Author: Jay Nachlis

Coleman Insights Launches Ascend Brand Lift Study Service

RALEIGH, NC, SEPTEMBER 13, 2023 – Media research firm Coleman Insights announces the debut of its AscendSM Brand Lift Study service, designed to track and prove the effectiveness of radio, podcasting, and streaming audio advertising campaigns. These studies, customized for each client, can measure components including Brand Awareness, Brand Favorability, Purchase Intent, Message Association, and Trust.

Radio, podcasting, and streaming clients will have two methodological options when conducting Ascend studies, depending on the goals of a given advertising campaign. An analog methodology is based on survey research conducted with consumers meeting specific criteria; a digital methodology employs pixel-based technology that matches ad exposure to each respondent. Furthermore, Ascend studies offer the option for clients to test spots for favorability and message retention so that advertisers can assess the performance of their creative.

According to Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman, the launch of Ascend follows more than a year of custom research for clients seeking to demonstrate the brand lift advertisers achieve through effective radio, podcasting, and streaming campaigns . “We are big believers in the effectiveness of audio advertising when it is executed correctly. With Ascend, we provide deep insights to our clients that will help improve the effectiveness of audio advertising campaigns.”

More information is available about Ascend Brand Lift Studies from Coleman Insights here.

The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube

Here is the webinar version of the “New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube” presentation delivered by Coleman Insights Vice President/Consultant Jay Nachlis and Amplifi Media Founder/CEO Steve Goldstein.

In this webinar which details findings from an August 2023 research study, Jay and Steve cover the changing perceptions and behavior of podcast consumers, the increasing importance of video in the medium, and answer questions from attendees.

6:13-7:13 The definition of a podcast is changing
8:16-8:53 How people consume their favorite podcasts
9:32-10:35 Which services, apps, or destinations do you currently use for podcasts?
10:37-11:18 Which service, app, or destination do you use most often for podcasts?
11:19-11:42 Age Matters
15:15-15:50 Why do you choose YouTube for podcasts?
15:54-16:26 Are all your favorite podcasts on YouTube?
17:06-17:44 How do you search for podcasts on YouTube?
18:59-19:48 YouTube Shorts
21:19-22:07 YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts Face-Off
22:16-25:19 Key Findings
25:29-30:39 New Rules

Cirque Du Soleil: When the Innovator Needs to (Re-)Innovate

Cirque Du Soleil is in trouble.

One major impact on the challenges was out of its control. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live shows, Cirque Du Soleil ceased operations around the world, from its traveling shows to the fixed performances in Las Vegas.

Another major impact on Cirque Du Soleil’s current struggles is maintaining relevance to younger generations. As is pointed out in this New York Times piece detailing the issue, “nostalgia” comes up often in conversations about reinventing Cirque. If you understand the history of Cirque Du Soleil, there’s something ironic and staggering about that.

Cirque Du Soleil’s “Luzia” show (Photo credit: Christian Bertrand/Shutterstock)

The innovator is trying to figure out how to innovate.

Cirque Du Soleil is a literal poster child of Blue Ocean Strategy, which focuses on building advantages over the competition by competing in uncontested space. The wide-open category (“Blue Ocean”) is often preferable to the shark-infested waters of brands competing for the same market share (“Red Ocean”).

Cirque mastered Blue Ocean Strategy by redefining what a circus was. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey were old, outdated, silly, sad animals, discounted. Cirque Du Soleil was new, fresh, unique, massively skilled acrobats instead of animals, premium.

It worked for a very long time.

The pandemic inspired Cirque to hire Cultique, a “cultural analysts” firm that’s in the business of helping businesses stay ahead of the curve. Cirque Du Soleil is now chasing (re)-relevance by brand extension. You can now buy the Cirque du Soleil Tycoon Roblox video game. It’s working on a documentary, a convention, and lots of new merch. By finding new sources of revenue in new markets, Cirque hopes it can reinvent itself and not rely almost exclusively on live show revenue.

