Author: Jay Nachlis

The Unlikely Rebranding of Stanley

Last week, my 18-year-old son brought home a tall dark green thermos from a thrift store. It looked like a thermos that might have been used by one of those workers you see in pictures that sat without a harness while constructing the Empire State Building. The name “Clarence” was etched in black Sharpie around the rim, and although you can buy a new version of this very vessel on Amazon, this one was clearly from “back in the day”.  He paid 15 bucks for someone’s old lunch thermos.

Just a few weeks ago, I was served a post by The Krazy Coupon Lady on Facebook showing a picture of a line wrapped around a Target store, full of women waiting in line for a limited-edition cup made by the same company that created the thermos my son bought at the thrift store. It was pink, available exclusively at Starbucks, and was being sold for $49.95.

Customers waiting in line to purchase a limited edition pink Stanley Starbucks cup at Target (Photo credit: The Krazy Coupon Lady)

Both products were made by Stanley, a company founded 111 years ago.

As recently as four years ago, sales of Stanley’s signature thermos, the same version of the super durable product my grandfather brought to the office and I brought to summer camp, had declined to the point of extinction. The company pulled the product from shelves in 2019.

The Stanley Classic Wide Mouth Bottle (Photo Credit: Michaelvbg/Shutterstock)

It’s not like Stanley didn’t have positive images. At its core, the company was always known for making a great, lasting product. But it was old, traditional, and lacked relevance among younger consumers. And when a brand (or an industry) is facing that kind of challenge, it can choose two paths.

  • Complain that the world is changing around it, that competitive pressures are too great, and be satisfied with whatever crumbs are left;
  • Change the perception, while maintaining the integrity of what makes the brand great.

The line at Target is one of many indicators that Stanley obviously chose the latter path.

Stanley recognized through consumer feedback that while women loved the durability of the Stanley thermos, the style wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. The company reached beyond its original target demographic. What if they offered the cups in pink? What if they were for activities other than camping?

What if they paid attention to users on TikTok who loved the brand and used it to their advantage? What if they created limited edition “events” to fire up demand? What if they found influencers to spread the word for them?

The Stanley company, founded by William Stanley, Jr. in 1913 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, went from $70 million in sales in 2019 to $750 million in sales in 2023.

How your brand approaches its audience today is not necessarily how it will (or perhaps should) approach it tomorrow. With the proper strategic tools and mindset and putting the customer first, the future of your brand is not yet written.

Give It Time to Grow! (A Plea for Patience When Evaluating Content)

Boy oh boy, do we live in a “satisfy me now” society.

If those online ad metrics don’t look good at the end of the week, pull it!

If those streaming numbers don’t look good the morning after the episode, get rid of it!

If the ratings don’t look good for the new format, see you later!

The abundance of real-time analytics is great.

Right?

Consider the streaming TV industry, which is producing so much content it’s quite literally impossible to keep up. So much of the content is legitimately great but more than any one person could possibly watch.

Every time I hear about a TV show I think I might be interested in, I keep a log of it in the notes section of my phone. This could be anything from an article or recommendation on social media to a friend sharing details of the show with me over lunch. The list is long, usually hovering in the 10-15 show range because my wife and I prefer to watch one show at a time. Once something gets recommended and we commit to it, it may be multiple seasons we need to catch up on, which can take us months.

This backlog means I rarely get to a show in the beginning of its run, meaning my viewing doesn’t matter when the networks want it to matter.

A perfect example is the show Reboot, a comedy about the dysfunctional cast of a fictional 2000s sitcom that gets back together to reboot the show. Reboot premiered on Hulu on September 20, 2022. I remember seeing a friend post about it on Facebook that Fall, so I added it to the list. But my wife and I didn’t get to it until earlier this Fall, a year after it first debuted.

The eight episodes of Reboot are some of the best television I’ve ever watched, certainly one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, with more laugh-out-loud moments than I can count. When I’m snorting while laughing, you know I think something is funny, and Reboot is a “10” on the snort meter.

