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I Don’t Need an App for That

The rule most broadcasters use in framing their mobile app (if they’re wise enough to have one) is: Does this app offer up a stream of the station? Does it throw in some podcasts and some blogs and even some social media feeds?

All of that’s fine – as far as it goes. But does it go far enough?

When you ponder a mobile platform for a station that can already be experienced on every mobile platform on every highway in your market (i.e., the “car”), you have to ask this question:

What will consumers want from a mobile app when they can already hear the station on every radio they own? Is the audio stream the end or only the beginning?

What can an app empower them to do that the audio feed of the station alone cannot?

Consider HBO.

Why would I want a mobile app from HBO? Would it be to watch whatever happens to be on HBO right now? In other words, would it be to have an identical parallel experience to the one offered by my TV?

HBO obviously doesn’t think so, because you can’t watch HBO “live” on the HBO GO app. Instead, the HBO GO app offers something you can’t see on TV – it offers you choice.

HBO is exclusive home to many of America’s favorite premium shows. Use the app to pick the ones you want. If they once aired on HBO they’re all there – every single one from every season.

You use the HBO GO app not because it’s identical to HBO, but exactly because it isn’t.

One of the biggest opportunities for a mobile app (one not on display in the HBO GO app, by the way) is the opportunity for interactivity.

Audience interactivity is one of radio’s oldest features, and I don’t mean interactivity as in “clicking buttons” and swiping. I mean interactivity as in interacting with the content on-air via digital channels.

“But isn’t that what Facebook and Twitter are for?” you might ask. Maybe, but those tools offer only a limited set of interactions, and if that’s enough interaction for you, then why bother with a mobile app at all?

Does your app empower your consumers to:

  1. Chat or share messages directly with on-air talent

  2. See talent in the studio

  3. Choose songs

  4. Fully participate in games

  5. Sign up for contests

  6. Be recognized as a fan with special status

  7. Watch music video, not simply listen to music audio

  8. Interact directly with your advertisers and their offers

  9. Customize their own mobile experience

  10. Choose relevant “Push” alerts

  11. Be part of an Insider’s club (which is not the same as a “frequent listener club”)

  12. Crowd-source content for games or features

  13. Choose audio content different from what’s on the air?

  14. Etc.

Does your app do what your station can’t – or simply what your station already does?

Because if it’s only about what your station already does…

…then I don’t need an app for that.

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