In radio, there is always a ton of exciting new technologies to capitalize on. Our industry is constantly impacted by massive changes in technology. It’s what makes it such an exciting industry to work in.
However, how can you know what the best technologies to invest in are? When is it too early to invest? When is it too late? How can you avoid wasting your time on “big shiny objects” - technologies that pundits say is “the next big thing” but end up returning poor results?
These are important questions for you to ask as a radio broadcaster.
To make this easier for you to visualize, we’ve organized several technologies for radio into a matrix to help evaluate opportunities. This matrix is by no means exhaustive of every technology impacting radio, but these examples are chosen to illustrate the framework.
Here are our suggestions how to handle technologies in each category.
Well-defined opportunity, demonstrated high value:
These are technologies that have established practices and demonstrated value for radio. These are technologies that you should definitely be investing in. There are guidelines and best practices as to how to implement and use these technologies. The technology has a wide base for support, knowledge and is widely used in the industry on a regular basis. If you are not making the most of these opportunities, you are clearly leaving money and audience engagement opportunities on the table. Mobile apps with streaming for instance, are a must for radio.
Nascent opportunity, high potential value:
These technologies make logical sense for radio, but have not yet found strong adoption amongst broadcasters. With podcasting for instance, radio stations can repurpose their on-air content for podcasts to further engage with their audiences and sell additional digital inventory. Certainly, we have heard a lot of buzz and excitement about technologies such as voice-activated technologies and podcasting at Radiodays Europe and WorldWide Radio Summit. However, so far not many people are actually doing these things. For instance, according to our 2017 Digital Trends in Radio Survey, only 14% of broadcasters believe podcasts to be a “very important” driver of their website traffic today.
Our suggestion for these technologies is to invest in these, but to proceed with caution. There are still some nuances that have not yet been determined (i.e. - best practices for monetization and measuring success for podcasts). As third-party support for these channels picks up, they will provide more opportunity for radio (i.e. - more advertisers creating ads specifically for podcasts).
Nascent opportunity, unknown potential value:
These are the technologies that you need to be careful of. These technologies could have high value for radio, but this potential value is less defined than opportunities in the previous category and are still very new to the industry. Snapchat is the best example here. Sure, it has high engagement with younger audiences, as it is used by 72% of 12-24 year olds, but the potential monetization opportunities for radio are relatively undefined. There are also no well-defined guidelines on how radio stations can use Snapchat to drive engagement. According to our 2017 Digital Trends in Radio survey, only 13% of broadcasters use Snapchat on a regular basis.
For these technologies, you need to evaluate whether they will work for your brand. Perhaps your radio station does have a high proportion of its listeners in the 12-24 age group. In that case, it may make sense to have a dedicated Snapchat account for your station.
If you do decide to invest in technologies such as these, keep your investment small in the beginning, validate that the opportunity is right for your company and gradually invest more.
Well-defined opportunity, demonstrated low value:
These are technologies that have come and gone. They are the “big shiny objects” of the past that people got excited about but which ended up yielding little actual value for radio. They can fall apart for a variety of reasons, such as poorly implemented technology, poor support or simply a lack of takeup from consumers.
Radio apps for wearable technologies such as Apple Watch are an example. Surely, the concept of creating an app for a smartwatch is not too difficult to grasp. However, due to the poor consumer adoption of smartwatches, it is not a strong opportunity for radio. It should be noted, however, that if one day many consumers did start wearing smartwatches, such apps could become a strong opportunity for radio.
We hope that this article has given you some idea of how you should be evaluating new technologies to invest in for your radio brand. When implementing a new technology or trying a new idea, there will always be some element of risk. To a degree, it is up to you as a broadcaster to decide what will work best for your brand and decide how to allocate your technology investments. SoCast is committed to helping you determine which technologies are worthwhile to increase digital revenue and engagement. Talk to a SoCast Specialist today see how you can leverage new technologies in order to help you grow in digital.