Streaming listenership continues to shift towards the mobile platform, and radio groups try to maneuver their ad space to follow. With smart phones taking over the hands of radio listeners, broadcasters are seeing a corresponding shift in listening to their station streams from desktops to mobile devices. Clear Channel says 61% of listening to iHeartRadio now occurs on mobile devices. More than half of the younger skewing Emmis stations are now concentrated on mobile usage and 80% on rhythmic CHR “Hot 97” WQHT alone. The percentage of listening to Spanish Broadcasting System station streams has grown from 46% in February to 58% in May.
While audiences are shifting, the radio industry faces several obstacles to race ahead of this trend.
1) Measurement is a chief concern. Broadcasters say it’s difficult to translate mobile audiences into rating points that are easy for agencies to buy.
2) Technology is another roadblock. While it’s technically possible to synch a mobile banner ad with an audio spot, making it a seamless experience is another matter.
3) Sales training is a third issue. Keeping sales reps up to date on changes, upgrades, and how stations groups sell ads is a challenge. Some station groups like CBS keep available digital ad space avails per market, where others like iHeart combine all stations into one mass entity. Many station groups put the task of selling digital advertising on ‘traditional spot’ sales reps, instead of employing specialty digital departments.
As broadcasters optimize sites for mobile, traffic grows. The shift to mobile isn’t only affecting how consumers listen to radio streams, it’s also having an impact on how they access station websites. Broadcasters report significant growth in traffic coming into their sites via mobile devices. One year ago, Emmis optimized all of its station websites for viewing on mobile devices. Mobile traffic is growing 30% per month, the company says, with 30% of website traffic now coming in from mobile devices. CBS Radio, Spanish Broadcasting System and others have either optimized their sites for the mobile web or are planning to do so. As station sites become easier to view on mobile devices, broadcasters expect their mobile web traffic to grow. Greater Media plans to optimize all of its sites this summer.
The Radio Agency continues to monitor pureplay acquisitions and how individual station groups are acclimating to an ever changing listener base. Moving along with mobile proves challenging, and we need to keep in mind authentic back end results through this evolution. It’s not just about placement, it is also just as important to make sure delivered impressions come to fruition and invoice reconciliation is smooth. It is our job to find solid partners in this space to supply our clients with positive growth. Please feel free to reach out to TRA if you would like to go mobile!