Three Big Opportunities for Digital Growth in Radio

Posted by Symon Edmonds

Mar 28, 2017 2:34:34 PM

Radio is evolving beyond traditional terrestrial programming and digital is becoming a more important part of the brand experience. If you want to thrive in this space, you'll have to work to keep up! In the past few years, digital revenues for radio have grown significantly and this trend is poised to continue. In fact, digital is expected to see double digit percentage growth for the next several years. Last year, digital revenue was $1.72 billion, as opposed to $14.2 billion in traditional revenue according to industry analyst Jack Myers. However, by 2020 these revenues are predicted to be $3.15 billion and $17.8 billion respectively, with digital’s share of total revenue growing from 10% to 15%. Clearly, digital is growing very quickly while traditional revenues are growing more modestly. Knowing this, your station needs to be at the forefront of the digital movement.


We’ve identified 3 areas for you and your teams can focus on to keep up with the digital revolution - digital revenue opportunities, voice-activated devices and podcasting/audio-on-demand.

1. Digital revenue opportunities


Increasingly, there are more opportunities to monetize your website, mobile app and other digital assets (primarily social). These revenue sources are becoming more important as listening consumption continues to move to digital channels. Failing to capitalize on this is simply leaving money on the table.


Offering digital advertising and sponsorship options to your ad partners such as native social, video ads, integrated campaign solutions and interactive display ads is becoming more relevant as more listening moves online. Digital technology allows broadcasters to measure ad efficacy more accurately than on-air ads, so you can better present the value to your ad partners.  Advances in ad tech may also allow you to employ geo-targeted ads, meaning that only users within a certain geographic location will be able to see certain ads. This would allow an advertiser such as a local boating store to limit where their digital ads are seen, keeping their audience local and thus making the advertisement more valuable, allowing the broadcaster to charge a higher premium.


Another important trend for digital revenue is programmatic buying. This allows broadcasters to sell their excess inventory via a programmatic platform and ensures that you're not losing out on potential revenues.


2. Voice-activated devices

Another important trend in digital is the rise of voice-activated devices.  Devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home increase radio's opportunity to reach listeners and allow them to listen to your live radio streams and podcaststs at home and the office.  With radio listening trending towards digital channels, these technologies give broadcasters a more modern way to connect with their audiences and extend their reach.

“We’re filling in those gaps where an AM/FM radio may not be available, but now you’re still able to have that connection and stay in touch with your favorite radio station or your favorite personality.” - Chris Williams, Chief Product Officer at iHeartRadio.


3. Podcasting/audio-on-demand

Podcasting and audio-on-demand is another key opportunity for radio to grow in digital. To give you an idea regarding the size and growth of podcasting, the medium grew 23% between 2015 and 2016 and 57 million Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis.

Podcasting allows broadcasters to go deeper into topics that they are passionate about. By utilizing their existing fanbase and experience in audio programming, they can attract listeners and in turn, give radio sellers ample opportunities to offer advertisers spots as podcast sponsors.

“Podcasting is a growth medium, with more and more people listening in the car, on the train or at home,” says Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates. “Now, voice bots like Alexa and Google Home are allowing for even more listening.”

iHeartRadio has been bolstering its offerings by launching new podcasts with its popular hosts such as Ryan Seacrest and Bobby Bones. The company recently hired a new podcasting lead to continue its expansion into podcasting.

At the local level, broadcasters have been making locally focused podcasts such as Galaxy Communications’ “Sunday Brunch”, centered on local events in Syracuse, NY.

“These are things that advertisers and listeners are migrating to. Sunday Brunch averages 7,500 downloads per episode and one episode even hit 10,000 downloads. In a market like Syracuse that is pretty significant.” - Ed Levine, President of Galaxy Communications.

As a radio broadcaster, what should you be taking away from this? First, that digital revenues are experiencing rapid growth while traditional revenues have matured. Given the shift in listening habits, there are new advertising opportunities in different areas of which your station can take advantage. Second, that there are now more ways that you can reach your audience, such as voice-activated devices - this is another great way to extend your programming reach and make it easier for your audiene to find your content no matter the time or place. Last, podcasts and audio-on-demand build greater brand affinity with your audiences by allowing them to consume your content when it's convenient for them. With the growth of this popular medium, it is more important than ever that you're able to meet your audience's evolving habits.  

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Utilizing a strong digital platform to reach your audience in web, mobile and social is essential to ensuring that you have high engagement in digital and that you are able to offer strong advertising opportunities. SoCast gives you the tools that you need in order to manage your digital properties and increase engagement so that you have a strong offering for advertisers. Speak with a SoCast Specialist today to see what you can do to bolster your digital presence and increase audience engagement.
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