embedded. But thusfar, and aside from Sony’s models, competitors LG, Samsung and Vizio have announced only five such models.
Sony has not abandoned the Google TV platform; it just released a Blu-ray Disc player with Google TV embedded, and at a modest $199. And the models that LG, Samsung and Vizio have announced are all 47-inch or more. Rayburn observes that competition from those makers is likely keeping Google TV down—they are competing with their own connected TV platforms, “And it’s clear they see the Google TV platform as a threat.”
At the time of Google TV’s release, Bloomberg BusinessWeek observed advertisers giving it a “warm reception.” As BusinessWeek did the math, an online video ad through the platform would cost $30 per $1,000 viewings and enjoy precise viewing analytics and have interactive capability; a TV viewer could “click to phone” or place an order then and there, without leaving the TV screen.
But, with competitive platforms from TV makers, Apple, and cable companies including Comcast, interactive TV is still feeling its way, and Google TV is showing no signs of becoming the standard the company predicted it would be.
No official numbers yet, but industry buzz is that Reality Weekly, the new American Media Inc. (AMI), is struggling. Sources have told WWD that the first issue, shipped the last week of December, sold just over 100,000 copies, despite delivering 500,000 copies to newsstands. Subsequent issues have sold less.
Reality Weekly has made both safe and risky decisions. It priced itself at a consumer-friendly $1.79, and its online ads in other AMI properties ask “Seriously, where else are you going to have this much fun for just $1.79?” But its first issue featured Kim Kardashian on the cover, in defiance of “Kardashian Krash,” an ennui towards the celebrity sisters that has killed newsstand sales. Secondly, it named Omarosa O. Manigault its West Coast editor, and declared her in a press release to be “The first star of reality TV.” Manigault’s credentials and work ethic have always been sketchy; she appeared on the first season of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” declaring herself a former Clinton White House appointee. In reality, she held a low-level job from which she was fired. Since then, she has appeared on more than 20 reality shows, including "Surreal Life,” "Fear Factor" and "Girls Behaving Badly," and invariably generating negative buzz from viewers.
Reality Weekly has a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) of $45, and Issue 1 had 14 pages of print ads. Its current issue featurs a "Biggest Loser" contestant sharing weight-loss tips and death threats toward "The Bachelor" contestant Ben Flajnik. Both "Loser" and "Bachelor" have seen declining ratings in their current seasons.
American Media owns both the Star and the National Enquirer tabloids, and another celebrity weekly magazine, OK!, which also appears to be struggling. WWD reports that OK! has averaged less than 200,000 in newsstand sales per week in January 2012, far down from its halcyon days of .5 million copies in newsstand sales.
A surprisingly weak Tuesday premiere of American Idol on Fox. Its season 11 debut averaged a 7.2 rating of adults 18-49 during its two-hour time slot, reports Media Life. That is down a full 27% from its Season 10 premiere, which averaged a 9.7.
Viewer ennui is the likely cause. Historically, even the most beloved TV offerings (ER, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, Happy Days, Gunsmoke) struggle to survive longer than 10 seasons. Also true, Idol has relied upon changes among its judges to refresh ratings, but the panel (Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez) has remained the same and perhaps lost its novelty. Finally, competitive offerings like NBC’s The Voice are glutting the market for singing competitions.
Still, Idol took the lion’s share of viewers, while most other programming declined. Chief among the losers was NBC. Whitney (8pm) dropped 20% among adults 18-49, and Are You There, Chelsea? lost 22% from its premiere the week before, for a 1.8 rating.