Digital Strategy for Radio Stations

February 17, 2008
Today’s radio station is so much more than just a “stick” to distribute audio content to its coverage area. Radio stations are powerful brands with large cumulative audiences that offer the opportunity to extend brand, enhance audience engagement, and create new revenue streams across multiple delivery platforms and devices. While live streaming is valuable and extends distribution of the on-air content, it does not address the media consumption trends surrounding the rapidly growing “on-the-go” media usage patterns. Media consumers, in growing numbers, are embracing the notion of “media snacking”. Hundreds of millions of audio and video devices like iPhones, iPods, Zunes, PSP, Smart Phones, and Laptops are now in the marketplace empowering consumers with the ability to listen and view content when they want, where they want and how they want. When radio stations begin to see the value of delivering content across multiple platforms, we will see stations creating “centerpiece” websites that feature local social networks, archived content, RSS subscription to downloadable media, extensive use of video and user generated content. Embracing a downloadable media strategy will greatly benefit radio stations:
  • New distribution models are critical to radio’s future success
  • Address media consumption behavior changes
  • Re-purpose existing content—extend value of content with insignificant additional work
  • Enhance audience engagement—offer content that is not necessarily available on-air but extend the audience relationship
  • Recycle audience—complete the station eco system to add value to the listener experience
  • Solidify and build brand—increasing touch points with audience creates greater brand lift
  • Downloadable media is available by RSS subscription which leverages the value of serial or episodic models driving organic and viral growth
  • Radio stations have a no-cost, built in ability to grow audience consumption via on-air cross promotion
  • Incremental cost of production and distribution is relatively low

While traditional radio revenue is in some level of retraction, these platforms provide new revenue streams—locally, regionally and nationally that can ultimately replace lost revenues and provide future growth.


With the adoption of intelligent best practices in distribution and promotion, radio group operators with large numbers of stations have the ability to grow consumption to millions of downloads per month. NPR recently reported that it averages over 12 million downloads per month and growing. While some smaller markets may only deliver thousands of downloads per month, the aggregate volume generated by a large group of stations can still deliver value to national and regional advertisers through use of a robust ad serving and workflow solution. A successful strategy will require features from a media services platform that will provide the ability to successfully manage and monetize these assets:

  • Geo-Targeting down to the DMA—select content from a single market, a specific region or the entire US (sell camaigns locally, regionally or nationally taking advantage of the ability to aggregate channels)
  • Customized channels—group content by target demographic, psychographic or topicality
  • Manage ad campaigns on the fly—switch out ads that are dynamically inserted at the point of download making campaigns easy to deploy on archived or current content
  • Ad campaign management features like date limiting, ad rotation, campaign capping and post campaign analytics
  • Audience and delivery validation by accredited 3rd party services like Nielsen, Comscore, etc. 

While the adoption of digital strategies will be no panacea with the instant ability to reverse revenue losses, ultimately, consumer media consumption will continue its evolution and ad dollars will follow that behavior. Radio stations head the list of media publishers and creators of content with an unparalleled opportunity to leverage the exciting changes that technology is bringing forth.

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