A Vietnamese airline fined after a mid-flight fashion show, a blog about funny tweets and a pet of the month contest. What do these have to do with radio? They are recent commonplace examples of home page content found on radio station websites.
In an age when most radio managers understand that a focused approach to on-air products lead to success, these examples fly-in-the-face of focus. It appears that as an industry we have yet to apply the same discipline of focus to our websites that we apply to our on-air products.
This ‘whatever gets the most page views and time spent-on-site’ strategy is motivated by our desire to progressively monetize analytics. Also a factor is the historic and unchallenged premise that station sites provide a venue where stations should supply target-appealing lifestyle content not practical for on-air use.
As logical as that sounds, the premise takes on Titanic-sized amounts of water when compared to the reasons listeners go to station sites and their opinions about the content they find there.
In other words, radio station website content is not in line with content most desired by their female listeners. Many of these female radio listeners don’t find their favorite station’s website interesting or useful. Recent studies conducted among female radio users included questions about station websites revealed that listeners want music related information foremost (title/artist information, streaming, concert/ticket info), along with contests. The data also demonstrated that while listeners like DJ photo galleries, information about appearances, recipes and non-music related blogs have limited appeal to the female listener.”
This means listeners find station websites cluttered with content that is inappropriate due to the disparity between the listeners’ perception of station brands and the content on station portals.
Like radio formats which have historically narrowed in focus as competition emerged, the world of topic-specific Internet sites has ballooned. Given the narrow focus of Internet sites, the broad-based lifestyle approach to content on station sites no longer makes brand-centric sense.
Sam Milkman, co-founder of knowDigital, a consumer research company dedicated to new media, technology and the digital space says “Listeners see station websites as repositories. They want deep information about the music and the station. Stations must find their voice in this medium rather than re-purposing content they have created for on-air – or worse, try to extend the station brand into other areas.”
Jon Coleman, CEO of Coleman Insights, a leading industry media research company, recommends that “the content on your website pass through the same filter as your on air content—the music position first, perhaps your morning show second, and contests or other tertiary images third. The same rules of what’s important apply online as on-air.”Sam Milkman, co-founder of knowDigital, a consumer research company dedicated to new media, technology and the digital space says “Listeners see station websites as repositories. They want deep information about the music and the station. Stations must find their voice in this medium rather than re-purposing content they have created for on-air – or worse, try to extend the station brand into other areas.”
For example, morning show fans are slightly more tolerant of content pertaining to the show than those who uses a station solely for its music utility. Milkman suggests that even personality orientated blogs are better served by writing about the attributes most associated with a station’s brand. “If you’re a rock station, a review of last night’s Foo Fighters show with an authentic opinion and point-of-view about the performance, in tune with the station’s view of the world is what listeners expect.”While listeners find information on most radio station websites impertinent, their usage of the website is partly determined by how listeners use a station.
Perhaps marketing expert and author Al Ries put it best in an interview with Greater Media Vice President of Program Development, Buzz Knight.To be fair, most of the content listeners want is available, though listeners often must siphon through content that is not centric to a station’s brand. “Criticisms are that listeners can’t find the content they’re looking for and that station web sites are too cluttered,” says Coleman.
Ries used Yahoo as an example of the diversified content strategy, gone bad. “Yahoo was one of the first internet brands focused on ‘search.’ …they kept expanding to a point where [now] they don’t stand for anything. If I say search, you don’t think of Yahoo, you think of Google. If I say social media you think Facebook, you don’t think of AOL, you don’t think of Yahoo,” said Ries. “These companies have momentum because they are living on the past but they have lost the power of the brand by getting into too many things. You have to constantly ask yourself ‘what does this brand stand for?’”