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Selling Radio in an integrated digital world

Posted by radio On January - 29 - 2013

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]

Media across the board finds itself at a juncture of going digital or remaining a dinosaur which effectively equates to irrelevance if the latter is chosen. Radio specifically has had to skip a few hoops in an attempt to jump the digital divide due to high costs of operation, the slow growth of sales and the pesky incursions of digital ‘pureplays’ like Pandora and Spotify. Radio as a medium that fundamentally evokes feeling, has to display advertising that entertains and is skillfully embedded into a station’s overall programming.


Specialist marketers for radio are coming up with innovations that supersede the traditional 30 second ad duration. This paradigm shift has with it the trend to go beyond the generic formula via features such as interviews, drama series, sponsorships, outside broadcasts and more towards interesting programme integration and listener relevance. This is demonstrated by FNB’s “Steve Campaign”, which goes for quality rather than media length and gave a generally conservative sector an edge.


 The surge of integration has radio stations acquiring the services of digital specialists that are required to boost online presence, interactions and the overall bottom line. CEO of Radio Advertising Bureau International, Erica Farber says, “radio stations have been very resilient to be able to sell the intricacies of their own individual format” and “in the digital world, that helps the medium”. This is demonstrative of the gospel currently preached by the higher echelons of the importance of a convergent outlook. These developments also see an increasing necessity of data analytics where audience behaviour is concerned.


The spectrum of selling innovative content in the digital radio sphere also spans as far as niche platforms. Pan African Space Station, which is free form radio curated by Chimurenga’s editor Ntone Edjabe and Neo Muyanga is an epitome of this. PASS’ unique pay off There are other worlds out there they never told you about, is in line with the station’s counter cultural view point in streaming live music from the continent and around the globe. The station based in Cape Town, uses an integrative approach of purveying material with the Chimurenga publication as a backdrop and driver. As a publication chimurenga has had contributions from writers in fields such as architecture, anthropology, film and activism to name a few. The publication recently embarked on a campaign of an experimental newspaper called The Chronic which looked back at the Xenophobic attacks of May 2008. This publication-free form radio mix is exemplary of the traction of multi-forum selling.


Joburg based ghost writer and brand consultant figures that, “internet streaming is yet to be properly explored locally” and “there remains a niche audience of creative office workers (the headphones brigade who work in ad agencies and other offices) who have 24/7 access”. This is an “area marketers should keep a close eye on,” he says. Miller adds, “The mix of traditional broadcast, phone-ins and emails, and now social media is making stations to re-look their content”. In expansion to this, the ghost writer says “stations should bear in mind that we’re moving past the era of radio as only just an audio theatre” and “if the station places itself at the centre of a community; they should treat the social media as a central philosophical pillar”.


 The role of a radio host within the context of integration is also in scrutiny. Miller sentiments are that, “the host is closer to listeners than a few years back thanks to social media”. He raises that “the personalities who are happy mixing with listeners in the real world, online and via the show will inevitably have a lot of influence”. This influence debunks the old adage of ‘a face for radio’ which has proven not be as relevant as it has been in the past. Today one’s physical face and one’s social face really do matter.

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