A Local Radio Conversation

Last week I was talking to the sales manager of an Ottawa radio station about developing an online ad strategy and improving their online experience for listeners. It was an interesting discussion with someone I learned was the devils advocate.

First – and lets be frank – the stations current web site is horrible. Something the station (or at least the manager) freely admits. It’s not even at the level of the atrocious bunch that Mel Taylor links to in his post on bad radio sites.

I agree the stations demographic, 45+ isn’t the easiest target for web strategy, and Ottawa is a pretty conservative town. Still there are solutions that don’t cost a lot and can increase the stations connection with both advertisers and listeners.

First though you’ve got to have some targets for your stations web site – otherwise why even pay the hosting fee. Then you’re got to develop plans to reach those goals and choose metrics that reflect progress and monitor them – regularly.

For this station I suggested choosing one of the following for the ad side:

 increased revenue/client
 increased wins in competitive bids
 more requests for information from new advertisers

On the listener side you’ve got to build page views before you can hope for any dialogue or user generated content. Given the demographic of the audience and Ottawa as a tourist destination I’d focus on episodic events and festivals around which to build web presence and connection.

The advantage is that from a development perspective an episodic approach is easier to manage initially than the continuous release methodology used by seasoned web properties. The other reason is episodic events tie nicely to the site goals. They are major advertising events for merchants so the station benefits from this increased spending with a new property targeted to the event. On the listener side they tend to be time of high socialization providing numerous opportunities for information transfer, contest tie-ins and user comment. The key is to ensure that this web material becomes part of the on-air dialogue both to promote the site and to transfer the personal link between announcer and audience to the web.

The final advantage of this approach is that it builds evergreen material that can be used year after year – freeing the development team to concentrate on the inter-episodic period the following year – as the web property moves to a continues release model.

Of course the devils in the details. And to understand that stations need to become familiar with the trends and approaches that all media are using to integrate the web into their core property and the issues associated with them  – and that will be the subject of a upcoming posts.

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