Ever since radio stations began streaming on the internet, we’ve all struggled to strike the correct balance between being hyperlocal while also being global. Trying to figure out how often to mention out of market online listeners, whether to include them in on-air contesting, how we can monetize the out of market streaming sessions and how we can keep them interested in our on-air content without losing the locals. For the most part there are no easy answers to these tough questions, hence why people have used a myriad of different approaches. But, let me try by addressing each one separately.
1) How often should we mention out of market online listeners? That’s actually a pretty simple one to answer. How much we mention them should be in direct proportion to how large a percentage of our online audience they account for. For most stations the vast majority of their online listening is happening within, or right next to, their main coverage area. Usually, it’s 90% or more but obviously that’s easy for anyone to check because all of that should be tracked and available in a report from the streaming provider. However, because it sounds cool and big-time to mention someone listening from a far-away place, talent tend to give those listeners an outsized amount of attention. If it is in fact only 10% or less of our audience then we should mention them sparingly. But, stations with unique brands that have a broader regional and global appeal should adjust accordingly based on their stats.
2) Should we include out of market online listeners in our on-air contesting? Yes and no. If we’re doing a major on-air contest with online and/or on-air entries but no on-site giveaway party, then definitely include them. If we’re adding the element of an on-site giveaway party we either limit entries to our coverage area or allow everyone to enter with the stipulation that they ‘Must be present to win’ so we still get the exciting in person winner freak out. For smaller daily contests it’s a good idea to do as many of those as possible as prizes that can be emailed or affordably mailed anyway so those should all be open to out of market listeners. That’s because we shouldn’t be asking even local listeners to drive up to the station to pick up a low-value prize where it will potentially cost them more in gas money that the prize is actually worth. However, if it’s a higher value prize that warrants a trip to the station, we should restrict that to local and use that as an opportunity to capture content, pics and video for the web and audio for on air. It’s also a good idea to do the occasional online only contests utilizing ad insertion or pre-rolls, but also plugging it on terrestrial to give on-air listeners another reason to stream when they’re away from a radio.
3) How can we monetize those ‘global’ listeners? Not easily. That’s why some broadcasters have chosen to geofence their signals or not stream at all, both of which are a mistake in my opinion, but I understand the rationale. Lumping out of market listeners into the broader stats isn’t going to be noticed by some ad buyers since it’s a small percentage anyway, but it is disingenuous. However, anyone that also sells their products directly online can benefit from all that traffic, regardless of where it’s coming from, and would be willing to pay if it’s competitively priced to other digital advertising from a cpm stand-point. There also might be a tourism angle to put together a digital only contest where out of market listeners can win a trip to the market or in market listeners can win a trip for a friend from out of market.
4) How do we keep them interested in our on-air content? This one’s easy. Being local does not mean ONLY talking about local things happening in the community, interviewing local officials and name-dropping local landmarks. All of those things are fine if they’re done in an entertaining way and in bite-sized chunks terrestrially. All interviews should be prerecorded as audio/video anyway so the best part of the audio can be used on-air driving traffic to the full video interview on the web. Live interviews will ALWAYS go long and harm the station while minimizing the benefit to the interviewee because people have tuned out. What being local really means is talking about the things your listeners are talking about and interested in. A LOT of that will be regional and national stories that will naturally appeal to the broader online audience and hopefully our on-air talent will localize and personalize them a bit so our main concern, the local listeners, will find them relatable and interesting.
What do you think? How have you struck that balance of being hyperlocal and global at the same time? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.
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