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Media Intelligence : 2009 - 2010
radio Bob Reinvestment makes for a compelling product What factors is this due to? Longwell CEO, ARN My view is that radio has been very healthy – our competitors are good and the content is excellent. The medium is growing with the population. The US has let it go a bit – they haven’t put as much into their products as we have and now it’s showing. It’s like any business: you have to re-invest in your products. What has ARN been doing in terms of digital radio initiatives? We have a station in western Sydney called The Edge which has 300,000 listeners and is so popular we’re going to do a similar format nationally (Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide) which we debuted on June 30. That’s our fi rst offering. We’re developing another unique format but it’s still under wraps. What has been the impact of the economic downturn? Fortunately our direct clients are getting results and they’re renewing but it’s for shorter periods more often. You don’t get any 52-week orders anymore. We’re relatively fi ne and compared to the UK or the US, we’re in a lot better shape. Is integration across platforms a priority? We’re in the process of totally revamping our website this month which will give more functionality. We’ve appointed a digital team, headed by a “digital evangelist” – that’s the term we came up with because we believe there’s a whole lot of opportunity: the cross media of both online and radio is one of the most natural. We can say to listeners, ‘Go to our website and see what just happened in the studio or a concert’. The solutions team we’ve created will work with the clients and programming to integrate that effort. What are the challenges facing radio? It’s about being relevant and compelling because consumers have more choices. We’ve been able to survive and grow through our fathers’ era when TV came in, then the Internet and iPods. Radio is the most personal of all mediums: a one-to-one medium, instead of a one to many – so we have to engage people on that basis. It’s one of the few mediums that gives its product away free to listeners so we have to work very hard. What we are doing now involves bigger initiatives that are more engaging. Our “Thank You Project” with Kleenex last year was a big success. It was a natural tie-in for Kleenex and it wasn’t overdone and wasn’t too commercial. It’s different than the old “be the 10th caller and you win $1000” – that’s how creative we were. Now it’s unique and compelling content. What developments do you foresee in the coming year? Innovation growth, online products, the format – constant renewal of on-air products. Except for our digital formats, which will be new, it’s just moving with the audience and staying relevant. I have a saying here – “It’s about them, not about us” meaning it’s about everyone who’s not in the building because all they (the audience) care about is what comes over the speakers. That’s the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity. Digital to demonstrate new formats and visuals Jeremy Macvean Head of Digital Strategy, Austereo What has Austereo been doing in terms of digital radio initiatives? Last December we launched Australia’s fi rst commercial digital radio station, Radar Radio. Radar is a great demonstration of the exciting new formats that are possible on digital radio and the fl exibility for us to create unique content to meet the desires of our audiences and our clients. Radar Radio is a unique format for Australian commercial radio, being dedicated to undiscovered artists and their music. Radar also demonstrates a new level of interactivity, with artists being able to upload songs onto the Radar website and listeners providing immediate feedback, which is then used to schedule music on the station. In May we launched Pink Radio, another digital radio innovation. This station is cross- promoted from our Today Network and is available on digital radio, from the Today Network websites and also as a link from the Optus website. Optus is the key sponsor of Pink’s Funhouse tour of Australia and has joined us on this digital radio initiative. The station is only available for three months, demonstrating the fl exibility that the new technology provides. We are also providing local simulcasts of our FM stations in each market on digital radio. A key change for digital is we’re now providing visual information along with the broadcasts – such as artist name and song title – which is another benefi t to consumers. What sort of impact has the economic downturn had on your clients’ demands? Radio is a very cost-effective way for clients to get a message to market with large reach, good frequency and great speed-to-market. So as a medium, radio stands up very well in tough times. We’ve seen lead times for bookings reduce a lot over the last few months as clients hold back to the last minute before making any commitments. How is Austereo integrating across platforms? Our approach is totally integrated. This is what works from a consumer point of view, because they don’t care what channel they consume the content on. And it also works for our clients in regard to the integrated campaign solutions that we’re set up to provide. At Austereo, gone are the days of ‘Radio Programmers’ – they’re now ‘Content Directors’ and oversee every channel that the content is on, including analogue radio, digital radio, web, mobile and podcasts. Our sales team is integrated in the same way, so everyone in the business can provide an integrated solution using whatever channels best meet the needs of the client. What are the challenges facing radio over the coming year? With technology evolving at an unprecedented rate, the greatest challenge for Austereo is to take advantage of that change to maximise the ubiquity of our content. Digital radio is an immediate example of this, where we’ll be using this new platform to create content to increase the total number of hours that people spend with Austereo’s brands. Austereo has gone digital with 1.2 million unique browsers visiting our websites a month and we have our popular podcasts; the strength in these areas will only help the cross-promotion of new digital radio content. MEDIA Trends + Strategy 64 p60-61,63_radio.indd 63 p60-61,63_radio.indd 63 3/7/09 12:07:47 PM 3/7/09 12:07:47 PM
MT Resource 2010