Reboot — Hulu reboots an early 2000’s family sitcom, forcing its dysfunctional cast back together. Now they must deal with their unresolved issues in today’s fast-changing world. Reed (Keegan-Michael Key), Clay (Johnny Knoxville), Bree (Judy Greer), Gordon (Paul Reiser), Hannah (Rachel Bloom), Zach (Calum Worthy) and Elaine (Krista Marie Yu), shown. (Courtesy of Hulu)

After finishing the eighth episode, I gleefully perused the internet, seeking the premiere date for the second season. I figured this would be soon since I knew the show was about a year old. What I never, ever expected to see was this:

‘Reboot’ Officially Dead Following Search For New Home

I found this stunning. How could Hulu have cancelled such a quality show?

The obvious answer is it must not have been as successful as Hulu needed it to be, but it sure wasn’t given much time. It aired in September and October 2022 and was cancelled, shopped around, and declared dead by February 2023.

Have you ever heard of Reboot? I’ll bet you haven’t. And how can you be expected to?? I have Hulu and wouldn’t have heard of it unless someone mentioned it on the social media feed that Facebook decided I should see. If someone with the channel doesn’t know it’s there, how is someone who doesn’t currently have Hulu supposed to find it?

The same exact thing happened to me with Rabbit Hole starring Keifer Sutherland on Paramount+, an action series I enjoyed (I’m a big 24 fan from the day). Rabbit Hole aired from March to May 2023, I discovered and started watching in October, and the show was cancelled that month.

The new and final season of The Crown, one of the most successful streaming series success stories ever, is apparently a massive failure on Netflix, at least according to Nexttv. It debuted to a “dismal” 36.9 million viewing hours. When are we going to learn we can’t judge a show’s success after the first week when we live in a non-linear world?

We’re living in the golden age of craft beer and TV shows, with more choices than we could have ever imagined.

Too much choice.

Shows were rarely given enough time to develop before streaming, they certainly aren’t now, and it’s not a good thing.

Seinfeld, which ran for nine seasons and is generally considered the greatest sitcom of all time, was nearly cancelled before it got off the ground. An NBC research memo rated the show’s pilot “weak” with “no segment of the audience eager to watch the show again.” Any loyal Seinfeld viewer will tell you it took time for the show to click and the characters to develop, and thank goodness for TV history’s sake, Seinfeld was saved.

When we conduct personality research, we always recommend waiting at least a year before measuring the appeal of an individual talent or show, and it’s for two reasons. One, not enough people have been exposed to the show; Two, the audience that has been exposed needs time to develop meaningful opinions.

Today’s fractured entertainment landscape and easy access to quick analytics simply inflates the problem. When we make rash decisions on potentially great content before the audience has a chance to get to connect with it, or doesn’t have the chance to even find it, how in the world can we be expected to grow lasting shows and talent?

How Spotify’s “Wrapped” Spoke to Me

December means lots of things. End of the year, colder weather, the holiday season, and another edition of the “Wrapped” playlist that Spotify curates for its premium subscribers.

Spotify aggregates the listening data it has on you to present your very own year-end listening recap with a delightful, animated accompaniment. In previous years, even though data is data, for whatever reason I’ve felt Spotify missed the mark on how I used the platform.

Spotify Wrapped

But this year, they nailed it.

Spotify confirmed my wildly diverse tastes by indicating I’ve listened for 24,350 minutes to 1,081 artists in 51 genres in 2023, with Rock, Pop, and Hip Hop at the top. My recent obsession with Noah Kahan and Brandi Carlisle apparently puts my listening tastes in sync with those residing in Burlington, Vermont. “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus was my most played song. What can I say? I can love me better than you can.

My most played artist was Crowded House with a peak listening month of May, which makes total sense since that’s when I saw them play live in my town.

My favorite part of the Wrapped video is a new feature, introduced with “Hold up, someone’s on the other line”. It was Crowded House lead singer Neil Finn thanking me for being a fan and announcing a new album is coming out next year.

Wow.

