Online Audio is valuable, it’s a premium product: Triton Digital’s Richard Palmer | radioinfo

Online Audio is valuable, it’s a premium product: Triton Digital’s Richard Palmer

Friday 19 January, 2018

“Audio is valuable…a premium product that should not be sold like a display ad on a website.” 

In a one on one interview this week, Richard Palmer explained to radioinfo’s Steve Ahern, how Triton Digital, the global technology and services leader to the digital audio and podcast industry, is helping broadcasters monetise their audio streaming inventory.

Palmer recently joined Triton Digital as Director of Market Development for the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. He was previously with Macquarie Media, where he was Head of Digital. As a broadcaster, and now a supplier of technology and services, Palmer is well positioned to understand and deliver against the needs of broadcasters.
Macquarie Media was one of the first broadcasters in Australia to use Triton Digital to monetise their podcasting services, so Palmer knows the technology from both sides of the fence.
Richard Palmer explains how streaming works, how to track it and make money from it. The core focus of Triton Digital’s business is “to provide innovative technology and insightful data that enables broadcasters, podcasters, and online music services to build their audience, maximize their revenue, and streamline their day-to-day operations.”
Streaming has evolved in the past few years. Can you explain exactly how all the steps work now?
Today, most radio stations leverage encoders to send a single feed to a distribution network, which is where the listeners connect.

Back in the 1990s, computer servers were used to deliver streams to listeners. If there were more listeners than the computer could handle, it would buffer, or in some cases, not allow a listener to connect until a stream became available.  Nowadays, there are many more listeners at any one given time, so a more reliable and diversified streaming solution is needed. To manage listenership now, stations rely on streaming technology that can provide 100% up-time and isn’t a technical or logistical hassle to manage. This is why many stations use an encoder to send their program feed to the server.
What kind of encoder is needed?
There are many encoders that can be used.  We are partnered with The Telos Alliance’s Z/IPStream R/2, which is incredibly reliable, flexible, and robust – three important qualities to look for in encoding technology.   



Does the station need to send out multiple bit rates to cope with listeners who want low cost low bit rate streams and other who want better quality at higher bit rates, but higher data costs?
In our case, a station only needs to send us one stream and we do the rest, by providing various bit rates for different feeds, so streams are optimized for anywhere that you’d like to deliver them – on a website, a mobile app, etc.  The only thing we need to know is the format that the client requires.  Many clients have moved to HLS streaming (Http Live Streaming) with multi bit-rates, but every client’s needs are different.
In the case of mobile listening, for instance, iPhones require certain fixed settings and hardware that Andriod phones don’t, so there tends to be more flexibility in delivering to Android apps than iPhone apps. These are the kinds of things that a station needs to know, so they can make sure that they have all of the technology in place to deliver their streams accordingly.
Now that we understand the transmission chain, lets talk about Ad Insertion.
A popular topic!  Audio publishers across the globe are talking about monetizing all forms of online audio – live, on-demand, and podcasts.
Let’s look at podcasting first.  The Triton Digital Advertising Platform (Tap) enables publishers to dynamically stitch pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll audio ads directly into podcast episodes or audio files, targeting multiple podcasts at once, or multiple campaigns within one podcast.  Ads can be targeted based on a number of parameters, creating a relevant and engaging experience for listeners.  Monetization markers are used to dictate where within the podcast the ads should be placed.
A huge benefit of dynamic ad insertion is that it keeps the ads from going stale, so even if an episode is being downloaded one year after its original publish date, dynamic ad insertion allows the publisher to stitch a current ad to the content at the time of the download, so the listener will not be served an old ad from the year it was published.  This enables publishers to continuously monetize back-catalogue content.

What about live reads, they are proving very effective in podcasting?
Yes, but it’s not about the format of the ad, it’s about the relevance. If you record a live read into your pre-recorded podcast, it will always be there, long after the advertiser has stopped paying for the ad, or after the special event or promotion has finished.  One option to remedy this would be to record live reads, but trigger them from an ad server, rather than bake them directly into the podcast episode.  This will provide listeners with the same feel of a live read, but will enable the ad to be updated and to remain relevant over time.
Can you use any audio editor to put those monetisation marks in?
Not necessarily - there is a bit of set-up required to ensure that monetization marks work properly.  We offer this functionality through our partnership and integration with Omny Studio, which makes the process of inserting markers into podcasts both fast and easy.
Now let’s talk about streaming.
Streaming is incredibly powerful.  A mobile-first medium, it fully immerses listeners and provides advertisers with a one-to-one, non-skippable environment to communicate directly to their target audience through. 
Can you target the ads by geographical area, so that if I am listening to 2Day FM on a stream and I am in Sydney, I will hear the normal Sydney ads that are broadcast, but if I am in America for example I would hear different ads.
Yes. Serving ads to individuals listening to your streams outside of your local broadcast area gives you the chance to provide a better listening experience, and enables broadcasters to monetise that audience.
What is an SDK?
Triton Digital’s Software Development Kits (SDKs) enable publishers to develop custom streaming players and mobile applications that connect to the Triton platform, ensuring that they receive all of the benefits of a media player without the potential limitations of a pre-developed solution.
So we now know how it works, but what about selling the ads when you link the system to online ad sales platforms for programmatic buying. I see programmatic ad buying as a race to the bottom, pushing prices down. What do you think?
I used to think the same as you, and certainly website banner ads have been experiencing that to some extent, but audio is a premium advertising channel. It’s no longer a race to the bottom.  Audio is a powerful compliment to other programmatic channels, it doesn’t fight for attention, there is no ad blocking, the audience is highly engaged, and advertisers can target on the listener-level – these are all qualities that are fueling the growth of the programmatic audio channel.
The talent, the effort and the production values that go into creating radio and podcasts is also very high. It is becoming an incredible new revenue opportunity for audio publishers.

Does your system interface with ad sales traffic systems so that ads can be integrated across live radio and streaming?
Our development team is continuously exploring integrations, so it is possible depending on what system you are using.
I think the industry needs to know more information than the current metrics we are getting, so that programmers can make decisions based on detailed data. What is Triton providing as far as metrics go?
We partner with Edison Research on The Infinite Dial Studies in the U.S., Australia, and Canada. We also work closely with the IAB in multiple countries.  As for measurement, our Webcast Metrics® platform is the only MRC accredited online audio audience measurement solution in the world, and it’s been measuring the audio streaming space since 2008.  Webcast Metrics provides the audio industry with monthly audience Rankers that provide listening data for the top-performing digital audio stations and networks across the globe. 



Richard Palmer graduated from AFTRS in 2002, after volunteering in community radio in his teen years. He has worked at Macquarie Media, owned a small business, and has held board positions on several organisations.


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