Radio and the Future of Digital: 2013

Henry Blodget at Business Insider just published an updated look at the future of digital media that has consequences for those who are fighting the audio wars in the radio trenches and elsewhere.

Here are a few highlights – but I encourage you to check out the full presentation.

What rises to the top of the pile of factoids is the increasing importance of mobile as a platform, a destination, a vehicle through which consumers prefer to receive content, and a destination for advertising dollars which will, sooner or later, follow attention and consumption.

Indeed, most online devices are now smartphones or tablets, and that advantage is estimated to grow over time.


In terms of the time consumers spend with various media, the stats show that mobile is the only media time that’s growing. Note the steady decline in consumer time associated with radio in this picture. As I have long argued, radio is not immune to the same media choices and attention dispersion that afflict all other established media.


In fact, social media and music consumption are now mostly mobile activities. 85% of Pandora’s traffic is estimated to come from mobile in 2013 – 80% for Twitter and 65% for Facebook.

And the ultimate mobile device is, to be sure, the car. Below you’ll find estimated forecasts for “connected car revenue.” Note that the majority of this revenue will come from in-vehicle services. Stuff you and I and the advertisers who covet us pay for.

While these dollars pale in comparison to the ad dollars delivered to radio today, there can be no question that some of these dollars will be sourced from that exact same pile. At the same time, some of the dollars (and the services they enable) will be new – an opportunity for anyone delivering content to the car, connected or otherwise.


So the question is: Are you ready for the mobile future? The one where a plethora of media alternatives compete for attention with your brands on the platforms consumers choose, whether you do or not?

Because that mobile future is already here.

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  • Gabriel Barnes

    Why do you think that Pandora gets so much listening on mobile compared to that of radio stations and their applications? Station app usage continues to grow and the traffic is moving from the desktop to the mobile, but why does it appear that pandora has had such great success with it? Anything to do with the fact that they have invested in an app and not a mobile web player, if you will?

    It was interesting to note that last year, analytics firm, Localytics, released a study stating that mobile nearly half of radio station mobile app usage and listening was done so in areas outside of normal terrestrial broadcast range.

    Interested in your thoughts on why Pandora has been able to figure it out so well..

  • Gabriel, thanks for the note.

    Pandora gets the listening because it has first mover advantage and because it is a simple, well-executed fulfillment of its consumer promise. Terrestrial radio is not customizable, nor must it rely on an app and an Internet connection to be consumed. So while these services draw from the same pool of folks who want music and lots of it, radio continues to treat their digital extensions as repurposing opportunities or red-headed stepchildren.
    So much of radio app usage is outside the area of signal for a very simple reason: Why in the world do you need to stream something when you can get it on one of the six radios in your household already?

  • Gabriel Barnes

    Great point on your last question! So those numbers can be a bit misleading on app usage outside the area of signal.
    As a first mover, Pandora looks to remain at the top. And it only makes sense that the mobile will also have the heaviest usage b/c, if i can recall, the mobile came first to its desktop client or somewhere very close in terms of release date.
    It always appears on the outside (and now being on the inside kind of) that the one’s (radio stations) who “get it” are the ones with money in the major markets.
    The others simply think that by getting mobile and giving away their users to companies like TuneIn will actually work against them in the long run, as these companies begin to pitch the local advertisers – and pitching those advertisers the opportunity to reach the ears and eyes that the station so easily handed over.
    So I suppose the “red-headed stepchildren” comment would make sense… radio has remained strong over the decades, but in a day and age where changes come rapidly and get be drastic, it appears that if the majority of stations want to survive, they will have to adapt.

  • stratomartin

    I tend to agree with most of MRamseys viewpoints, and I would respectfully suggest that Pandora’s, et al, rise to stardom has a great deal to do with the fact that it offers a solution the monstrous problem of unwelcome, intrusive, and intellectually offensive audible on air advertising.

    If there is death–––or more likely a chronic illness–––within the world of terrestrial radio, it is the glut of advertising. Same thing on TV. NPR started off this way in the 60s/70s but advertising (their beloved pledge drives and “sponsorship” announcements) is now overwhelming even that venerable platform.

    HBO, Netflix, Cook’s Illustrated, all know how to solve this problem. Superb content. Build it, and you will have customers.

  • Sounds good to me! Thanks for the note!

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