Neil Finn Crowded House

Crowded House’s Neil Finn sent me a video message on my personalized Spotify “Wrapped”. Photo credit: Ben Houdijk/Shutterstock

The Wrapped section of my Spotify dashboard has an already curated and personalized Top Songs of 2023 playlist, other artist video messages, which of those artists are coming next year, and some available merch to buy for the holidays. It isn’t 100% perfect…my colleague David tells me his Wrapped alerted him to an upcoming concert by one of his top five artists…who died in early September. Oops.

“Wrapped” is intensely personal, intentionally viral, and a powerful motivator of brand loyalty.

It’s easy to dismiss how applying the lessons of Wrapped could work for your brand. Of course, you don’t have Spotify money. You don’t have the resources to create gorgeous content at a Wrapped level of graphics.

But, you may have access to a robust database of consumers. Hopefully, you’ve collected some information on these consumers. At a basic level, you may have some demographic information, but hopefully you’ve conducted some surveys to learn more about them. If you work at a radio station, do you have information about who your listeners’ favorite artists are or what shows they like or what contests they’ve played? Do you know what they do for a living and when they listen most often?

Knowing you probably don’t have the access or algorithms that Big Data provides like Spotify does, 1) what information can you glean from your database and 2) what can you do with it?

One thing most radio stations do have is talent access, including the artists played on the station and the talent on-air. What personalized content can you generate for your audience to help build brand loyalty and encourage sharing via social channels? Local radio stations also have the power of community, focusing on elements germane to that specific audience.

What are some other ways you can make the listening experience more experiential and less transactional?

As you consider planning for 2024, think about ways your radio station or other media brand can deepen bonds with your audience, often in ways that are low or no cost, with data you already have or are easy to obtain just by asking.

How Research and Strategy Beat an 89% Approval Rating

I recently listened to an episode of Rob Lowe’s podcast, Literally! With Rob Lowe, which featured an interview with George Stephanopoulos. While the episode lasts over an hour, there is one thing Stephanopoulos mentions 17 minutes and 35 seconds in that struck me.

Actually, it’s three things.

Rob Lowe Literally podcast George Stephanopoulos

First, it’s important to be aware of Stephanopoulos’s previous life prior to his current Good Morning America and This Week anchor duties for ABC. He came from politics, working as a congressman’s aide, and then on the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign. Most notably, he worked alongside David Wilhelm and James Carville on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and later served as an advisor for Clinton in the White House.

In the podcast, Lowe and Stephanopoulos are discussing The War Room, a 1993 documentary that followed the first Clinton campaign. It’s easy now to forget how strong a candidate George H.W. Bush really was. His 60.8% average approval rating is the third highest among the past thirteen U.S. presidents, behind only John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower. Just after the end of the first Gulf War, in February 1991, Bush’s approval rating was 89%. How could he have lost the election just a year and a half later? A year and a half is an eternity in politics, and Clinton had some ninja strategists that would expose Bush’s flaws. James Carville was absolutely one of those strategists. As Stephanopoulos explains in the podcast, Carville was made to run a presidential campaign at that moment in time.

Next, Lowe asks a great question. “What was his special sauce for that moment in time, and why isn’t it the special sauce for today?”

Stephanopoulos says Carville had a three-part strategy/haiku that worked so effectively.

  1. “It’s the economy, stupid.”
  2. Don’t forget health care
  3. Change vs. more of the same

As Stephanopoulos explains, everything every single person associated with the campaign said every single day had to fit into one of the above, if not, all three frames. It was the magic of distilling an entire campaign into three simple things. He admits Clinton was unusually skilled at pulling it off and not every candidate would have been, but it is the law of focus that Carville mastered perfectly.

“Good Morning America” and “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos (Photo credit: Mark Reinstein/Shutterstock)

And yet, how many brands try to sell too many things? How many messages do your advertisers attempt to squeeze into a spot? How many points are you trying to push into a promo? Whether or not your brand is good at many things really doesn’t matter.

The point is your audience will only remember one or two.

Research is highly effective when it is utilized to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities and is followed up with a highly focused strategy to take advantage of what has been learned.

