Monthly Archives: June 2008

Play.it – Can CBS do what NBC did with Hulu.com?

Well so much for my next post being short.

I was recently invited to attend CBS radio’s crap what are we going to do about the internet taking all our money Next Generation presentation.  As most of you probably already know, CBS radio now owns both LastFM and AOL Radio, making them the number one provider of online music, something they are very proud of.

Having gone into this presentation with a skeptical eye, I was very surprised with what I heard. CBS understands radio is going online, and is doing some innovative things to make sure they continue to be the online radio leader.

First, they are giving more seamless access to all the stations that are part of CBS. They are even going so far as to recommend stations you might like in other areas.  Some of this is still in private beta but the first step is now online.  Right now when you stream any CBS station on the bottom there is a stations tab to  see other stations or recommendations. (ok the interface needs to be more intuitive, and sexy)

The best thing about it for advertisers is that ads can be inserted locally on all stations.  So even though someone in Seattle is streaming WCBS in NY, they will still hear and see local ads.

So I know everyone (all two of you who read this)  is saying, I don’t want to listen to preprogrammed stations, what about the next evolution of Pandora or LastFM.

Well CBS has that covered as well with Play.it . Seems weird they would launch a competitor to LastFM but there is room for another player in the market.  What’s unique about Play.it is that instead of just saying you like or don’t like a song like every other player, you can also tell it how much you like or don’t like a song.  You do this by moving the CD Art around on a dart board.  Off the board will not get played, bulls eye music will be played the most.

This is a great feature, and allows you to personalize your playlist to a higher degree than the competition.  They are even going to let you rate songs you hear while streaming any of their radio stations.  (Not that anyone is going to be streaming a typical radio station, once they discover the ability to make a custom station.)

Will this work?  A lot of that depends the algorithms and databases they use in customizing the music to your taste.  I have tried LastFM a few times but always go back to Pandora because I like the mix of music they send me. (I probably just need to give LastFM more information.)

It also depends on if CBS is willing to promote Play.it.  The one thing that has plagued LastFM and Pandora is that they have very little awareness.  If CBS puts some effort behind Play.it, it could overtake the other two in a matter of months.  They already have a wide advertising network with their traditional stations, and it would cost them very little money to get the DJ’s to talk about it on air.

Is this the future of radio?  A lot of questions need to be answered , like social integration, player customization, sound quality, etc.   One little tidbit that will help, is that they have locked up with Apple to be the exclusive player on the new Iphone.(this turned out not to be true.  (thank God)  I guess you never can trust what you hear in a sales presentation!)

In my next post I will give my vision for the future of radio, and for that matter all media.  CBS is doing what I consider the first step, I will show you the next few steps.

Kevin

What has the Internet done to Us? Part II

Well, as you can see it has been a while since I last wrote.  This will get more frequent, but the post will definitely be shorter.

As I said in my last post, consumers no longer want to be pushed into products by marketers.  So how do we market with this in mind?

Well, the key in the new media age is that people now respect people and companies who are confident in who they are, and act with a consistent voice, personality, ie brand.  This brand must be cohesive and in the retail world believed in by the CEO to the sales people.  This must be the true image and brand of the company however, if it is not all is lost because people will quickly discover who you truly are.

Be careful to not confuse what I am saying here with the old world term of branding. An old world brand would be a polished representation of the company that is not unique and does not have any quirks, or personality. Instead it was a brand with no personality. Today’s brands must have personality, just like any interesting person does. Don’t the people you love to be around the most, have unique traits that make them fun? So do great companies. No one wants to be surrounded with insecure people who act as if they are acting all the time and are too polished, same goes with companies.

Take Apple and Ikea, they are both very polished brands but also have unique quirks that make them stand out from the crowd. They have done a great job of getting everyone in the company to believe in the brand and it’s quirks.

This consistency does alienate some people, but it also develops rabid fans of others. You can no longer appeal to everyone.  You cannot change the brand based on what you heard in some focus group. Apple and Ikea live and breathe their brands from the top down, and everyone in the company knows what they stand for and they reflect that in all their work. Actually by doing this, you attract employees who have the same image the company has. Every creative geek wants to work for Apple, and many younger people would love to work at Ikea.

Overall, if you do not know the brand or personality of your company, you better start looking for it. You can normally find it in the CEO (just pray he/you has/have some personality) those quirks he/you has/have could be what sets your company apart. After you find it, you better start living it and make sure the people you have working for you believe it as well. If they don’t get someone who does. Then once this brand is consistent from top to bottom you need to start marketing this brand. A group of people will then associate and relate with your brand, and become rabid fans. These key consumers will then convert legions of consumers who are indifferent or have little knowledge of your product category.

You can choose not to do this, but you will continue have just a few dedicated customers, instead a legion of dedicated followers. Please don’t forget, people want to hear the truth, be real, and do not try to be everything to all people. The last thing we need in the world is another poser, we see enough of those at bars on the weekend.