Mobile devices are the flavor of the
day, but in reality they long have played a part in the radio business.
Sometimes they’ve worked to radio’s advantage, sometimes not so much.
The Radio Advertising Bureau has put
together a Tuesday morning panel at the 2012 NAB Show titled “Is Mobile Marketing
the Future of Advertising in Radio?”
“The mobile opportunity is enormous,”
said Deborah Roth, vice president of corporate communications at pure-play Web
streamer Pandora. “It accounts for a majority of our listening hours already,
and represents a massive revenue opportunity.”
She put the mobile and non-traditional share
of Pandora listening at 70 percent (non-traditional meaning connected CE
devices, automobiles, tablets and so forth). She cited mobile listening as key
to Pandora’s long-term vision.
Roth estimates that Pandora is
available on more than 500 types of consumer electronics devices, which in
addition to smartphones also include TVs, Blu-ray players and e-readers.
John Potter, vice president of training
at the Radio Advertising Bureau, cited overall mobile ad revenues for 2011 at more
than $1 billion. “And it’s projected for huge increases over the next five
years. Mobile is off to the races.”
Potter went to the Consumer Electronics
Show in January and said the buzz for mobile is evident worldwide. In fact,
outside the United States, most people treat their phone as their access to the
Internet, whereas Americans still use their PCs as their primary link. He
expects that to change here as well.
In addition to providing the user the
ability to tune in any station’s audio streams, a smartphone brings user interactivity
and pictures — stills, videos or graphics — to the screen. This visual element
can present added value to an advertiser.
Citing a real-life scenario involving
auto service company Jiffy Lube, Potter explained the advantage that marketing
over mobile devices can bring.
In addition to selling Jiffy Lube a
radio spot, one local station also sold them a coupon, served to mobile device
screens. The listener could take the coupon — and the device screen — to the
Jiffy Lube location to receive a discount.
“Jiffy Lube was able to validate how
many people had actually come in and used that coupon, and the station has been
able to show a true metric” from the process.
Broadcast radio can expect more head-to-head
competition from at least one big-name streamer.
Pandora’s Roth told Radio World, “We’re
rapidly building up our local sales force in the top radio markets. As more and
more local and regional businesses seek cost-effective, customized digital ad
campaigns, they are turning to Pandora for innovative ad solutions that
effectively reach their target audience.”
She said Pandora would “staff accordingly.”
Like a pushbutton
RAB’s Potter said that serving
listeners via mobile demands that stations improve their websites.
“The first thing they need to do is
design the website so that it comes up in a user-friendly look and feel when a
mobile device is accessing it.”
A second priority is that the mobile
experience should include phone-specific features like text messaging.
While smartphones include browsers, “the
browser on the phone is something Americans are reluctant to use, compared to
mobile apps,” said Paul Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs Media and its jacAPPS division. Smartphone
users are used to downloading mobile applications designed for specific types
of smartphones and their operating systems.
“What you’re starting to see with
mobile apps for radio is a combination of a native application and
mobile-enabled Web pages,” said Jacobs.
“At the end of the day, the ability of
a radio station to get their icon on the desktop of a person’s smartphone is
the best branding you can have. It’s akin to having a pushbutton on a car
As to some features that a station can
add through an app, Jacobs listed links to podcasts, videos, news, schedules,
social media, the last-five-songs, places for listeners to post pictures from
station events and more.
Some stations emphasize fun. “We did an app for one station
that wanted to allow listeners to gossip. So now they’ve got a gossip section.”
He noted that a station format will
dictate some of the design of a given app. For example, “News stations and
sports stations provide a significantly higher level of content, written text
news, so that listeners can read the news stories.”
While such features may increase the
cost to create a station app, they also provide a sponsorship possibility
beyond traditional radio advertising.
A smartphone can be plugged into a
car’s audio system and used to access radio websites while driving. And radio
managers are also watching the new emerging subclass of mobile devices: in-dash
These may seem to cut both ways. They’re
another opportunity for stations to reach listeners with their audio streams;
but they presumably take away from over-the-air listening; and each in-car Internet
model could be yet another device that needs a customized app.
Help is on the way on that front, however.
Earlier this year, Livio Radio launched its Livio Connect API (application
platform interface) middleware framework protocol, which allows apps written
for smartphone operating systems to work with in-car Internet radios using a
certain chipset. That should simplify a radio station’s path into a car’s
dashboard entertainment system.
And while the in-car radio may draw
fire from officials who want to ban cell phones from cars altogether, Jacobs
said carmakers “are collectively very sensitive to this. They understand the
consumer demanding a better experience in the car, but they always have an eye
toward Washington, D.C.”
He said Ford, for one, has promoted
hands-free, voice-activated systems where the driver doesn’t even have to look
at the dashboard to tune his Internet radio, much less reach out and touch it.
Listening to Internet radio with mobile
devices is a parade that’s well underway. The trick for radio is to get out in
front of it.
Speakers at the panel “Is Mobile
Marketing the Future of Advertising in Radio?” include representatives of
JacAPPS, Pandora, ESPN Digital Partnerships, Hipcricket and Marketron.