If a presidential candidate with an 89% approval rating can lose an election less than two years later, never believe you can’t win the battle with the right research, strategy, and execution.

That also means you should never believe you can’t lose the battle when it’s used against you.

The Radio Streaming Quarter-Hour Test

When I programmed radio stations, I would occasionally run a “quarter-hour test” of my stations and the competition. This practice allowed me to step outside my usual listening patterns, which were highly unusual compared to that of a typical listener. The quarter-hour test was a way to force myself to create random snapshots of listening, in the same ways a listener may pop in and out. When I ran a quarter-hour test, I wasn’t thinking about the hourglass PPM stopset strategy, where contests were running, or where a commercial-free sweep took place. A quarter-hour test is outside-in listening…starting a quarter-hour when I thought about it, rather than scheduling when my listening would take place.

Several years ago, I ran quarter-hour airchecks for the streams of local radio stations, and it was hard to get past the clunkiness that existed, with spots, jocks, or music getting cut off. Now in 2023, as the industry watches the incremental growth of radio listening via streaming rather than with an AM/FM radio, I ran an updated quarter-hour test of four radio stations across the United States to get a glimpse of how local radio is adapting to the changing habits of its listeners.

The good news? Listening is far less clunky and more seamless than the last time I ran the test. The four stations I monitored, with only one exception, had high-quality streams with smooth transitions.

My listening experience, however, unearthed bigger obstacles for local radio. Some won’t necessarily surprise you, but I’ll challenge you to view them from a different lens and perspective.

My streaming quarter-hour test included four radio stations each in a different format and broadcasting from a different region of the country. One is a Country station in the Midwest; another is a Hip Hop station in the West; the third is a News Talk station in the Northeast; and the last one is a Classic Hits station in the South. I made sure to listen to stations on different streaming platforms. I picked random times to listen, spanning mornings, middays, and afternoons.

I started a timer for 15 minutes from the time I started the stream to the time I logged off, and then started taking notes.

MIDWEST COUNTRY TEST

At 10:07a local time, the stream went right into a song, just as if I were listening on a radio. This was followed by a live and recorded contest solicit into a second song. At 10:14a, the jock did a backsell and some content, and teased upcoming artists.

The stopset lasted seven minutes and featured 12 spots. With no imaging or station identification out of the commercial break, the stream went into a third song, during which the quarter hour of listening concluded.

Recap:

10:07-10:22          3 songs, 2 station mentions, 12 commercials.

WEST HIP HOP TEST

At 9:43a local time, my streaming experience again started with a song. This went right into a live jock bit with no station identifier. Another song played into a contest promo and station positioner at 9:52a. And then…18 commercials in a row. I listened past the 15-minute mark just to see when the stopset would end, which it finally did with yet another contest promo at 10:02a (at the 19-minute listening mark).

Recap:

9:43-10:02            2 songs, 1 station mention, 18 commercials

Teenage boy in disbelief that the 16th commercial isn’t the last one

NORTHEAST NEWS TALK TEST

This afternoon drive experience began at 3:05p and was the only one of the four tests to begin with a pre-roll video and two spots. One minute later, it rolled directly into the host in the middle of election talk. At 3:11p, the announcer threw it to a traffic report that ended with an awkward cutoff transition to spots, reminiscent of the clunky experiences from years ago. In this case, the station played two spots, a weather update with a station identifier, one more spot, a station identifier and positioner, and back to the talent with more election talk. I thought it was clever to break up the short commercial break with service elements, which kept my attention.

Recap:

3:05-3:20              11 minutes of content (including traffic/weather), 3 station mentions, 3 commercials

SOUTH CLASSIC HITS TEST

There was some friction at the beginning of this listening experience at 12:29p, as I clicked on a big “play” button that didn’t immediately play the station as I would have expected. It took me some time to find yet another play button on the screen to actually get the stream to trigger and start playing.

And in this instance, the station was in the middle of a spot break, with seven commercials in a row before playing a specialty programming sweeper and quick live break at 12:33p. The next 11 minutes were music intensive, with three songs boasting a quick sweeper or live break in front.