The founders of Cultique say they don’t rely much on data, because they believe once they show up in surveys, it’s too late. And when you’re in the business of capitalizing on the hot trend of the moment, there’s certainly truth to that.

What data can tell you…and should tell you…is how relevant your brand is and what images it still owns. Far too often, brands fail to deploy strategic research to keep tabs on consumers’ perceptions and stay on the same path while they fall out of favor. Utilize research and data to stay on the pulse of your consumer so your brand is in a constant state of evolution and innovation, rather than being forced to dig out of a hole that one day may be too deep to ascend from.

A Podcast is Audio or Video. The Customer Says So.

Podcasters: Listen to your customers, even (especially?) when the customer may see things differently.

At the Podcast Movement conference in Denver last week, we may have ruffled a few feathers with the presentation of our findings from a new research study, “The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube.”

One of the headlines from the study is “The Definition of a Podcast is Changing”, which indicates that 75% of 15- to 64-year-old podcast consumers in the United States believe a podcast should be defined as “audio or video”.

Another headline indicates that YouTube is the #1 podcasting app.

These findings are related in an important way, and there’s a clear reason why these findings caused a buzz in some podcasting circles.

Steve Goldstein from Amplifi Media, who collaborated with us on the study, talked about three eras of podcasting in the presentation and will cover this week in his blog. The “MeUndies Era”, when the medium was filled with baked-in ads, host-read endorsements, and the Apple podcast app went native on iPhones. The second era, the “Throwing Spaghetti Against The Wall Era”, was filled with expansion and experimentation. We are now entering the “What is a Podcast Era”, as we see the lines between audio and video blur and converge.

Dannie J. Gregoire is credited with coining the word “podcasting” back in 2004, and from the beginning, two factors were integral to the very existence of a podcast. First, a podcast was in an audio format. Second, and more specifically, a podcast was a piece of audio referenced by an enclosure tag in an RSS feed. RSS, or “Really Simple Syndication,” allows users to access updates to websites in a standardized format. An RSS feed is crucially important to podcasters because it allows them to upload episodes, artwork, and show notes in one place, and have them populate seamlessly onto whatever platform the consumer chooses to listen to them on, from Spotify to Apple Podcasts to Amazon Music. And that was generally how podcasting operated until a very large platform threw a monkey wrench into the medium: YouTube.

As a video-first platform, YouTube’s content includes shows that most would widely consider a podcast and others that wouldn’t necessarily “qualify” because the content on YouTube isn’t available as a podcast on other platforms. The RSS feed is a major point of contention for many podcasters because currently the platform doesn’t ingest feeds the way other platforms do. There are different analytics and different ways of monetizing, and one can understand how easily it can be seen as a headache.

How you view podcasting today is likely informed by your podcasting origin story. If you started listening to Ricky Gervais’s podcast on Apple Podcasts in 2007, it would be understandable if you define a podcast as audio-only. If you started “listening” to the very popular Smartless podcast with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett while “watching” an animated logo on the screen, you may feel quite a bit differently.

It’s also important to consider how the demographics of the podcasting audience has evolved. 39% of podcast consumers in our study have been using the medium for two years or less, a number that balloons to 58% among 15- to 24-year-olds. Quite simply, there are fewer purists that see podcasting as an audio-only medium and more that see it as comprising audio and video.

39% of podcast consumers have been using podcasts for two years or less

So, when we report that YouTube is the #1 podcasting destination, it’s not to say that the highest number of podcasts are being consumed on the platform. When 1,000 15- to 64-year-old podcast consumers were asked, “Which services, apps, or destinations do you currently use for podcasts?” 60% of them said YouTube, ahead of Spotify at 53%.

YouTube is the #1 podcasting app

You can dismiss how some consumers perceive what a podcast is, but that’s their perception.

You can dismiss YouTube as a podcasting platform because it doesn’t ingest RSS feeds, but consumers see it as a podcasting platform. That’s their perception.

You’ve almost certainly heard the term “Perception is Reality,” and this study, as many as any I’ve worked on, is truly a reflection of that.

