January 7, 2008

Don't panic

2007 was another year of growth in NZ radio.

Ultimately nothing new on the format front aside from the DAB trial turning on an analog signal (playing country hits), more so the interesting thing was the growth of radio's online property.

The ability to connect better with not only the radio station, interactivity between users was a big focus point. The new Edge website clearly shows this in action and so far is the best display of not only understanding web2.0, it's also aligned with it's audience's habits, whom for the last 2 years have been playing around on Myspace and Bebo. This keeps The Edge relevant (rather than being on 'the edge').

Oldies are the next age group that need the same outlets. They are huge users of old friends and singles online dating websites. Trademe is firmly bookmarked with every kiwi computer user, and adult radio would benefit greatly from having a talking, online community at their website.

Another thought I had, was all the technologies of the late 90s like ICQ that never really took off, which is largely due to the fact that nearly all New Zealanders were on dial up internet, and the idea of streaming something like video through ICQ, was ludicrous.

My my, how things have changed for the better. Today we 'YouTube' ourselves, and we are starting to watch and talk with each other via video on our phones. ICQ now has a whole farm of competitors now such as Messenger, Google Talk, and the big monster - Skype. Eventually watching YouTube video on our telly at home becomes a realistic proposition. Youtube launched a NZ portal in 2007 - not before TVNZ and TV3 launched on-demand video as well.

The same can be said for Radio content.

As for "broadcasting" your product/brand via FM or AM, in the 90s, a handful of radio stations like More FM and 95bFM looked beyond radio transmission to get their product out. They began streaming their program in low quality on the web. This was the start of pushing radio out beyond the traditional means.

Today, radio podcasts it's content as an on-demand service. Timetables are becoming less relevant. Even Rick Dees can be streamed, whereas in the past we had to wait until Sunday. Waiting for a top of hour news bulletin might be next for a review.

Revenue is also finally splitting off from traditional advertising time in AM/FM radio broadcasts. We are now using advertising in online streams, website banners, phone-text services, RDS, newsletters, podcasts, music referral downloading. Some companies are tapping these platforms that radio has, as a catalyst to generate advertising revenue. These spinoff services are simply 'plugged in'. Simple stuff like voucher schemes and cancellations are making cash for Mediaworks - completely outside of their radio products.

So - what didn't work online in the late 90s is worth revisiting now.

It's an interesting image huh?. While there is always music, how we've been consuming it is always evolving. Radio will survive technological change too, because radio - like the music it plays (and the industry that develops it), is evolving. Simply put, Radio is going though a technological revolution.

In fact, radio in NZ and Oz will finally begin to catch up with the UK and the US - by introducing a new digital platform from which users (not 'listeners') can better interact with radio stations.

Watch this video to see how the UK have nurtured Radio into an impressive modern toy:

Petrified, or excited?

Coldplay - Don't Panic

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