Welcome to the latest edition of Three Minutes With, where we interview leaders from the radio industry to give you insights about how to grow in digital. We always strive to bring you the most useful tactics to grow in digital, and we figure that there is no better way to do that than to talk to the people who are spearheading digital growth at their companies. This week, we are joined by Amy Stroud, Executive Vice President at Forcht Broadcasting, who has recently partnered with SoCast to build websites and accelerate digital growth for all 25 of their radio stations.
We had the great pleasure to spend some time with Amy to talk about her strategies in digital and how the medium will impact the broadcast industry. See the video of our interview with Amy below and as well as our analysis of the conversation.
How do you hope to see growth in digital revenue?
For Amy, the most important thing is to start with strong digital properties. You need to have a strong platform that provides your listeners with a place to access content in order to build a strong digital presence. Once you’ve established this digital presence, your sales people can take those numbers to clients and get digital revenue for it.
Amy’s thought process is very much aligned with SoCast’s philosophy and this is one of the main reasons that we entered into a partnership. Growing digital revenue starts with a foundation – having a platform that makes it easy to publish and manage content. Once you have content available to your audience on your website and social media pages, you can build engagement. Once you have substantial engagement and pageviews on your website, you can go out and sell that ad space to advertising partners. However, it all starts with the foundation, the platform, and this is how any radio group needs to start if they want to grow digital revenue.
What digital channels do you plan on using to reach your audience?
Amy noted that it is important to know where your listeners like to spend their time online. So if your audience uses Facebook, you need to be more active on Facebook. She also mentions how important it it to use several different types of media to interact with your audience on their website in order to create a better experience. This involves using things like video and social media integration on their website to help support this. This helps to enhance the website experience and also provides more opportunities to sell digital inventory to ad partners.
We agree with everything that Amy said here. One of the important things to point out is how interconnected your digital presence needs to be with your broadcast. Your station’s social media channels act as an additional channel to distribute your content, and serve your audience even when they miss your live broadcast. Another popular strategy to help support this is podcasting. Re-purpose your on-air content into podcasts so that people can access it even if they miss your live broadcast. This serves to reach a larger audience and increase the shelf-life of your content.
What’s been your biggest digital revenue driver this year?
Forcht Broadcasting has had a lot of success with selling inventory on their website. In addition to this, the company has also had success monetizing its texting platform. Since the company has thousands of listeners engaging with their DJs every month via text for things like song requests and birthday shout-outs, they took the opportunity to provide sponsorships on this channel as well.
We applaud Forcht’s creativity in terms of growing digital revenue at their stations. On the SoCast platform, users can monetize their SMS experience with our texting partner Zipwhip. Zipwhip provides the capabiliy to offer text-line sponsorships and drive listeners to ad partner loactions with keywords.
The point is that you need to monetize the properties where you have a strong digital presence. Do you have a lot of users on your mobile app? Be sure to monetize your mobile app. Get a lot of listeners on your station’s web player? Be sure to enable audio pre-roll ads. When it comes to growing digital revenue for your stations, it is important to build and focus on your strengths.
What’s the biggest opportunity today for radio to expand its audience?
Amy notes that for Forcht Broadcasting, different strategies work for different markets. For their news-heavy stations, website initiatives are the most successful, since that is where most of their listeners consume news content. Some of their markets are more Facebook-oriented so they double-down on that channel in those markets.
It is important to read your audience and see what works best for them. To support this, you need a strong analytics infrastructure, so that you can measure the success of all your digital initiatives. Once you have key metrics for all of your outreach strategies, you can determine which ones are most effective and double-down on those moving forward. Again, like with digital revenue, the key here is to focus on your strengths.
What is the one trend now that will have the most impact on radio?
In Amy’s opinion, the fact that more and more people are listening to radio via mobile devices is the biggest trend impacting radio right now. So, clearly, it’s very important to make sure that your station is streaming online. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that your website is mobile responsive and that your mobile apps provide an optimal user experience. She notes that some people will only engage via their mobile phones, so it is critical to ensure that you have that strong mobile experience.
We could not agree more that having an optimal mobile experience is absolutely critical to your radio station’s digital efforts. To quote a few stats, consumers are now spending more time on mobile devices than on desktop computers, mobile advertising is projected to grow 18.7% annually until the end of 2021 and some SoCast clients see as much as 90% of their website traffic from mobile. With all this in mind, you can't afford to not deliver a superior mobile experience to your listeners.
So, that wraps up this edition of Three Minutes With. Was great to chat with Amy as she had some awesome insights for us. To recap in point form:
- Start with a strong platform to build digital engagement and then monetize this engagement
- Know where your audience is online and engage with them in these channels
- Focus on monetizing the digital properties that have a strong digital presence
- Provide your users with a strong mobile experience
At SoCast, we have the platform you need to increase digital engagement. We also provide you with the tools to monetize that digital engagement. To learn how you can get started, talk to one of our Specialists today.