Recap:

12:29-12:44          3 songs, 3 station mentions, 7 commercials

As a listener, I was very pleased overall that each of the four listening experiences was generally seamless.

As a researcher, I’m going to bring up challenges that I perceive these listening experiences brought to light.

Here are three takeaways from this radio streaming quarter-hour test.

  1. Should every stream have “welcome branding”?

Sure, if I tune into a station on an AM/FM radio, I’ll get what I get at that time. But streaming enables the opportunity to make a brand statement immediately, which is particularly valuable as brand-building opportunities are at a premium.

  1. Should we ever run 18 spots in a row?

No, it wasn’t 18 minutes of commercials. Yes, I’m aware the station was likely playing the backloading game, throwing an absurd number of spots at the end of the 9am hour so the morning show could have less spots earlier in the show. But as I mentioned earlier, the quarter-hour test is designed to be outside-in listening. The listener doesn’t know or care about the backloading strategy, and as a listener 18 commercials in a row is awful. There is literally no way I would stay until the end if I was doing any sort of active listening.

  1. Are we effectively building our brands in each quarter hour?

This is the most important question. If a local radio station is to compete in the streaming space, it must do three things well. First, it must offer a streaming experience that isn’t inferior to other DSP experiences. Second, it must accurately reflect the listening experience one would expect on an AM/FM radio. Third, it must effectively find ways to grow its brand without friction caused by the streaming experience.

This last point is especially important because radio’s challenges are too often framed in simplistic “too many commercials”-type arguments.

Rather, let’s change that perspective to consider how self-imposed obstacles can impede brand awareness, the building of strong images, and the creation of bonds with our talent.

Regularly monitor the over-the-air feed and stream, utilizing the quarter-hour test to answer those as questions:

  • Did I build brand awareness (do listeners know who we are)?
  • Did I build strong images (do listeners clearly know what we’re known for)?
  • Did I build bonds with our talent (did they make an impression)?

Remember to focus on creating an outside-in listening experience and when possible, follow up with strategic research to track the effectiveness of your efforts.

Four Scary Research Stories

Last week, Meghan Campbell and I hosted the latest edition of our Coleman Insights “Ask Me Anything” webinar series and shared four scary research stories just in time for Halloween. I’ll recap them here, with some tips, tricks, and treats to ensure your outcome isn’t frightening.

Story #1: The Bad Ratings Story

When I was a program director, ratings day was my least favorite day of the month. If Arbitron (later Nielsen) was to drop the numbers at noon, my stomach would be tied up in knots at 11:45.

I consulted a station that was used to being in the top three of their target demographic. But this station was haunted by the ratings ghost, sinking the station well out of the top of their target and even last among the other stations in the market that shared their format.

We conducted a strategic Plan Developer perceptual study to determine how much of this nightmare was meter-based and how much was a real perception problem. In the end, it was a little of both. The station looked way better in the study than it did in the ratings, but we identified clear issues between how listeners perceived the station and how it was imaging itself and the music it was playing. We were able to offer some peace of mind that the radio station wasn’t completely broken. We offered strategic guidance to improve performance and the station returned to its perch at the top.

Story #2: The Focus Group of One Story

Without research to lean back on, it can be easy to rely on just one voice. This can be a super fan you run into at an event. It can be the boss’s spouse, who has lots of passionate opinions about the station. Or maybe it’s a loyal listener who regularly calls in to offer feedback.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Drovnin

It’s simple to have the last thing you heard be most present in your mind. But this singular opinion may not reflect the opinions of your listener (and potential listener) base. In the absence of formal research, widen your net and don’t allow one person to influence important strategic decisions.

Story #3: The Short-Term Thinking Story

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of the recently departed and then brought back from the dead Bed, Bath & Beyond?

The 20% off coupon you’d get in the mail every month.

If the first thing you think about when you think of a brand is a coupon before what the brand actually stands for, that brand has a problem.

