Thursday, October 7, 2010

An impressive portfolio of media apps from Jacobs Media; consultants offer clients insights as well as development

Paul Jacobs, general manager of radio consulting company Jacobs Media, reminded me that it has been just over two years -- 27 months, to be exact -- since the Apple introduced third party apps to its iPhone platform, and already we can talk about "old" apps (with a bit of a chuckle, recognizing the irony).
I had called Jacobs Media because I finally got around to investigating the apps that were showing up in the iTunes App Store under their name. And there are quite a number of them! A search of iTunes pulls up 239 apps -- and a number of other apps are there under the names of the broadcasters and other developers the company works with.

Jacobs Media brands itself as "the largest radio consulting firm in the United States specializing in Rock formats", and Paul Jacobs quickly reminded me that they were the ones who created the 'classic rock' format back in the eighties.

← The app for C-Span was released late in 2009
and is of a more standard design.

I do not mind admitting that my knowledge of the modern radio industry is limited compared to print and electronic publishing. But the large number of apps in iTunes, combined with the variety of offerings amazed me. Sure, Jacobs Media offers its broadcast clients an off-the-shelf app solution -- for Apple's iOS, and also Android and Blackberry -- but looking through the numerous apps released it is clear that there is also a fair amount of customization going on.

The Jacobs clan -- Fred Jacobs is president, Bill Jacobs is listed as consultant -- all attended Michigan State University at one time or another, though Fred Jacobs got his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan (I wonder if that causes troubles). The consulting firm, located in Southfield, Michigan, has been around since 1983, but their app division (jacAPPS) is obviously new.

The app for the Spartan Sports Network must have been
a labor of love for the MSU grads at Jacobs Media.

Speaking to Paul Jacobs yesterday, we discussed mobile apps for his radio clients and it was obvious that as a consulting company, rather than purely a developer, they approach things a bit differently. Consultants want to know what the goal is, how things will be monetized, what content is important. As a result, some of the radio apps for music stations tend to me players first, content distributors last; others, such as for news radio stations, have lots of content that can be included in the application.

Many of the apps I've seen for local radio stations have come from developers who also do mobile apps for print publishers. As a result, these apps tend to be RSS readers just like their newspaper cousins. Additionally, a motivating factor behind the apps is that the developers are trying to create a mobile ad network comprised of their publishing clients.
A selection radio apps from Jacobs Media
Car Talk: Programming
98.9 The Rock! (KC): Rock
WOWO: News
AM950 KTNF: Talk Radio
WEEI: Sports
Spartan Sports Network: MSU

Paul Jacobs told me that they they looked at this issue -- creating an ad network -- and decided to pass, concentrating instead on serving the needs of their clients rather than pushing a product (more my words than his, I admit).

The result: a whole portfolio of interesting apps for a variety of different clients representing different formats. I would highly recommend doing a search in iTunes for "Jacobs Media" and browsing the large number of apps.

Going though the website for Jacobs Media today I read their page titled W.T.D.A -- 'What's the Digital Application' -- and loved some of the content there.

Although written for radio general managers and program directors, it also contains some sage advice that could easily apply to their print counterparts.

For instance:
Sales managers and their staffs need to learn an entirely new way of selling. This includes understanding a new language, new delivery systems, new metrics, new creative approaches, and an entirely new group of clients to call on. No longer can a rep’s day be spent exclusively with media buyers. There’s a new generation of creators and decision-makers at agencies and at the client level who understand the potential and the value of digital media.
Digital needs to be represented in every meeting.
Amen to that.