Bridge Ratings: Is Radio Ready for a Digital Future?
June 30, 2010 at 4:24 AM (PT)
In a new study, BRIDGE RATINGS writes, "The word has been out for some time now; the warning to all entertainment and media companies is 'adapt to the consumers' preference for online and mobile platforms or be forgotten.' Terrestrial radio has been exposed to the potential of increasing audience and advertising revenue through digital platform transition, but this new study by BRIDGE RATINGS pinpoints just how unprepared they are."
BRIDGE RATINGS focused in on the impact that social media marketing can have on any business. Terrestrial radio was included in this study. Results of a very specific four-week marketing process called "The Social Marketing Hierarchy" showed that over time and with repeated and proper messaging terrestrial radio's tune-in occasions were positively impacted.
In the old days, the speed of change was manageable in an environment where the ability to act was sometimes detained due to operational limitations. In 2010 the luxury of waiting to act is more of a detriment.
BRIDGE RATINGS spoke with 242 general managers and/or market managers in the top 150 radio markets to better understand what's preventing them from being more proactive when it comes to digitally transitioning their businesses.
When asked "What is preventing your station(s) from having all the digital resources they need to build audience and increasing billing?", the two greatest concerns are Budget (92% of GM's responding) and Know-how (91%) or having the properly trained and managed personnel dedicated to their digital efforts.
While staffing a digital department ranks as the third obstacle to effectively moving forward more quickly, it is clear by these interviews that traditional radio's executives find themselves between a rock and a hard place; the desire to move faster is there yet the resources are not.
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
A simultaneous national BRIDGE RATINGS study conducted among 2612 persons ages 12 and older underscores the urgency related to terrestrial radio's rapid adoption of all things digital.
BRIDGE found two findings quite clear:
* For the immediate future terrestrial radio should maintain it's weekly listenership penetration and
* Internet radio and social networking show the greatest growth.
BRIDGE concludes however strong weekly tune-in to traditional radio stations (AM/FM) is, time-spent-listening is the continuing concern for the immediate future as more consumers of radio find alternate entertainment sources.
What Is The Potential Impact On Terrestrial Radio?
BRIDGE found less than 10% had recently come in contact with a social network communication sourced from a radio station. Of those who had communicated with a terrestrial station through a social network, the power to move them to action was quite clear.
* 44% were motivated to visit the station's web site and 38% indicated they listened to the station in question by virtue of some social network contact whether through TWITTER, FACEBOOK or any one of hundreds of social network entities.
* All indications suggest that social media marketing is and will play a major role in the future business success of traditional radio where it is very feasible for radio's analog universe to interface with powerful digital tools.
The mobile future presents yet another opportunity for traditional radio as part of being prepared.
91% or 285 million Americans own cell phones. Activity on cell phones is no longer limited to a simple phone call for most users. The cell phone has become a hand-held computer and consumption projections provide insight into not only which activities are growing but which offer the best opportunity to marketers.
In this latest BRIDGE RATINGS study, 2311 panelists were asked about their current and potential use of cell phone activities. This chart expresses these interests as the percentage of panelists who expect to use the activities more in the next 6 months based on their current usage.
Social networking (29%), Text messaging (25%) and Tweeting (22%) are mentioned most often with Internet radio streaming in a close fourth position. All of which provide outstanding business growth opportunities for terrestrial-based radio businesses.
What Should Radio Do?
BRIDGE writes, "Terrestrial radio management in general seem to be getting the message that leveraging the Internet's tools to further its business is a critical component of future growth and success. Intellectually it is clear. The ability to empower the radio business as a whole is stifled by recent economic developments and corporate rationale concerning reinvesting a greater portion of profit margins.
Entertainment and media companies that figure out how to apply the digital tools to their business models will escape marginalization. In the old days, the speed of change was manageable in an environment where the ability to act was sometimes detained due to operational limitations.
In 2010 the luxury of waiting to act is more of a detriment."
[Is your station a part of the digital world? Are you actively using social networking? If not, why not? What are you doing -- specifically -- to be a part of this change? Please comment below.]