We often talk about Outside Thinking, which is adopting the mindset of the consumer­. Inside Thinkers get caught up in the way they see things, which is often not in sync with their customers.

This research was designed for one thing in mind, and that was to show how podcast consumers view the medium, and how they view podcasting on YouTube. You may see the world differently than they do, but you can’t challenge how they feel.

As a wise therapist once told me, “Those are your feelings. And your feelings are valid.”

By understanding broad global perceptions of the medium, and not just relying on content analytics, it’s our hope that the podcasting industry will have a clearer path towards building strong brands to accompany much of the incredible content being generated.

The “New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube” webinar is coming up Thursday, September 7th at 2PM EDT/11AM PDT. Registration is open now.

Should I Be Podcasting on YouTube?

Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve got a product to promote. There are many places that offer the product you’re promoting, and the great thing is, it’s not like a grocery store that charges you for shelf space. You can put your product in any of these places you’d like, and it doesn’t cost you a thing. There are clear, consistent data that demonstrates which of these places that offer products like yours have the most customers.

If you offered this product, and you had the chance to put your product at the place that boasts the largest number of people interested in your product, would you put it there? Well, a podcast is the product, YouTube is the place, and thousands of podcasters are either publishing their shows there minimally or not at all.

How can this be?

We deployed a new research study, “The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube,” conducted in conjunction with Amplifi Media, in which we surveyed 1,000 15- to 64-year-old podcast consumers in the United States. We learn that even though there is no shortage of podcast apps, 73% of podcast consumers prefer one of only three: YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts. YouTube is the most used app for podcasts (used by 60% of podcast consumers, compared to 53% for Spotify and 30% for Apple).

So, why isn’t podcasting on YouTube a no-brainer?

Different podcasters have different explanations, many of which are perfectly valid. And frankly, not all podcasts should be on YouTube, due to factors that may include type and category. A common concern is the RSS feed problem. I can use a hosting platform like Blubrry or Libsyn to automatically send my podcast by RSS feed to most major podcast apps. I can see analytics via the hosting platform. It seamlessly grabs my cover art and show notes, and uploads my episode.

But not to YouTube.

Reports say YouTube is running an RSS pilot, but it only ingests the audio, doesn’t allow for analytics, and must not contain any ads. YouTube is a monster, but it operates very much in its own podcast ecosystem.

There are some podcasters that believe a podcast is “audio-only” and that if it has a video, it’s not a podcast. So, we asked that question in our study to the robust sample of consumers. “How would you define a podcast?” The answer is clear: 75% of podcast consumers think a podcast should be defined as audio or video.

And if you think YouTube users drive that number, consider that more than two-thirds of those who prefer Spotify and Apple Podcasts feel the same way.

We’ve heard from many podcasters that think YouTube consumers just don’t watch or listen to podcasts as often as on other platforms.

Well…we’ve got data that lays that theory to rest.

Do people think YouTube is hard to use? Why do they choose it instead of other platforms? What about YouTube Music, which YouTube is pushing users to for podcasts? And how big is YouTube Shorts?

We had a lot of questions about YouTube, now we have answers, and we’ll share them with you with one goal in mind. We’ll show you an unbiased view of YouTube’s role in podcasting from the consumer’s perspective, to help you better understand how (and if!) your podcast should be there and how to use it to your advantage.

I’ll present the findings from “The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube” this Thursday, August 24th at 8:30AM MT along with Steve Goldstein from Amplifi Media at Podcast Movement in Denver. Watch the Tuesdays With Coleman blog next week, when I’ll reveal more findings and a link to an upcoming webinar.

Finally, our thanks go out to Locked On Podcast Network for sponsoring the study. The locally focused sports network has more than dipped its foot in the YouTube pool and was just as curious as us as to what the findings would show.

Much more to come!

Ask Me Anything – Episode 6: The Image Pyramid

Welcome to our new Ask Me Anything webinar series!

