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Radio has the Wrong Idea about Mobile Apps

…or at least, not completely the right idea.

Consider the study from the IPG Media Lab and which examined “advertising in the wild” to assess the effects of “viewer distraction” in a TV-viewing habitat of numerous gadgets and gizmos.

One of the conclusions was that “smartphones are a persistent companion to video content.”

put it:

The key word here is “companion”—meaning “in addition to,” not “a replacement of.” Mobile certainly is not television’s enemy; it is instead an opportunity for broadcast networks, cable companies, equipment manufacturers, app developers, and advertisers to enhance the TV experience by connecting one medium to another.

In radio, our premise too often is that a mobile app is simply a new distribution mechanism for our existing content in a new channel.

While this is not completely wrong it vastly oversimplifies the opportunity for radio’s mobile experience from every perspective – our brand’s, our consumers’ and our advertisers’.

And it’s all because we’re asking the wrong question, which is generally “How do I get my radio station on a mobile app in the cheapest possible way?” or “Should I or should I not be on IHeartRadio?”

A better question is “What companion experience to my radio station can provide value both to my consumers and my clients?” Note that the answer may have nothing to do with the radio stream itself., so while the stream has a place in an app it should not be the reason why an app exists.

The app should exist because your brand has fans and your brand has clients and your brand mediates relationships between them and you can monetize those relationships in a mobile space.

So what value can you add to your consumers and your clients, alike?

Consider a sports station or a station with a big morning show.  The opportunities to provide interactive mobile games and polls and conversation between fans and on-air hosts boggle the mind.  Seriously.

Consider a music station.  Does your app allow me to explore the music on your station and music like it? Does it allow me to vote on your songs and pick your playlist?

We need to stop thinking of our mobile opportunities simply as distribution channels and imagine them instead to be companions for our over-the-air experience.  New ways to attract and enhance loyalty and add value to consumers and advertisers in the presence of our brands.

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