With digital cementing its place as an integral component of a radio company’s operations, broadcasters are strategizing on how to grow digital business. Inside Radio polled top industry executives on their digital priorities and the ways they see digital as a game changer for the industry.

Gordon Borrell, CEO, Borrell Associates: “The upside is in the social media space. Every advertiser now is talking about social; 77% of radio advertisers we surveyed said they are buying social media ads—not just have a page—and the satisfaction rates are huge. And 90% are satisfied with Facebook ads. It is cheap, it is targeted and it works, and it is measurable….The smartest radio sales reps see it as huge opportunity to say, ‘Your social is great, we’ve done some cool things too. We drive fans and likes. So let’s talk about a campaign. What kind of traffic would you like to generate? What kind of contest would you like?’ Then they can do a campaign that drives social media interaction and also drives it with some radio advertising.”

Jim Bryant, president, Hubbard Broadcasting’s 2060 Digital: “Offering digital marketing solutions within our respective portfolios strengthens our ability to attract, hire and retain the best and brightest talent. I also believe it allows us to offer a more comprehensive spectrum of solutions to our clients which greatly increases our value to them. Lastly, it broadens the base of a radio station’s prospective client list; we are no longer restricted by demographics or geography. We can now speak to all businesses, everywhere, and present viable solutions.”

James Derby, chief strategy officer, Federated Media: “I think voice is a tremendous opportunity for our industry. It is an opportunity for radio to get back into the home. These devices [such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Home] have a speaker and you can talk to them. Assuming we’ve done our job right as broadcasters, we should have strong brands and talent people feel comfortable about. Right now, the opportunity at home is on desktop, tablets or phones, and people are typically doing a lot more on those devices. Now, with the voice speakers, it is sitting on a counter; they walk in and ask for “B100,” it goes there with ease and they can interact and do more….Hopefully the industry spends the time and energy to take full advantage of what appears to have fallen into our laps.”

Mark Fratrik, chief economist, BIA/Kelsey: “Radio stations can be a one-stop place for local business. They can provide digital services that help clients navigate the digital landscape. It broadens the types of services that radio has traditionally sold. Mobile is another important avenue and where more people are going. We no longer call them phones. It is a device. Whether it is a smartphone or tablet, radio can be very prominent on that device.”

Bill Freund, executive VP and chief revenue officer, Clip Interactive: “We’ve been trying to create rich, robust user experiences and that has to continue. The connected car is another major initiative. It is a big focus of automakers and, at CES, all everyone was talking about was connectivity and listening through mobile in the car. AM/FM is still the leader in listening in the car, but I think a big focus is how does the AM/FM experience become interactive and connected in the car? Radio has to embrace the opportunity in the vehicle to be connected to the dash and have greater visual interactivity, whether hands-free [or not], and the ability to access all stations through devices, vs. just the ones on the dash. Ultimately, that means there will be opportunities to capture data and for monetization as well.”

Warren Lada, chief operating officer, Saga Communications: “Digital is part of what we do. Our approach is digital is integrated into the day-to-day of what we do. We recognize it as an opportunity to touch our audience in different ways and to offer different opportunities to advertisers. We leave it up to the local markets to ascertain what might work and then we support it any way we can. If we want to use digital to touch our audience, either [through a] texting campaign or on a website or photo galleries, we do all of that.”

Ed Levine, president/CEO, Galaxy Communications: “The reality is, to take digital to the next step, you have to focus on mobile. If you’re not mobile, you don’t exist anymore. We’ve been very aggressive on the mobile side. We repurpose a lot of content so people can watch at their leisure. What is exciting is we have exclusive content strictly for digital. Those are things that advertisers and listeners are migrating to. If you’re not on the mobile phone, you’ll be out of business in five years.”

Heather Monahan, chief revenue officer, Beasley Media Group: “[Digital can be a game changer] by extending our reach beyond broadcast and becoming available on every mobile device; by leveraging social media platforms to further our relationships between our talent and our listeners; and by creating video content for our listeners so we can reach them through video and audio, and deepen our relationship.”

Chris Williams, chief product officer, iHeartRadio: “iHeartRadio is a way to extend the relationship that radio has with our audience. It reinforces the habit of listening to radio and deepening people’s relationship with the radio. So what you wind up doing is you almost recreate the dial and allow people to only need a single app in order to get all of the stations they want to have. Having one unified app is a huge convenience consideration. iHeartRadio isn’t just a website or just on iOS or Android. We are across some 90 platforms now. We’re integrated with Xbox and PlayStation and into televisions and Sonos. We’re integrated in-dash with Ford and GM.”

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