Each month will feature a different topic, as we cover questions related to research, branding, and marketing strategy in audio entertainment – all in just 15 minutes!

In this episode, consultants Jay Nachlis and Meghan Campbell, along with moderator and Director of Client Services Kimberly Bryant, discussed The Image Pyramid. Watch the 15-minute video below:

Questions We Answered:

1:18 – Do you think that the past few years have caused any shifts in the relative value of various layers of The Image Pyramid?
4:41 – Is a radio station’s image something that takes time to build or can a station launch or rebrand, be properly prepared to win images faster?
6:59 – When is the base layer strong enough to work on other layers and how do you strengthen the Personality layer?
10:05 – What are some tips and tricks to help stations compete in local markets when you are thousands of miles away?
12:15 – How does The Image Pyramid apply to college or public radio stations?
13:52 – Does The Image Pyramid only apply to radio or can it apply to other media as well?

Thank You and (Mostly) Goodbye, All Access

April 1989. The Gavin Report, a music industry trade magazine, is holding its annual convention at the St. Francis Hotel in my hometown of San Francisco. Milli Vanilli’s “Baby, Don’t Forget My Number” is going for adds in the newest issue of the publication, which features several testimonials to make you smile, including a quote from the acting PD of Emmis’s CHR KXXX/San Francisco (X100), Gene Baxter. One year later, Gene would become better known as “Bean” on what would become the iconic Kevin & Bean show on KROQ in Los Angeles.

I was 16 years old at the time, living the dream. I started as an intern at X100 the previous summer, and by this point, I was board-opping the respective countdown shows hosted by Casey Kasem, Rick Dees, and San Francisco legend “The Duke” Dave Sholin. I worked with the promotion team at remotes around the Bay Area, answered the request lines each afternoon for Chuck Geiger, and when I wasn’t working, made mock airchecks in the production room.

When the Gavin Convention came around, X100 had a suite and you didn’t need a ticket to access it. No more than 15 minutes following my arrival in the suite on the first day of the event, Jane Child (who had a song rising up the charts called “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love”) was sitting on this teenager’s lap.

Life was pretty good.

It got better. My entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, as I noticed attendees had either a badge or what looked like a wristband you’d see a hospital patient wear. I had neither, only access to our suite. The next afternoon, a friend and I drove to hospitals around the Bay Area searching for the perfectly colored and shaped wristband using the cover story with nurses that we needed it for a high school project. Our plan worked. We got into every single Gavin party the next night.

I already knew I wanted to work in radio, but that sealed the deal.

The Gavin Report went out of business in 2002, with Radio & Records following in 2006. But All Access, which started as the early adopter of online music industry journalism in 1995, was always there throughout my career. I started programming radio stations in 1995, and All Access has been my daily companion ever since (with the same username and password for the entire 28 years!) I read Net News every day the way some people play Wordle. It’s just a fabric of the routine.

There are simply so many moments All Access has been a part of. It proclaimed my “Leap of the Week” when I jumped from market #69 (at the time), Syracuse to market #4, San Francisco. During the three years during which I left the industry and wrote a book, Joel Denver didn’t hesitate when I asked if he’d promote it in All Access. Of course, he did. It was never a question.

I sing in a radio industry band that was formed at a Radio & Records convention what seems like a lifetime ago, led by record label executive Danny Buch, who spent most of his career at Atlantic Records. The band would play off and on at conventions, sometimes at off-campus sites like Tipitina’s in New Orleans and House of Blues in Los Angeles. If you were a band member, you would inevitably get a call from Danny every few years reenacting the classic Blues Brothers scene: “Jay, we’re getting the band back together.”

The radio industry band at its last performance, at All Access Audio Summit in 2019. Also the last time I would see Tony Banks from iHeartMedia, who passed away in 2021, bottom left.

