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Monday, July 1, 2013
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Radio Industry Needs to Grasp Online Delivery


It's not clear that we are seeing forward movement from radio, online. This conclusion can be drawn whether your interest lies in what the broadcast radio industry is doing or from watching pureplay operators.
"We no longer deliver what we want to consumers. They choose what they want to consume, from a vast array of content."

There are signs executives in both groups THINK progress is being made. But, relative to how people choose content online, it's clear to anyone who has spent time in the trenches of technology that the radio industry lacks knowledge of a) the competitive landscape (as it pertains to gathering audience; b) new audio choices launched everyday; and c) the quickly growing world of analytics (some say "Big Data").

Not much has changed in search engine optimization over the years. A few stations are now showing in the top 100 for keywords reflecting how a consumer searches (they are not searching for the name of your station). Do a quick search for "talk radio stations" on Google. Here are the top ten returns (1st page placements):
Tunein
Shoutcast
Live365
Radio.com (CBS)
RadioRow (Audio Graphics)
Radio-locator
navigator-cision
journalismjobs.com/radio
VoiceAmerica
newslink.org

Besides CBS' "Radio.com", the first time you see a broadcaster in this lineup, it's at #24 - that's 3 pages into a normal search return. iHeartRadio shows up two spots later. Three more slots and it's NPR; eight more and we get to the next Broadcaster, KFI AM 840.

Individual pureplay stations first appear at the #15 slot, with LATalkRadio. Seven more slots down and TalkZone appears; go three more and it's OC Talk Radio.

For broadcasters, over the air promotion is still its primary means of pushing people to web sites. Social media is playing a far larger roll for pureplay operators, but measuring success is something that's still not addressed in detail for either group.

New choices for listening to audio appear every day. Most are of the pureplay variety, with copycat systems then created by those in the broadcast industry. We don't need to go over iHeartRadio duplicating Pandora, down to its "commercial free." "You pick the music" broadcast formats are derivatives of the company which first made forays into social choice programming, "Nowlive" (which has since morphed into a delivery platform for events).

Most recent is Norm Pattiz's PodcastOne, which received extreme publicity from radio industry trades, though none mentioned the striking similarity between it and the long-established Stitcher. Of course, the former claims "compelling content" is what it delivers. Though, calling yourself "compelling" and being thought of as compelling by consumers are two distinctly different concepts.

Last is the lack of analytics to help programmers and advertisers. For as long as I've been involved with analytics and metrics - since its introduction in 2000 - I've not seen a single company in the radio industry (online or off) use its power. That's not to say we do not have companies claiming to help stations gather data; but using that data is still so far out of mind it doesn't exist within radio.

What does exist are the lame attempts to transfer what used to work for broadcasters to online. It was easy pickings because audiences were caged into an ADI (area of dominant influence).

Two quick examples of failed transfer of this radio promotion mindset are WhyRadio from Radio Advertising Bereau, and WeAreBroadcasters, courtesy of National Association of Broadcasters. Please, I invite you to visit both. See how leaders in the radio industry are using new media. You judge if either is valid use of your time.

If neither of the above lights your fire, try the hugely ignominious RadioRocksMyPhone! Saved for last because we've just been told by Emmis CEO, Jeff Smulyan, that "...only one out of 70 broadcasters he's spoken to does not support his industry-wide FM cell phone chip plans." Only one. That's one great batting average, if true.

Online radio has a way to go before it begins to "get" what it is trying to accomplish. Broadcasters and pureplay operators are languishing in areas where they refuse to use all the tools available, do not apply current tracking methodologies that nearly all tech companies embrace, and load web sites up with too much non-essential content (while leaving much of the essential information out).

Being online is not the solution. As stated here many times, being found online is one leg of this stool; getting visitors to return is your second leg, and offering advertisers an accountability so they may track ROI is the last leg. I'm just not seeing any of these used by the radio web sites I visit.

Online delivery means so much more than streaming. With the plethora of audio competition, all in the radio industry need to place much more effort into understanding exactly what it is they are working with online.

We no longer deliver what we want to consumers. They choose what they want to consume, from a vast array of content. And, make note, only they are able to call it "compelling." Only advertisers are able to say "that ad spend was worth it."

It's those last two points which, if accepted by the radio industry, will determine if anyone makes a go of it online.








Publisher's Note:
We have discontinued writing about the broadcast radio industry. Our previous mailing list has been deleted. To receive articles about online radio, its audience, and the growth of independent artists on internet radio playlists, please register for our newsletter.






Today's indie artist introduction to internet radio is...
New Country from Lisa Mowry
sample song
Some Things Are True

Download Song



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We listen for songs that evoke emotion; fast, slow, female, male, group, it doesn't matter. When an artist has the power to please, they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Lisa Mowry "Some Things Are True" a listen.

Add it to your station playlist, free! Such is the new world of music distribution.

It's time internet radio programmers reach into a huge pile of untapped talent.
It is here where new hit songs will increasingly be found.





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