Online Radio will be just that much taller and iridescent this year. We are starting to see a sudden peak of interest in this space – driven more by tech-savvy mobile users, rather than by the industry.
This, of course, is good news for advertising in the space.
How will it evolve/change since last year?
Radio is evolving more in the way in which it is being accessed. From apps on our mobile devices to our laptops and Smart TV’s – access to digital radio or digital music streaming is becoming more available. Added to this, we have an increase in niche stations speaking to markets who share similar interests, cultures and beliefs – listeners who are actively choosing to listen and engage within these digital environments.
The digital space is opening the door for newcomers, creating opportunities for these smaller stations to broadcast without the huge overhead costs, “red tape” and licensing associated with being a traditional broadcaster.
What are some of the biggest trends that agencies need to take note of/ look out for?
With limited/ no availability on the FM spectrum, the only other option is to use FM’s oldest cousin AM or shift over completely to digital broadcasting.
Online radio is finally gaining recognition as a real means of broadcasting, with existing terrestrial stations migrating over, new stations starting up and ongoing brand conversations around developing really good, quality content. Online radio is changing the face of radio, whereby instead of simply broadcasting, these stations are becoming content generators, engagement and innovation hubs, and distributers.
Agencies and brands need to make the mental shift away from the idea of “how many millions of people will this reach” and rather to “how many real engagements will my brand have?”
It’s a similar concept to focusing on brand ‘influencers’, some of whose followings start from as little as 500 people. Yes, it’s 500 people, but it is 500 people who have chosen to follow this person because they agree with and enjoy the content being produced by ‘said influencer’. With very tight budgets, the spray and pray model is just not going to cut it. Rather fish where the fishes are.
What challenges does online radio sales face?
We face many challenges but coming off the back of 2018 one of the biggest challenges being faced is data charges, ultimately directly affecting accessibility.
On a lighter note, there has been an ongoing growth of free wi-fi zones, compressed data and service providers (like Cell C – Black & Telkom FreeMe) providing customers with free streaming opportunities.
Another big challenge is that online radio does not have an industry measurement tool such as the BRC – meaning that listener sweeping is currently not possible. However, what this does open the door for; specifically, in a digital environment, is the development of a more robust listener data profiling tool, one of which delves deeper into who our listeners really are – from their interests, likes, dislikes, family structures and any information that could effectively “build a listener profile.”
Costing of online radio, just like that of Facebook (as a medium for brand communication), needs to be tailored to suit the model. This means that we cannot sell online radio like the traditional radio model of “spot rates.” Digital costing methods using; cost per click, cost per engagement or cost per lead, make sense to this type of platform. As such, online radio needs its own way of being costed, one that makes sense to the digital space it finds itself in.
This is where the Cost Per Listener or CPL™ model comes onto play. Capped within a set band, the CPL method allows advertisers to pay for actual listeners reached per day. Currently this is calculated by the number of total unique IP’s streaming per day; but as mentioned previously, once an effective sweeping model can be implemented, advertisers will know exactly who listened.
What is the biggest opportunity in online radio sales?
The biggest opportunity for online radio sales is to showcase the transparency of real audience figures. Transparency in radio means that although we have an average of 600 000 listeners per week, we have 20 000 listeners at 12pm and 150 000 at 8pm – we have real numbers and real understanding of those numbers.
Again, through the creation of niche stations, we are able to plug brands into an existing pool of people who already have clear interests in certain things such as; sport, religion, student life, education, business in Africa, hip-hop music etc. Again, fish where the fish are.
Anything else you would like to add about the space or selling in this space?
It’s time for agencies and brands to stop talking about being innovative and actually pioneer innovation, by stepping out of the traditional method of media buying, and acknowledging and learning about these new and innovative ways of effectively speaking to their audiences.