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Thursday, July 31, 2014

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Taking A Count of Your Online Numbers

Had a conversation with one large market general sales manager recently, who proudly proclaimed that their station was "deep into digital." Knowing this person's company's online movement, I questioned what exactly was meant by "digital," to which this was quickly replied: "We have a web site with banner ads and a Facebook page."
"Simply having a web site and running banner ads, with audio ads in your stream, doesn't make any radio station digital. It just means you're online."

A little more probing was needed. "What do you do with your metrics?" I asked. "Are you calculating an advertiser's ROI, based on data from your web site and stream?" As expected, the answer was "No, we run banner ads, and our over-the-air audio commercials in the stream."

For those who have been reading words here for the past 18 years, you know what came next - "You're not digital." You are selling the same product online that you sell over-the-air. You aren't even close to being what the tech world considers "digital." I haven't heard back on the points they asked me to forward via email so I think the person put me in that don't want to talk with anymore category. How strange that I suggest they hadn't bridged the chasm between traditional radio and the digital world; I must not know what I'm talking about.

And, you know, they may be right. I may be very wrong about the way radio will embrace digital, and that it's just up to the industry chiefs to redefine the term "digital" for the radio world. That's very much like statements proclaiming "radio is the original social media," "radio is the original mobile," or "radio has been doing 'Native Advertising'" since long before it came to the techies.

The problem with the above claims is that all of them are wrong, yet those working in radio firmly believe they are right. Therefore, to them, radio is deep into digital.

Trust me on this, whether you operate a broadcast or pureplay station. From what I've seen, there are only a couple of players in this game that approach the correct definition of being "digital."

There is so much that can be done if you take the numbers available through server logs and organize them on a spreadsheet.

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About radio web sites: viewing how many total visits, which pages are most visited (and length of time on each), and counting which links on each page are most used gives great insight to site navigability, the interests of your audience, and which pages need more attention.

Step farther into "digital" and you do "A/B" testing of headlines, banner ads, and link positions to improve numbers on each. That's what the term "digital" refers to; using data gained in this very accountable environment to improve user experience, programming choices, and advertiser ROI.

Simply having a web site and running banner ads, with audio ads in your stream, doesn't make any radio station digital. It just means you're online.

Google Analytics is free. That every radio station online isn't using this - or another - analytics and metrics package is wasteful and foolish.

Proclaiming you are "digital" - when the same advertiser you say that to gets visited next by a Pandora, DoubleClick, or any of the dozens of ad-serving platforms offering digital interpretations of a campaign - will do nothing more than show some advertisers what you don't know.

"We're digital" is meaningless unless you use the numbers provided to account and improve on what has been done.

For radio programmers, use numbers to improve programming. For sales managers, use "ads served" against "ads clicked" numbers to determine the effectiveness of your client's campaign. Until you do this (to a minimum), when you do proclaim yourself "digital," those in the room who know will know that you're failing to understand. They'll also know you soon will be beaten by competition that really is digital.

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Today's indie introduction is to...
Hip Hop artist Ence
sample song
Gotta Go/B>

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When an artist has the power to please they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Ence's "Gotta Go" a listen.

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