What we've been up to and where we're headed

Nov 14, 2011

It seems like only yesterday the Digital Services roadshow was in full swing. That effort, spread over the summer, was my first opportunity to get to know stations and to give you an idea of what Digital Services was going to be about.

We’ve been heads down since – making significant progress, but not talking with you or providing updates with nearly enough regularity. With this new blog, a new Digital Services web site, regular emails, social media blasts and news feeds, we intend to change that. Using our own Core Publisher platform, we’ll be posting on a regular basis to this blog about our new products and initiatives, what we’re hearing from stations, what we’re learning and where we’re headed. And, as always, we’re hoping this is more of a conversation than a presentation. We look forward to that dialog.

As we said during the roadshow, the mission of Digital Services is to provide editorial leadership, products and services, business intelligence and revenue support. And I’m happy to report we’re making progress on all four fronts – piloting our news training program; refining Core Publisher and rolling it out to stations; starting our analytics service and finalizing an agreement to bring stations Ando Media’s streaming underwriting platform.

We’re in the middle of a News Training pilot program, testing a comprehensive curriculum and new ways to deliver training to many stations at the same time.  We’ve worked with 10 stations over a 12-week period to deliver training that includes market and station assessments, instruction on cultural and organizational change, web writing, social media and digital storytelling.  Kim Perry (NPR’s news training guru) has teamed up with Ki-Min Sung and Eric Athas (also editor of this blog) to develop the program that we expect to roll out to stations in early 2012.

Core Publisher is rapidly growing out of its pilot phase. The platform now has greater design flexibility, more practitioner tools, and is able to support a wider range of station requirements.  We intend to offer support to joint licensees by December and music stations in the spring.  We’ll also be transitioning Project Argo to the platform this spring, providing ongoing support and development for that editorial vision. Most significant has been the development of the Core Publisher user group. Lead by Erin Martin, the user group provides a forum for editorial collaboration among stations and an important source of feedback as we continue to develop the platform.

We promised that our Analytics Service would do more than simply aggregate and compile web metrics data and that’s precisely what we’re doing.  Steve Mulder and Michelle Belletiere have designed a preliminary web metrics dashboard that asks key questions about station audience. They’ve also conducted a couple of tests – one around social media as an audience driver and the other on online pledge presentations – a proof of concept for the kind of testing we’ll do to help guide station’s strategic decisions. We will be implementing a system-wide analytics service beginning in 2012, designed to bring best practices and shared intelligence to all stations.

We are nearing completion in our negotiations with Ando Media to bring streaming analytics and digital underwriting management for streaming audio to member stations. This is the first of several cost-saving master service agreements we expect to negotiate on behalf of stations. The Ando service will allow you to measure the audience that streams your signal (using traditional radio metrics) and is included in the cost of the Digital Services package. In addition, we will be piloting with a dozen stations a separate Ando service that allows stations to take advantage of the growing demand for digital underwriting on their streams. The goal is to offer that service more broadly in 2012.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates on our progress with products and services; on what we’re learning from you and what we’re finding out about our audience.   Thanks.