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Radio Warms up to Mobile Apps and Smart Devices

A moving target with big potential

Radio broadcasters who search for yet another way to reach the ears of an audience, have taken a page from other businesses, and started to develop mobile apps and leverage the power of smart devices like Amazon’s Alexa. Those who were looking for information to help them in that quest, were able to get a view of the landscape at the NAB Show 2018 session “Smart Devices and Mobile Apps for Radio.”

Presenters from the NAB, Beasley Broadcast and Hubbard Broadcasting gave their perspectives.

NAB Director of Technology Education and Outreach Brian Savoie began his talk with a quote from Mark Cuban; “Watch what the geeks are doing because you’ll be doing that in a few years.” He said the evolution of smart speakers, like the Alexa platform, have become such a part of people’s lives in such a short time.

Smart speakers have been around for two and a half to three years, said Savoie, and because of those differences, they need to be looked at differently when creating content for those devices. He presented data which estimated that 56.3 million of those devices would ship in 2018, and a projection that by 2020, 75% of households would have a smart speaker by 2020.

[Read: NAB Show BEITC: Change Is Coming; Change Is Needed]

Steve Myers is Beasley Broadcast Media Group executive vice president, Digital Media. Myers showed the on-going evolution of mobile apps across the Beasley, stating “more than 70% of our audience interacts with our brands digitally through our mobile apps.” In just the first quarter of 2018, Beasley created more than 550,000 pieces of content (posts, audio clips, pictures, etc.) for their stations, which averages out to 93 pieces of content per day per station site. Users are using the mobile sites less to listen to a station stream, and more to consume the other content. The takeaway: “We need to provide access to our content, access to our brands, when, where, how and if our audience wants it.”

Hubbard Broadcasting’s Vice President of Digital Strategy Jeremy Sinon recounted the company’s efforts to improve their on line presence across all their stations. The company has apps for Apple and Android devices, in addition to scalable web pages that open and look the same on any device (desktop, tablet, laptop, mobile, etc.). All the apps and Alexa skills point back to the company managed application programming interface. Users aren’t required to register, but are encouraged to with incentives, like the company’s listening rewards programs which gives registered listeners (near 250,000 across all the company’s platforms) chance to win prizes based on time spent listening. That allows the company to collect measurable and verifiable data on listening. Sinon said, “Listener data can help us form closer relationships with our listeners. And it ain’t bad for marketing, either.”

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