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Radio’s Mobile Challenge

I think most broadcasters are thinking about mobile all wrong.  The thinking goes like this:

“We need a dedicated mobile app for our station!”


“We need to get our stations on mobile apps that already exist, like Tunein or IHeartRadio!”

Both of these are wrong (or at least vastly insufficient) for the same reason:  They are about you, while mobile is about the consumer – her problems, needs, and interests – and the advertiser – who wants more than reach in a world where you can connect so much more meaningfully.

Richard Ting lays out the upside for mobile in this piece.

At the heart of the opportunity is the discrepancy between where consumers spend their time and where advertisers spend their dollars:

The slide shows that while “Print” (which is rarely just print anymore) vastly over-performs in terms of ad-share relative to consumption, Internet and particularly Mobile dramatically under-perform.

The data is originally from eMarketer, which also indicated trends over time – trends which look really strong for TV/Video, Internet, and Mobile, and not so strong for everybody else:

These stats were summarized in a chart by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins (the basis of Ting’s chart) which integrated both the usage shares and the trends:

Note the upward momentum for Internet and Mobile – and the huge gaps in ad spend.

So what does this all mean to you?  Ting writes:

The diversity of tactics in the mobile medium is astounding. Advertisers now have an extremely robust palette of mobile tools to choose from to connect their messages and experiences with their desired audiences thanks to advancements in mobile ad units, mobile search, mobile apps, mobile websites, and SMS. Each of these mobile tactics is now being successfully embraced by advertisers to drive brand awareness, consideration, purchases, and loyalty.

Among the innovations appearing today or soon, the power to leverage…

  1. Location information

  2. Gestures

  3. UI advancements to reduce complexity and provide for more compelling services

  4. Voice control

  5. Personalization

Do these innovations sound like your app?

So the central problem for broadcasters is not planting their brands on mobile platforms so folks can listen to their stations in more places.  The central problem is participating in a new and ever-more-ubiquitous medium where consumers and advertisers are solving their problems in new ways and via new platforms.

This is not just about a sponsorship on your stream in a mobile space or an in-stream ad.  It’s about keeping pace with the state of change in the mobile space and embracing tools not just to extend your brands but to extend the ability for your audiences and your clients to connect to their mutual benefit. That will go well beyond your app to a variety of mobile platforms.

Being a “local media company” means you’re in the business of solving problems leveraging your established relationships between consumers and your clients, not the business of extending your brand.

Keep this in mind:  The ad dollars for mobile will have to come form somewhere – and chances are they will come from everywhere else, including radio.

Broadcasters would be smart to learn everything they can about the mobile space and develop a consumer/client-based strategy and not settle into the mistaken assumption that the biggest problem they face in mobile is whether to create their own station app or to climb aboard the IHeartRadio train.

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