Traffic personnel release 2012 "Report Card" on software


The Traffic Director’s Guild of America has released its annual Traffic Software Satisfaction Study, covering 14 Traffic Software products for radio and/or television broadcasters. This year, 1,198 users of 30 separate products were participants in the annual member project. 14 of the product brands met the minimum reporting criteria for inclusion in the comparative study.

The non-union association with just over 5,000 members does not endorse or recommend products, but reaches out annually to survey actual users of the systems, on support, performance, and a combination of “likes” and features needing enhancement. Included this year in the “comparatives” for TV Software suppliers are: BroadView, OSI/Harris, Summit, VCI and WideOrbit (for TV).

In the Radio Software “comparative” report, those reported on include (alphabetically): Counterpoint, DeltaFlex, IBS (The CBS in-house system), Marketron, Natural Log, RadioTraffic, Viero (Clear Channel Media’s in-house system), VT-Visual Traffic and WideOrbit for Radio.

Stressing it is a “satisfaction” survey versus hard-core data, TDGA President Larry Keene stressed the users of traffic software may never be exposed to more than a single product or brand in their day-to-day duties during their career: “Consequently, we don’t determine whether the participants prefer System A, B or C, but rather how the one they do use regularly fits their station or group requirements. So, TDGA isn’t asking do they prefer Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry, but rather what they like about Vanilla (or their particular software
system, only.)”

Broken down, 77.3% of the respondents were the key radio or TV program log creators; 24.9% also created HD sub-channel program logs; 6 respondents produced content logs for Mobile Phone Delivery; and 9.3% were Non-Commercial Stations. However, the study covered the gamut of major Radio & TV networks, small and very large Traffic Hubs (one handling in excess of 90 different station logs on a daily basis). All size markets were included from the Top Ten TV Markets to the smallest unranked radio community stations.

This year, TDGA redesigned the survey to ask identical questions to each product user. Radio and television have an increasing separate set of needs as the mediums expand their delivery methods and formats. For example, News and Sports-oriented radio stations require far more flexibility and spot placement control than primarily music-formatted radio stations. Television, with “bookends” and fewer business categories face string challenges to avoid multiple competitors in the same spot set cutaways.

Some takeaways
While TDGA won’t release the scoring data to non-members, they did share a few highlights: This year, paid advertising has made the leap from primary (main) programming channels to now include significant revenue from web streaming, HD Radio and HDTV sub-channels, Mobile Programming and the dramatic increase that has Traffic personnel handling website advertising placement and copy control via Continuity coordinators.

Satisfaction doesn’t necessarily follow popularity or Investment levels. Radio software, this year, saw a few  “David dominating Goliath” preferences with relatively smaller systems increasing market share, along with strong growth in systems investing in writing new code and features, as opposed to “milking” revenues from older, more mature applications.

In Television, the companies making significant investments in product upgrades scored higher than those that might be considered more classic in concept. And the myth that there was little difference between Radio & Television software demands has been dashed, at least from the perspective of the “users” of the systems.

A few surprises, also popped up – With a sampling of nearly 1,200 participants, the number of stations where salespeople are entering their own orders was well below the industry “spin”; However, the added workload on Traffic personnel is resulting in sales personnel accessing their own on-screen reports at a consistently increasing pace.

EDI, the highly touted concept of electronic order submission, confirmation and paperless handling is growing – but despite some heroic efforts by traffic software suppliers to meet constant demand changes by agencies, it may literally be years before EDI becomes universally accepted in the smaller-sized DMA’s and radio markets.

Other highlights:
• Combining all responses, 71.9% would recommend their systems to other stations with no or only minor reservations. 18.2% were highly negative in recommending and the remaining 9.9% described themselves as “neutral” (having no opinion either way). Obviously these numbers changed dramatically
on a brand-by-brand comparison basis.

• Close to 70% of the surveyed group produces less than 10 program logs per day for co-located station clusters.

• 20.3% of the respondents create logs as a centralized hub, with about half of those representing hubs of 10 or less program logs and the remainder between 10 and 90+ logs at regional or national traffic hubs.

• 4.4% created Network Logs as originators of programming for Radio, TV or Cable networks.

• 5.3% described themselves as Traffic Coordinators at the “spoke” end of Hubs, where they were charged with entering “after-deadline” Orders or last minute programming changes.

There are a few thousand stations that use their own in-house traffic software systems, either having created their own or acquiring a company to service their internal traffic needs. These are primarily (although not exclusively) found in the Radio broadcasting venue. These include Clear Channel Media (Radio) using Viero or Viero Fusion; Cumulus Media uses their own system known as Stratus; and CBS Radio which not entirely on their own system, uses their own IBS system for the majority of their Stations. While these are not sold commercially to non-group stations, TDGA keeps tracking them for comparison purposes to those provided to the bulk of the radio & TV broadcasting outlets.