Bed Bath & Beyond coupon

Tactical contesting can be valuable for sure, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of brand building. Make sure you’re not putting so much focus on contesting that listeners think of your station more for the next promotion than for the music and personalities that they should be thinking about.

Story #4: The App Story

A company we work with spent a lot of time and money on developing an app. In their minds, they shouted it to the rooftops, promoted it on air, and came into the study feeling there should be a lot of awareness and usage of the app.

But when we conducted the study, very few of their listeners were aware of it. And because of that, very few used it. This was frustrating because their digital offerings are awesome. Without research, this company may have charged ahead with a different strategy assuming listeners were aware. But with the benefit of research, they were able to focus their marketing message and target moving radio listeners onto their digital platforms.

Ask Me Anything – Episode 7: Scary Research Stories

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 Scary Research Stories. Watch the 15-minute video below:

Questions We Answered:

2:01 – Bad Ratings Story
5:09 – The Focus Group of One Story
7:38 – The Short-Term Thinking Story
11:11 – The App Story

Three Thoughts on Strategic Research from a Taxi Ride

During a ride in a New York City taxi recently, I noticed the credit card machine displayed “No Surge Pricing. Curb: The #1 Taxi App.”

Here are three things that came to mind.

#1:  I’d never heard of Curb.

So first things first, I looked up where Curb is available and it’s in seven cities: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale. It’s new-ish, but not new, having launched in 2016.

I visit these cities for business and leisure, so this means one of two things. Either the brand a) didn’t make an impact on me or b) I haven’t taken a taxi in a really long time. Truth be told, it’s probably a little of both.

Curb taxi app

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Janet Julie Vanatko

#2: “No Surge Pricing” is an interesting choice for a positioning statement.

My Lyft trip from Newark to Manhattan was $66. The ride back would have been $95. A taxi was $122. Yes, Uber and Lyft have surge pricing, but in my experience, it’s nearly always less expensive than a cab.

When you search for terms like, “Common complaints from Uber riders” and “Common Lyft complaints”, you get a long list of items including:

  • Failure to pick up customers
  • Drivers being late
  • Incorrectly charged
  • Distracted driver
  • Messy car
  • Getting lost
  • No surge pricing

My 20-year-old kid won’t take an Uber or Lyft because they are fearful that the drivers aren’t screened properly, and they’re worried about their safety. I was surprised to see this one not pop up more often in my search.

But, this is an important lesson in the value of research. It’s certainly possible that Curb’s research indicated frustration over surge pricing in the cities they serve is a big problem. To their credit, that message is on the machine in the cab, on the app, and on the website. Pick a message and be consistent. But do research to make sure it’s the right message.

#3: Taxis need an industry marketing campaign.

Many have said the same thing about the radio and podcasting industries. If you want consumers to think about using your product, you better remind them why they should.

It’s been my perception for many years now that Uber and Lyft are faster, cheaper, and easier than a taxi. Period. And while I don’t live in a city with Curb, I do visit them and take Uber and Lyft often.

Changing my perception isn’t going to be easy, because the taxi industry allowed the rideshare industry to run roughshod over it with better tech and more drivers.

A deep research study to understand consumer perceptions of taxis, Uber, and Lyft would be valuable. But beyond that, I wonder if images have passed beyond subtle “no surge pricing” being effective enough.

I’m seeing a commercial with…oh let’s see…a messy car showing up late with a driver that keeps texting while driving and getting lost and ends with the customer getting a push notification from the credit card company that they’ve been overcharged.

That is, of course, if those negative images showed up as significant vulnerabilities in research.

Understanding your brand’s awareness levels and images (along with that of the competition) is at the core of what makes strategic perceptual research so effective.

Once you know the results, the execution of the strategic plan is where the real fun begins.

Podcast Research on YouTube: But Wait! There’s More!

Anytime we conduct a research study, our favorite notification email is the one that reads, “The sums for your project have been delivered and can now be found in your brief.”

Like a kid opening presents on Christmas, that email is an invitation from Santa to go to a folder on our server, open a spreadsheet, and dive into mounds and mounds of data.

