RADIO DEBRIEF: Over the past two decades the internet has grown from a niche medium to the all-encompassing beast that is today.
From a South African perspective, it is only in the last five years that it has gained major prevalence in our market. With accessibility and internet speeds really taking an upswing, coupled with the fact that data costs are decreasing daily, this has resulted in more people being online for and for longer periods of time. This has given rise to many online communities and mediums in which people interact with each other.
Radio is the original form of social media. Prior to TV and internet, radio was and still is the medium that best gives effect to social commentary. Do you recall the song Video killed the radio star? Well, it could be said that internet killed the video star.
Nevertheless, online radio is a medium that has been gaining momentum over the past two to three years. It’s a platform that focuses on the respective niche to which it communicates, allowing individuals to engage directly with a topic, culture or space of interest that is pertinent to them. Two examples in South Africa are Assembly Radio and Ballz Radio. The rise and longevity of these two platforms is proof of the South African market changing its view of online mediums.
The evolution of online radio has also shown that listeners are far more than groupings or numbers who can be bought using a series of runs and spreadsheets. They are a part of today’s popular social networking culture and will subscribe to media that understands their needs and interests best, allowing them to express their views and opinions. It positions itself at the heart of social media and can grab the attention of listeners/users and send them to in-depth content via its web pages and other digital platforms.
Online radio could be considered a ‘new species’ in a marketing ecology sense. When Facebook and Twitter started to gain prevalence as a channel of communication for brands, many an organisation did not initially see the value or believe it was necessary to make use of these platforms. Those brands that did get in early enjoyed the benefits of those early days of social media platforms and their organic reach. Those that didn’t found themselves left behind and scrambling to jump on the bandwagon of the powerful and effective tools that are Facebook and Twitter.
That being said, one needs to consider a brand’s communication channels as an ecology, and with the introduction of any new species to an ecology, the others need to adapt to change so as to survive. Online radio is this new species that, if used correctly in conjunction with Facebook and Twitter, can maximise the effectiveness of a brand’s overall communications and engagement strategy.
It is important to understand how the majority of South African’s access the internet. South Africa, along with greater Africa, accesses the web via mobile, through the increased availability of smartphones. This plays directly to the benefits of online radio, as it makes it accessible 24/7, from anywhere where there is cellular reception. What this means is radio is no longer confined to one’s car or kitchen counter, but more so whenever the need is felt to engage.
Online radio no longer deals with ‘listeners’. With the consumer being online already, they are no longer just listening; they are also engaging with the platform, through the various social media channels. So in this space we would refer to a ‘listener’ as a ‘user’. This new breed of consumer is more likely to follow up and investigate the information that they have become aware of through online radio. This obviously results in better ROI in a campaign.
What is more important is that using online radio, combined with new media, has the ability to increase not only campaign effectiveness but also provides a wealth of measurability with new technologies. This ensures that the advertiser gets what they book and that is there is accountability for what is paid for. Of course, in terms of exposure, this is one of the best ways to grow a brand’s credibility in the field and industry.
Online radio is a platform and medium that gives a digital entity a personal voice. It is about engagement, communication and content, full of rich, diverse and important information built into an area that the world is currently and always will be engaging.
This new digital species has all of the essential integrated marketing tools to help promote, market and build communities, whether the are online or offline. The good news is that it needn’t be costly or over complicated and there is no longer a necessity for high infrastructure costs.
Online radio users are a highly engaged demographic, affecting all areas of society, and they can be reached through the now grown up online radio platform.
Kevin Kai is director and founder of FML (For Music Lovers). Follow him on Twitter @KVNKAI