In later years, the inconsistency of the band morphed into consistent annual appearances at All Access’s Worldwide Radio Summit, later renamed the All Access Audio Summit. It was understandable but heartbreaking when the conference went virtual due to the pandemic. Not just because the band didn’t play of course, but because radio conventions are a metaphor and mirror image of what’s so special about the industry and why we love it so darn much. It is best when it is live, in person, intimate, and fun. Over the years, I reconnected with former colleagues that I’d lost touch with and made new friends and deep connections. All Access did a tremendous service by hosting these events.

All Access Audio Summit was the inspiration for our Contemporary Music SuperStudy, a large-scale music test that tracked contemporary music tastes across the United States and Canada, which Coleman Insights produced for four years. We knew we wanted something special and actionable that we could debut at the event because it was worthy of the time and investment.

Contemporary Music SuperStudy

Anytime I’ve ever sent the All Access Net News team Coleman Insights stories, I’d almost always get an email back from Joel, in all bold font, usually within about five minutes, proclaiming that it will be featured in First Alert. I’ll miss that.

I think all of us at Coleman feel some semblance of kinship with All Access because of how we’re structured. In the case of All Access, it has competed with other solid trade publications that usually have a much smaller staff roster. All Access was always committed to hiring multiple professionals covering multiple formats. We too, have a significant team of professionals devoted to providing outstanding service to the industry amongst competitors that often have a fraction of the people. We believe it’s important and Joel has always believed this.

Although today is essentially its last day, I was pleased to read that All Access won’t be going away completely and will continue providing limited services. We all know it won’t be the same, but we also collectively appreciate the gesture.

So thank you, and (mostly) goodbye, All Access.

The Value of Brand Nostalgia

In a recent article in Adweek, “For (Re) Brands, It’s Back to the Future,” author Lee Rolston makes this important point about brand marketing:

“Being distinctive is the most important quality your brand can have. You can forget about optimizing your lower-funnel metrics if most of the content you create is not being recognized or attributed to your brand.”

Anyone who has participated in a Coleman Insights Plan Developer perceptual study knows “Fit” is our measurement of brand fit. Sure, you may call your radio station the Classic Rock station, and you may in fact play Classic Rock, but if another station is getting credit for it, the station can never fully reach its potential. Our Unaided Awareness measurement addresses the recognition part of the equation. Can consumers name your brand in the category whether or not they personally use it?

Recognition and attribution are essential elements of success.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know there are signs of nostalgia everywhere in 2023. While there are several explanations, there is comfort in the familiar, and building familiarity is no easy task. Images are like icebergs. Slow to develop, slow to erode. Brands that include Burger King, Pepsi, M&Ms, and Fanta have returned to classic-looking logos that previously went through various incarnations. Rolston offers a great line when he shows his mother some of the new “old” logos. “Isn’t that what they’ve always looked like?”

Photo credit: Adweek

Be very careful and think very strategically about brand changes. If research indicates your brand has developed precious positive imagery, it should be treasured and handled with care. If you’ve abandoned such imagery, perhaps it’s worthwhile to conduct a fresh study to determine if there’s value in bringing it back.

Brands shouldn’t be nostalgic for the sake of being nostalgic. But if nostalgia is rooted in powerful brand recognition and attribution, it should not be ignored.

Authenticity, the Tony Bennett Way

Tony Bennett died last week at age 96, two weeks short of his 97th birthday. There is plenty to remember him fondly for. Over his long career, he released 61 studio albums, with more than 50 million records sold worldwide. He was a painter­ – he signed his paintings with his birth surname, “Benedetto”. In the 90s, I had a chance to meet him at one of his art exhibitions. As it turns out, I was one of the last to see him perform live. It was February 9th, 2020, at Durham Performing Arts Center. They say, in spite of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Bennett’s cognitive functioning was well-extended thanks to the power of music and the ability to still perform shows. When Covid shut down the shows, it was ultimately the beginning of the end.

