The Evolving Audience: From Listeners to Users

During an industry webinar last week, Gordon Borrell benchmarked radio’s digital ad efforts and outlined the opportunity that exists to grow online revenue. In fact, radio currently earns less than 2% of the $16 billion spent online.

In addition, we know from our ongoing PPM research that even a station’s best listeners, spend more than 90% of their lives, not listening to the radio. Yet, with the opportunity that exists online, even when they are not listening, they still have tremendous value.

As stations increasingly grow their digital audience and monetize their other platforms with offerings such as daily deals, mobile apps, social media posts, online video content, the question arises, does the term “listener” still apply?

Especially when that person is reading a blog by a station personality, following a Tweet, voting in a poll on the station home page, making a comment about the station on Facebook, or checking out the weather or traffic online.

This is not just an academic exercise, it relates to the way we think about and engage our audience. Just a few years ago, stations would speak and audiences would listen. In exchange for listening to the content, they would also listen to ads and buy those products.

Today, that one way model is under increasing stress. More than ever before, it’s about cultivating a community and fostering relationships.

This evolution isn’t just happening with radio. Aaron Shapiro has written a book, Users, Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business and as Martin Bihl writes in Ad Age, “Focusing on users leapfrogs past the transactional stage to what the person needs. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of every brand — to have people who think of your product as the best tool for meeting their need?”

In radio, listening is the transaction that historically was necessary in order for the audience to get what they wanted. Today, the audience can interact with your brand online and have their needs met without ever tuning in. It’s creating and monetizing these multi-platform, off-air experiences that will allow radio to get a bigger slice of the digital pie.

Specifically, Shapiro discusses the need to structure your business to meet user needs and to attract and engage users by making your products more valuable. Broadcast groups are making digital content a priority and seeking to ensure mobile users can engage with their content across platforms.

A Built-In Advantage

With the on-air signal and strong relationship that stations have with the audience as well as advertisers, when it comes to digital opportunities, stations have a strong foundation to leverage. However, in order to fully engage users and maintain their loyalty, it’s important to have a marketing strategy that connects with your audience so that they choose you first and most, whether it’s on-air or online.

Looking across multiple platforms, this transformation from listeners to users becomes easier to see. However, providing value to the audience is still the key.

For more information on how you can engage and connect with your users as they interact with your brand across platforms, contact Andrew Curran to learn more about DMR360.


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