How Can Radio Win Online ?

Radio is being pressured by Wall Street to build online revenue. You read it in the Wall Street Journal and the industry trades. Layoffs, downsizing, automation of stations. Hard to believe that local ‘news’ stations don’t even have their own basic ‘news’ department. (they just read old news from the newspapers)

With that in mind….Newspaper websites have been seriously cranking along for almost 20 years now, TV for about 10.

What can Radio do to catch up, get into the local online battle, and grow their revenue share?

I recently spoke with a well respected, veteran Radio manager. They asked me if I knew of anybody that might be a good web seller for their cluster. I wondered if they thought all they had to do was hire a “web seller”, and their Internet business would grow nicely from there.

I felt like I angered them when I replied: “any experienced web seller will be expensive or tough to hire. The good ones are already making excellent $, working for a dot com or other web property. Plus, they might be wary of taking a sales job in an industry that’s scrambling to catch up. Maybe you should train your current staff first…..while you continue to look for a stand-out web seller?”

Additional thoughts about this very common question.

  • Taking it slow: not an option. That Newspaper and TV station across the street, along with online-only sites, are taking online share from you right now. They’re using their websites to accomplish that via podcasts, niche content, streaming audio channels, video, etc.. In addition, Google, and others are using cheap technology, and old fashioned sales pressure, to steal advertisers from right under your nose.
  • Understand that Web assets are first and foremost, business assets. While it may not generate  the same revenue as terrestrial, it IS the fastest growing segment of the marketing/entertainment/news world. Having your webmaster or marketing person ‘handle’ the web, is not enough. Hire web pros, develop a plan, and train your current staff……now.
  • Learn from the success/failures of TV, Newspapers, and other pure-play Web companies. These competitors currently have more Web experience under their belt. Apply lessons learned from them, and save ALOT of time and money.
  • Clean up and invest in your websites. Most Radio sites are cluttered, difficult to navigate, shallow, filled with commodity news, and often act as a ‘dumping ground’ for programming/marketing/sales initiatives. Check your stats and remove anything that gets insignificant/useless traffic. Then, develop a plan that caters to your web savvy listeners, or fills an un-tapped niche in your market. Use your station to drive awareness and traffic to that site/idea.
  • Leverage your close relationships with media buyers/planners; Broadcast reps will always have a shot to pitch interactive or cross platform programs, they already have a built-in trust and familiarity with the buyer. Then leverage your broadcast transmitter and signal. Realize the value to promote a client’s online destination, or a promotion housed within your station site. Radio has it’s very own megaphone on steroids; the transmitter. The dot com pure-plays don’t have this luxury.
  • Catch up on Internet marketing and Web 2.0 trends. Hire a trainer/specialist, or poach a Web professional from Print, TV or a You’ll have a much better chance of getting on the Web buy, or snagging some nice, incremental revenue. Ex: If you are primarily a spot (commercial) seller, you can no longer just rely on bringing the “WEB GUY” to the meeting.  If your in programming/marketing, you’ll build deeper relationships with your listeners, and will drive much more ‘engaged’ traffic to your site.

4 thoughts on “How Can Radio Win Online ?”

  1. All the points you raised are good ones and will result in more traffic and revenue. I’m just not so sure that it’s sufficient because it’s still catch-up.

    The problem radio faces is one of strategy. As traditional media invade each others turf – and pure-play entrants seek to redraw the map – radio needs more than better web sites they need to figure out where they are going – and what where their true value is.

    There are tremendous opportunities to leverage their strengths – but it’s going to take investment and vision.

    Unfortunately both seem to be in short supply.

  2. I have recently witnessed several radio stations setup accounts – Q102 and Booker’s Morning show could benefit from something such as this evolutionary move I think as a stepping stone but I have seen myself working with smaller stations there is unfortunately never any budget allocated to anything but “the signal”…

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