(Publisher's Note: The following appeared at Audio Graphics on December 31, 2001.
The act of attracting an online audience is far more difficult than anyone imagined. Plus, that audience is much less loyal than your local listeners.
So why do radio stations continue to spend money on inadequate web sites, then promote them heavily on-air?
Why are stations now beginning to ask listeners to sign up for "...your exclusive (station) newsletter...", when there are more effective ways of building an e-mail address list?
Why then, when watching the likes of PressPlay, MusicNet, AOL Radio, Yahoo! Radio (and all their similar-sized online radio competitors,), does a local station hope to build enough of an online audience to make construction, operation, and maintenance costs of that site worthwhile?
If radio wants to compete [online] it must find a way to present a user with items-of-interest that cannot be found through more familiar (read: traditional) media. Newspapers and magazines have long beaten radio in delivery of this type of local information.
"...radio execs must consider the Net a tool for managing listener/client relationships."
...So radio is faced with an expensive opportunity, at a time when it's cutting operating costs.
The rational solution is to turn the radio station web site into a service site... nothing more.
The web site should be a dispenser of information the user needs to make their life easier. It might be a place to go for quick contest registration, live updates of concert ticket sales, Instant Messaging requests for school closures (which are answered by a person during drive times), or the place a client goes to hear their commercial before airing.
Let the site point to the station for getting news on artists. And of course stream your signal, but make sure that the local user is directed to the station frequency.
To achieve a margin of profit from the Internet, radio execs must consider the Net a tool for managing listener/client relationships.
...because there is no amount of streaming that a single station can do that's going to make the cost of a web site worthwhile.
Quotes from Ken. Year, 2001:
This year will bring the truth: Consolidation debt will force further reduction
in operating expense, a soft ad market will keep radio stocks down, a failure to
fully grasp what Internet users are looking for will continue , and competition
from satellite radio with auto industry support means the radio sales rep must
argue their point better than ever....
Consumers have proven that owning the market isn't a strong enough reason to
support the product if it's poor - America's car manufacturers found that out
in the seventies. Heavy spot loads, non-relative banter by poorly trained DJs,
and ad sales packages that haven't changed in decades are the weight today's
account rep will struggle with.
I'll say it again - the Internet is not just for gathering an audience, which is
the way most stations view it.
I'd like to call your attention to looking at using the Internet for enhancing
the business side of broadcasting.
Having just passed outdoor (at $5 billion annual revenue),online advertising
is gaining on the cable-tv ad business. And radio's next.
Have a safe and merry holiday.