Research isn’t for everyone, but if that gives you a thrill, the business may be for you.

When analyzing the data for the recent research study we conducted with Amplifi Media, “The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube,” as we do with all studies, we’re looking for a story. What does the data tell us? What does it mean? And how can we turn it into action to produce strategic results?

In this study, the big story is that the definition of “podcast” and how people consume podcasts is shifting, big time. Consumers now define podcasts as audio or video, not just audio. They like YouTube for podcasts. I mean, really like YouTube. What we learned from those who use YouTube to consume podcasts uncovered actionable findings that can help podcasters formulate their video strategies.

But wait, there’s more!

That spreadsheet with multiple crosstabs, or “data tables” as we refer to it, lists every question asked in the study and the corresponding answer overall. But we’re also analyzing answers by things like age, gender, ethnicity, and geography. We want to see how questions are answered by users of specific podcast platforms or fans of specific categories. How different are the answers by how often they consume podcasts? This is an example of just some of the digging we do.

If we showed every piece of data, the presentation would go on for days. And different pieces of data may be more interesting to different people.

If you work in radio, we’ve got data that shows how listeners of local radio stations feel about podcasting and the role of video. We’ve got data on users of many streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Paramount +, and Max.

If you work in marketing or advertising, you may find it interesting how podcast consumers say they’re discovering new podcasts.

We’ve got “momentum” data – which platforms are moving up and down in usage vs. last year. We know which podcasts consumers say are their favorites and can look at that data across other measures.

If you’re interested in purchasing additional data from “The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube,” click here and fill out the form. Multiple levels of access are available at different price points, and we’d love to discuss how the data may help you.

The Undeniable Marketing Lessons from Taylor Swift’s Focus on Fans

I was thinking about Taylor Swift over the weekend. Not so much about how I felt regarding her apparent budding romance with Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce after she was spotted watching the Chiefs game in a suite with Kelce’s mother on Sunday, though I’ll admit to being curious about what song she’ll end up writing about him someday.

Rather, as Swifties around the globe processed this dating news, I reflected on the immense connection she has with her fan base.

Taylor Swift fans buying merchandise

Photo credit: ezellhphotography/Shutterstock

About 15 years ago when I was programming a radio station in Raleigh, a colleague who worked at our Country sister station WQDR told me an anecdote about a relatively new artist named Taylor Swift.

After her concert at the local amphitheater, Swift held a meet and greet that included listeners and radio station staff, which in and of itself is not an unusual occurrence. What’s unusual, as I was told, was what came next.

“After the meet and greet, Taylor went to the back of her tour bus and wrote handwritten notes to every single person that was at that meet and greet, making specific mentions of something only that person would know. It may have been something they wore or something they talked about.” The notes would be mailed out to each attendee soon after the show.

I couldn’t have projected back then that Taylor Swift would become the megastar she is today, but it was the moment I realized Taylor might be the greatest marketer of any musical artist ever.

In 2020, I wrote about the marketing prowess of her perfectly timed Folklore album. The reality is, Taylor Swift just keeps doing it again and again, from the easter eggs she puts in album announcements to showing up at a fan’s engagement party.

The Eras Tour, which will almost certainly finish as the largest-grossing concert tour of all time, is a master class in marketing. Most artists would just change up their setlists and not tell anyone about it. Taylor Swift announces she’ll perform two surprise acoustic songs each night. Naturally, a Swiftie built a “Surprise Song Tracker.” There was the morning on which a fan posted via social media that her brother died five years to the day and asked if Taylor could play “Daylight” as the surprise song. Done. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

How many artists (and their teams) would care enough to notice that post?

We can’t borrow Taylor’s talent, but we certainly can heed her marketing lessons. When you do something important, don’t expect the audience to figure it out for themselves. Tell them. Tell them why it’s important. Make it an event and make it special.

And always…always…put your fans first. Taylor Swift is undeniably a talented Pop star. But it is her obsession with fan satisfaction, from handwritten notes to social media requests to engagement party pop-ins, that sent her from great to stratospheric.