Having recently arrived in Johannesburg from London I have to say that South Africa has very well-established radio stations and advertising models with a healthy audience. In terms of online audiences, the radio station websites have shown a slower growth when compared to those in the UK.
What does this mean when we talk about multi-channel advertising, in other words convergence?
They key to multi-channel advertising is that brands need to mirror its consumer’s media consumption. When thinking about any consumer of media at the moment, globally, one knows that they consume media differently than 10 years ago.
While listening to the radio, or watching television, the consumer also browses the internet through a handheld device such as a mobile phone, notepad or tablet. Consumers use the handheld devices to look at web pages and conduct searches.
Radio stations need to be able to cater to the consumer’s expectations and how they would like to interact with the brand. An example is that of one we surely all remember – Angelina Jolie’s leg at the Oscar awards ceremony. DJ’s all over the world were talking about it, redirecting listeners to their station’s website to get more details and see the pictures.
A more recent and local example is that of the Ingram’s Jacaranda 94.2 Winter Warmer campaign. For this campaign Mediamark utilised on-air and digital elements, on the ground activations (both trade and consumer), events, outdoor as well as print.
All these elements work together to drive the audience to listen to the radio and interact with the station’s online elements. When talking about online elements I refer to the station’s web site as well as its Facebook Page.
One of the challenges radio stations are facing world-wide is that of the decision as to whether to grow their web site audience or their Facebook presence. The UK is in the luxurious position of having a much higher penetration of online users – approximately 14 million out of 60 million people have daily online access. In South Africa these figures are much lower – about eight million out of 47 million people.
With a rapidly growing mobile industry this picture will obviously change as people will start accessing the internet via mobile, skipping the use of a PC all together. I believe that, in the next few years, when we see a sudden drop in the cost of mobile handsets and a lower cost of internet access businesses, including radio, who have online profiles will be exposed to a much broader online audience.
It is however critical that radio stations drive its audience to its website. While driving to work this morning I heard a very good example where the DJ directed the audience to the station’s website where they could pre-listen to clips involved in a competition that will be run a bit later during the day.
I am of the opinion that driving the on-air audience to the radio station’s Facebook Page however is not a strategically sound concept because, at the moment, the sales house cannot monetise that for the station. And even if we can in the not-so-distant future, Facebook will obviously want to take a share of any revenue that would be generated in advertising on a brand’s profile.
Jacaranda 94.2 and East Coast Radio do really well in terms of website audience number when compared to the national radio stations. As a matter of fact they have the highest two audience bases for radio stations in South Africa. They are number one and two in terms of unique visits. However, when compared to the likes of the big internet brands such as Microsoft, Sky, Facebook and Google in South Africa, they are tiny.
Therefore, the challenge radio stations have in the converged space is firstly the online audience. Secondly it is the strategic decision as to whether they will be driving traffic to their website or grow their Facebook profile. The third challenge is website content.
Over the years, and it is not just radio stations, media brands came to think that having a web portal is everything (a portal is the likes of MSN and Yahoo). One has seen portals trying to become very diverse propositions having a channel each for money, property, shopping and so forth. One’s niche sites, such as those of radio stations, cannot have this as they should focus on their strengths and what they stand for.
One of the most important things for a radio website is that of audience interaction and East Coast Radio is doing a great job at building an online community where people can chat about discussion that took place on-air and happenings within the Kwa-Zulu Natal region.
That brings me to another ‘happening’ – events. It is becoming a fast growing trend for radio stations to host events on large scale where thousands of people turn up, listening to live music, just having a great time. However, events have an area not yet fully taken advantage of by advertisers.
Why do advertisers not seem ready for multi-channel campaigns? Perhaps it is simply because, especially in South Africa, one has media buying specialists in the different channels – print buyers, television buyers, digital buyers. Are these specialists even interested in buying a campaign that runs across different channels? Perhaps not and that is where it is important to be able to speak to the brand’s marketing specialist directly.
Being innovative as a sales house, means that one should be able to easily take a consolidated proposal to the brand. It is something that will take some time getting used to, but broader campaigns will soon start flourishing when brands begin to understand the value of targeting audiences across many different channels.
Elton Ollerhead is managing director of Mediamark.