Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from Radio Summit Europe.
The conference website looks like it is from the late 90s, a strong contrast to the futuristic topics the conference promised to cover.
However, from the moment the conference started, it was surprisingly good. The opening “State of the industry” session by Kurt Hanson wasn’t anything new, nothing I haven’t already known before, but it gave a great outline of the rest of the day!
In summary, at the moment there are six technology trends that are changing people’s behavior. Smartphones are already “old news” and today almost everyone besides young kids and some seniors, don’t own one.
Bluetooth headphones are the new standard. And they are getting better and better. Whoever goes wireless never comes back.
Wearables like smartwatches are getting better and better. By now they are finally able to fulfil the promises those devices already promised from their first generation – being always connected without any need of a phone nearby, apps that make sense on the small screen and AI voice assistants that make our lives easier.
Cheap data is what makes all of it possible
Smart speakers and connected cars are the two last trends. Echo has been the best selling Christmas gift on Amazon for the previous two years and when it comes to voice assistants, Google, Apple and Microsoft are all joining the competition.
All this means that the number of “just” radio devices is going down in the average households, but the number of devices that are capable of playing radio (and audio content) is growing.
It also means when it comes to choosing and consuming content, our listeners want quality, convenience, variety, and control.
The implications for our industry are enormous. First, it brings lots of new competition to this market. But, at the same time, it enables us to grow, both in potential reach and in the monetization of our content.
The digital distribution of our content enables us programmatic selling of audio. Just like Google or Facebook are selling ads for a particular audience, this is already possible for radio. With this, our ad inventory is also growing.
Instead of having one ad served to all of your audience, you will have different ads for different people. It opens doors not just for more revenue streams, but also for creating creatively different ads for each audience group.
Many people don’t understand podcasts. But it is the fastest growing format. It is not radio, and definitely, it is not your on-air show. Just put your content online to enable the listener to listen to it later.
For radio brands, this formats can help them to explore niches that are not covered by their primary program but might align with it.
At the moment there are no standards for usage of data, and that is what advertisers want. But the demand is there. Right now they are actually buying impact of podcasting.
Those are the three C’s you should have in mind when it comes to the digital audio- and future of radio.
You can try to stay behind, and milk the old cash cow until it dies, or you can think ahead. In the radio industry, we know curation better than most people. We shouldn’t be afraid of Spotify and other streaming services. After all, Spotify is just a new version of the old record store.
But we also shouldn’t be stuck in the past.
So, for the future, don’t look at where Spotify is now, see where it is heading. Don’t focus on what your audience is doing right now, but what they could be doing in future.
If somebody told you 15 years ago that we would all be walking around with small supercomputers, always connected to the Internet, many would have asked “who would want that?”.
Now, I’m saying that in less than five years we all will be talking to the devices around us. The question is, will your content be available there, and will you be known for it?