Many saw the recent study from Media Audit that touted the power and reach of radio clusters' websites in various markets. As the chart below shows, a strong percentage of adults are logging onto the web sites of many companies' websites. This includes Clear Channel, of course, but also clusters owned by Entercom, Emmis, and ABC (our clients in Minneapolis).
As a recent article in FMQB pointed out, large market penetration can be powerful. In New York City, for example, Media Audit reports that while 880,000 adults listened to an Emmis station each week, 345,000 logged onto one these stations' websites in the past month. At some point, you can foresee the day when more listeners will visit a radio station's website than listen to it terrestrially. This is exactly what has happened with newspapers, where most of their sites now draw more traffic than their actual print circulation.
So, what are the implications?
First, radio must not only be streaming on its sites, but actually providing a quality stream that is clear, clean, doesn't buffer, and is reliable. The "stuff" that covers commercial clusters must be well-produced - not endless promos, boring PSA, or sound effects.
Second, imagine what these numbers could be if web content were actually more attuned to listeners' wants and desires. This might include more music information and links, better interactivity with the station and its personalities, a chance to network with other listeners, and better concert/entertainment resources. It means providing archived material on the site, from the morning show and other key contributors to the station's sound. As digital mavens are discovering, web usage and actual listening can increase the more listeners access Internet material. But when there's one Web master servicing a half dozen stations, it's hard to expect better, updated, and compelling content.
Finally, at what point is radio going to get serious about generating revenue? Of course, most radio companies are now scrambling to create web policies and practices that will do just that. The future of radio profits is not about adding more units (which of course, only makes matters worse), but beginning to shift the emphasis to digital revenue. That's what "old media" outlets - television, newspapers, cable networks, and magazines - have been doing for some time now.
Radio could take a few lessons from their brethren in the print media who waited too long, and are now paying a heavy price. To that end, we invite you to stream the fine presentation by Gordon Borrell from last September's Summit 11. In one hour, Gordon provided a rationale and a template for building web-based business opportunities. His words are worth your time.
These Media Audit numbers are impressive - but only if they can be converted to a steady revenue stream. The future is now.