At the New Media Executives Super Session yesterday at the NAB Radio Show in Austin, experts shared their views on superserving listeners with the latest tools of the trade. The panel moderated by Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications and Chair, NAB Radio Show Steering Committee, were Deb Esayian, Co-President Emmis Interactive; David Goodman, President, Digital Media & Integrated Marketing, CBS Radio; Marc Horine, Vice President, Digital Partnerships & Sales ESPN Digital Media; and Mike Agovino, COO, Triton Media Group.
Topics were focused on ways to offer up and monetize podcasting, streaming, video, social networking, and local sports coverage.
According to slides presented at the session from Borrell Associates, radio currently only scores 2.1% of the local online ad share. Much of the blame for that rested on getting into the game late; not attempting the “city site” approach many newspapers and TV stations have tried (even though pure play sites held 50% of that ad revenue pie); and only viewing the website as a place to put an online stream.
Is radio too late to the dance? “Absolutely not,” said Agovino. “The first evolution of this has pretty much been being a radio station that has a website. Version 2.0 of that is being a local digital media brand that also happens to have the power of the tower.”
Esayian notes the biggest way to play catch-up is going to require re-inventing the wheel and not copy-catting what everyone else is doing out there. “It’s taking everything we know as broadcasters and bringing that to light in our own unique style and ways.”
Goodman thought the 2.1% was actually good for radio, in that it shows how much opportunity is still out there for stations to capitalize on local online ad dollars.
Horine agrees—nothing but opportunity, but ESPN has seen continuous growth in online ad sales over the last seven years—double digit growth in ad sales, unique users and page views. Their key was to hire folks dedicated to the ESPN.com brand, not to just add the responsibility to the PD’s plate. Since ESPN is video-based, much of the content, sports scores and commentary was already there. It just needed to be re-packaged and given interactive functionality.
So the mantra became: Content is king, so find compelling content to put on the websites, and don’t worry so much about it being tied to the main on-air signal. The signal can drive folks to the site, but it does not have to be “on-air-centric.”
Esayian recommended alliances—but the content should be proprietary to your site.
On streaming, Goodman mentioned how nice it is today to have such a huge audience outside of the stations’ on-air coverage area—he mentioned WFAN NY’s audience is actually some 50% outside of the DMA. The good news, is, for example, that he can be listening to WXRT Chicago’s stream in New York and be served up a local ad from the New York City area.
Other recommendations for increasing traffic included widgets for all kinds of content and services; user-generated content; interactivity; audio indexing/searching; local sports coverage/highlights (there are turnkey companies out there for high school and college sports packaging).