Broadcasters should be harnessing the power of data and station web presence to drive new revenue and make more strategic decisions, the Ontario Association of Broadcasters’ (OAB) Connection 2023 heard.
In one of the conference’s early sessions, Programming Integrated: On-Air Goes On-Line, Amanda Cupido, founder of Lead Podcasting, called on those in the room to focus on the the amount of data stations can get from their websites and gauge what the user experience is like, how long listeners stay, what they stream and where they go next.
“A lot of these insights can tell you where you can improve upon. I don’t think we know the true value of radio station websites because we haven’t paid enough attention to the analytics even though we have that at our fingertips,” the former 640 (CFIQ-FM) Toronto Content Director, told the room. “Taking time to do that research and making intentional decisions…sometimes we’re very sales driven and making decisions that are based on a sale that has already been made or that we want to make rather than having real solid data that says this is going to maximize not only our listener and user experience, but the advertisers as well.”
Navigating beyond the impacts of Bill C-18, the Online News Act, which has seen the Facebook and Instagram pages of many media companies censored in the wake of Meta’s news ban in Canada, was touched on in more than one panel discussion.
John Ongaro, Regional Manager for Acadia Broadcasting’s stations in Thunder Bay, asked the audience to imagine the world if radio stations had paid attention to their websites before Facebook went dark for news organizations in Canada.
“That’s where all of our eggs were for so long. There are some great radio station websites…a lot of those could have been better with content and development before we relied on social media. We’d be in a very different place right now if we had done that,” said Ongaro. “We’re starting to look at different types of content…video from the studio, live feeds from the studio, to get a different kind of engagement and another reason for people to come because we were very heavy on Facebook Live for a long time and Instagram Live, and we were putting Reels up, and then they all go away and now we have a crappy website.”
Cupido urged stations to do market research to determine what your audience wants.
“Individual stations, and also depending what size market you’re in, your audience might want different things from your website,” said Cupido. “Step one is survey your audience and do true market research…start to try to tailor the experience for the audience. Whatever they want needs to be front centre, and easily clickable. If that’s a contest, I shouldn’t need to dig so deep to find the contest page…then ask after someone enters a contest, what do I want them to do on this website? Do I want them to sign up for a newsletter? Do I want them to click ‘stream’? You’re trying to keep them on this user journey and on your website as long as possible.”
How much stock should stations be putting in social media in a post-C18 world?
Dustin Titus, Chief Digital Officer at ZoomerMedia, which has acquired numerous digital properties over the last few years, including blogTO, Daily Hive and The Peak, said a lot of focus right now is being spent building the company’s TikTok channels and growing engagement through that platform, while noting that there is opportunity to get Instagram pages unblocked by offering more community, lifestyle and food content, leaving politics by the wayside.
“Snapchat…BlueSky is a platform that’s coming up, so it’s all about staying ahead, experimenting with new platforms and understanding how we can engage,” said Titus.
Justin Chase, Chief Content Officer at Beasley Media Group in the U.S., said American media have been watching the situation with Bill C-18 in Canada closely as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) pushes for a similar law stateside.
Chase said while a challenging path for legacy media companies to go down, Beasley now considers itself a multi-platform content company and its more than 60 radio stations as multi-platform content brands.
“We now have a combined cume of about 20 million across the United States,” Chase told the closing keynote on exploring new revenue streams. “But so far this year, almost 100 million new users have come to our digital platforms, so by going down this road, even though it’s challenging it’s expanded our audience in such a way that has made us so much more future-proof as we go forward.”
Zoomer Media Chief Operating Officer Omri Tintpulver said despite an initial resistance to digital within the company, it has now increased its digital revenues from $2 million three years ago to $24 million this year as the media company moves further into the space.
“It took quite a lot of effort to change the dialogue and I think once we started exploring it, that when you see the early gains, it encourages it,” said Tintpulver. “What’s hard to do and what really comes from [ZoomerMedia founder] Moses [Znaimer], all the way down, is to be open to everything. To have an agile mindset, to not be afraid to fail.”
“One of the things that really helped us at Zoomer was thinking of ourselves not as a radio station or TV station, but as an audience company, focusing on the audience rather than the platform. Once we did that, it opened up so many different doors. There are opportunities everywhere and it’s about allowing the employees to explore them, think them, pitch them, and so that’s something I definitely would encourage is building that culture. I think the ideas and the opportunities come from the culture first,” said Tintpulver.
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