Mobile is essential to radio’s move to digital

Mobile Marketer, Mackenzie Allison

Text-to-win campaigns help generate ad revenue
Mobile marketing needs to be tied into radio advertising for better return on investment, tracking and customer relationship management, according to experts.

By adopting mobile, radio organizations can increase ad revenue while at the same time stay connected to their mobile-savvy listeners. Adopting mobile lets radio stations build a mobile database for future marketing, increase time listening through text-to-win contests and help advertisers better reach their goals.

"Mobile is one of the fastest growing advertising channels and is projected to continue its double-digit growth in the forthcoming years," said Steve Minisini, Marketron CEO, New York. "Today, 81 percent of radio listeners are already text messaging.

"Mobile, coupled with the local reach and audience engagement of radio, has the unique opportunity to reinvigorate traditional radio and drive significant new ad revenue," he said.

"Mobile combines the two most personal mediums, the mobile phone and radio, to provide mass engagement marketing and advertising."

Marketron is a provider of business software services for the media industry.

Take advantage of a growing market
With several radio listeners already using mobile in their daily lives, stations need to take advantage of channeling advertising, including offers and promotional messages, through mobile calls to action.

By using mobile, these messages can be highly targeted and engaging.

"Among the different digital channels available for radio, mobile has the advantage of being the highest growth, most engaging and most measurable channel," Mr. Minisini said.

"Mobile will be an absolutely essential part of leading radio organizations' strategies as mobile SMS is one of the few digital strategies that is highly scalable and has already proven to produce significant, meaningful new revenue streams," he said.

Radio stations can broadcast calls to action, asking consumers to text in to get updates on special programming, for example.

Once consumers text in, they can be opted-in to a database for special offers and giveaways. This opens the door for ongoing communication between stations and their listeners.

From the advertising perspective, the opportunities are endless. Advertisers can integrate SMS calls to action, asking consumers to text in and they too can build databases for their customers.

More than 75 billion texts are sent each month in the United States and on average 95 percent of those messages are opened and read by the recipient within 5 minutes of receiving it, according to Nielsen Mobile.

Building a mobile platform 101
In the first steps towards making the move to mobile, radio organizations should work with programming to create a mobile database for each station.

In building a stronger connection to listeners, which could result in an increase in ad revenue, programming should use mobile for text-to-win contests, dedications and requests.

This will help engage with listeners, increase time spent listening and drive new ad revenue.
Radio organizations should also use the growth of mobile to fuel traditional spot revenue.

"While traditional media may have been hit worse than most digital mediums, one thing still holds true-radio works," Mr. Minisini said.

"By merging the two most personal on-the-go mediums, radio can provide its advertisers a brand new channel to engage listeners that is interactive, accountable and has been proven to drive significant new ad revenue," he said.

Radio organizations must remember knowledge is key and the sales team should be educated on a mobile format.

"Radio account executives are not experts in mobile marketing until they are trained to be," Mr. Minisini said.

Holding on-site workshops with case studies, sample campaigns and pricing is one way to help train radio account executives on how to sell mobile.

Making it work
A major radio organization used mobile in the spring of 2010 to engage with its audience, help boost programming and drive new advertising revenue across its stations.

Mobile was key in helping the radio organization create a campaign for ten stations to offer its listeners the chance to text-to-win $50,000 in cash.

During the campaign, listeners were solicited twice a day to text a keyword to a specific short code for a chance to win a $1,000 cash prize daily.

In total, the campaign received more than 400,000 messages from listeners across its participating stations.

Every message sent was also a unique vehicle for sponsored advertising and the campaign grew the radio organization's mobile database nearly 500 percent.

Another radio organization created a mobile-driven campaign with four of its stations concentrated in a specific region and with a local advertiser, a high-end golf course that had only used print advertising in the past, to create a spot plus mobile campaign to drive tee-time sales.

The stations provided the advertiser an exclusive on-air sponsorship of their sports broadcasts covering the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

The campaign included spots with text promos for tee times and to join its mobile club to keep tabs on favorite players with text leaderboard updates for the four rounds of the four tournaments.

Since the station launched this campaign, over 60,000 text messages have been sent resulting in more than 600 unique new golfers scheduling tee times spontaneously.

This has resulted in significant new revenue and top-of-mind awareness for the golf course.

"Our audience indexes very high in mobile, so it's a space we are eager to be in," said Dan Shelley, general manager of digital for Radio One, New York. "And it's paying off in huge ways, in terms of user engagement, forging meaningful relationships with listeners and clients, and, incidentally, in terms of enhanced revenue.

"If you're not in mobile, you're dead," he said. "It's where your audience is so why wouldn't you want to be there?

"Any effective radio company's digital strategy includes not just streaming apps, but SMS solutions, WAP sites and more. They not only enhance your connection with your listeners, but offer valuable, effective marketing solutions for your advertisers."

Mr. Shelley suggests radio organizations move quickly but judiciously into the mobile space.

"Do the due diligence on potential partners, i.e. SMS, app vendors, etc., and pick the one that offers the best solutions for your company," Mr. Shelley said.

Content is also king and radio organizations should make sure that the mobile experience is not only reflective of a station's formats and personalities but also additive.

"In other words, just like your Web site, what you offer on your mobile platforms has to take your stations' content to a new level," Mr. Shelley said. "It has to provide something that enhances the connection with your audience and gives them more than they can get by just listening."