Radio + Internet (should) = money
Once upon a time, nearly 80 years ago, Broadcasting Magazine started in Washington, D.C., covering the nascent business of radio. There was no television, no cable, no computers, no Internet.
Today, radio is still around – and thriving – but it’s no technological marvel. We forget that people once gathered around their living-room radios to get their news, entertainment and sports. Now radio is a technology largely relegated to the car.
That said, radio is finding a cool place for itself here in Web 2.0. Almost every radio show worth its salt also produces a podcast, which is basically an ultra-convenient form of radio-on-demand (that I totally love, by the way. Nothing’s better during a long drive than a few episodes of This American Life).
Most radio stations and programs now stream over the Internet, so people can listen to their favorite stations while they work, whether in or out-of-market. Radio and the Web can co-exist, encouraging each other’s businesses.
Over the past week or so, Houston-based The Media Audit has been churning out numbers that support this. According to the firm, every month nearly three-quarters of all adults log on to the Internet (I am logged on like 15 hours a day so I should be skewing the ratio) and nearly one in five adults visit a radio station’s Web site. And that one guy tends to come from the well-educated and upper-income demographic.
I am definitely one of those five: my local station, Clear Channel-owned KBCO-FM Boulder, Colo., does a lot to drive traffic to its Web site, and as a result of participating in surveys, etc., I have actually won free concert tickets and the like. I can attest that KBCO’s efforts to get people online pay off because I am a frequent visitor.
In general, Clear Channel seems to have this interactive thing down. The radio clusters doing the best work driving its listeners to the Web and vice versa is Clear Channel Radio in Cincinnati, Ohio, which claims a 9.1% reach in its market, or more than 140,000 unique radio Web site visitors per month.
Entercom Radio in Buffalo, N.Y., comes in second by this measure, with an 8.5% reach among adults 18-plus. Clear Channel Radio in Lexington, Ky., is third with an 8.2% reach, Clear Channel Radio in Tampa, Fla., is fourth with a 7.7% reach and Clear Channel Radio in Houston is fifth with a 7.6% reach.
That should mean online advertising is starting to provide decent second revenue streams for stations — “starting” being that sentence’s key word.
Currently, radio lays claim to just 2.2% of the local online advertising market, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau. That market is expected to climb to $7.5 billion this year, according to Borell Associates. And while local should be radio stations’ bread and butter, the national interactive ad market has climbed to $17.5 billion annually. Many radio stations have nationwide networks on which they can be capitalizing to claim some of this money as well.
So, I’m no expert, but if radio clusters are reaching 6-10% of their local markets online, don’t they also have a clear opportunity to attract a similar amount of local ad money? Looks like it’s time to get selling.