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Photo credit: Adam McCullough /

Nearly a century of living the Tony Bennett way was surely a life well-lived, and he outlasted his contemporaries not just in age, but in relevance. You simply cannot understate the marketing genius of Danny Bennett, who took over as his dad’s manager in 1979. According to Danny, his father’s career followed a classic three-act structure: The early rise in the 50s and 60s, including “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”; deep explorations into jazz when his music style left the charts; and the career renaissance that included album of the year in 1995 for MTV Unplugged. That third act included appearances on The Simpsons and appearing between Nine Inch Nails and PJ Harvey at WHFS’s legendary HFStival in Washington, DC. Regarding that appearance, Danny Bennett recalls his father asking, “Do you think Frank (Sinatra) would do this?” To which he responded, “Nope. And that’s why you are.”

Bennett’s career included an unexpected fourth act, the Lady Gaga years, which lasted over a decade. Which begs the question, how did he do it? In a world where talent constantly tries and fails to reinvent themselves, why did Tony Bennett succeed for so long?

The best answer may be the one from Danny Bennett, who shuns the idea that he reinvented his father. “He never changed. That’s not reinvention. I kind of reinvented the audience, but I didn’t touch him. That’s the beauty of it.”

It’s not hugely surprising when you see which personalities resonate most in research. The real ones. The authentic ones. Don’t mistake maintaining authenticity with resisting evolution. Tony Bennett certainly evolved (he constantly took career risks, and it was his idea to get on MTV because he watched MTV), but he never abandoned what made him him.

It’s a lesson we’d all be well-served to remember.

Think Strategically Like Meghan Trainor Thinks About TikTok

Meghan Trainor is not the biggest Pop star on the planet. Her 28 million monthly listeners on Spotify aren’t in the rarified 80 million plus numbers claimed by artists such as The Weeknd and Taylor Swift, but sharing a similar ranking with Nirvana, Flo Rida, and ABBA isn’t too shabby.

From a radio standpoint, it would be easy to dismiss Trainor as a fringe artist. Three of her four top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 were released on her debut album nearly a decade ago. The other, “No”, appeared on 2016’s Thank You. “Made You Look”, from her most recent album, peaked at #11.

And yet, Meghan Trainor has nearly 18 million followers on TikTok. That’s way more than chart-toppers The Weeknd (7.6 million), Morgan Wallen (4.4 million), and Luke Combs (4.7 million), and just behind Miley Cyrus (18 million) and Taylor Swift (19.2 million).

How she did it is no accident. Meghan Trainor thinks strategically about how she uses TikTok to her advantage.

During the pandemic, when she was unable to go on tour to support her new music, Trainor performed covers and participated in dance challenges on the platform. But in late 2021, she noticed older songs of hers going viral including “Title”, a previously unreleased track from her debut album. She wisely created a video and a dance, which helped boost her exposure. But Meghan Trainor’s super-secret weapon is Chris Olsen.

Chris Olsen is a social media celebrity, made famous by his TikTok videos (he joined the platform, like so many others, in March 2020). One night in 2021, he posted that he was thinking about Meghan Trainor. Trainor reposted it, saying she loved his content. About a year ago, she invited him over and asked him to bring “some TikTok ideas”.

Trainor and Olsen hold “content days” twice a month, during which they record 10 videos at a time. They share an iCloud album with video drafts. They dissect minutiae that includes which emojis to use, captions, video length, and notifications. Her most popular video on TikTok, an a capella version of “Made You Look” with her and two friends in a marble bathtub, has over 100 million views. Seems informal and casual. Like, let’s hop in the bathtub and sing!

Chris Olsen, TikTok celebrity and Meghan Trainor’s secret weapon (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Great content should feel that way, even though there’s intense preparation and strategy going on behind the scenes that the consumer is rarely privy to. Trainor’s TikTok “rising tide” content strategy lifts all boats. It benefits her numbers on other platforms like Spotify, boosts her personal brand, and increases her awareness.

Meghan Trainor’s strategic approach to TikTok is a timely reminder that talent alone is not enough to build a strong brand. In our line of work, we hear and see countless numbers of talented individuals and audio brands. Almost all of them trust their talent and their instincts, as they should, to be successful. A select few think highly strategically about their brands, using an effective combination of art and science.

Ultimately, these are the brands that will survive and endure.