Three things you missed
if you missed this years´
Radio Days Europe!
The biggest radio conference in a beautiful but expensive city. What could go wrong?
After last year in Vienna, I didn’t go to this RadioDays with too many expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised. Everything was at least a level higher than the last year. Venue, coffee and food were just perfect.
But, those things, while nice are not really as important as what you can learn there and who you can meet.
I was elated by the number of people I met. Honestly, I expected much fewer people than last year with Switzerland being so expensive and Lausanne being so hard to reach. I was wrong.
On the content side, three things stuck to my mind. Radio as an industry is doing great; the ways we understand our audience is expanding due to the digital consumption and smart speakers are something you should not ignore.
1) The radio business is booming!
Overall positive message from many sessions was that the radio industry is doing good. The audience didn’t leave us for the digital offerings and revenues all across Europe are an all-time high.
Yes, there is the usual – smaller time spent listening and threat on the younger segment, but given the fact that now you have so many entertainment and information options – this is a new reality.
All around Europe (and the world) the Radio business is moving to the Audio business which can be so much better. Digital is good for radio. It is not an enemy, but an opportunity.
To prosper in the future your pantry should not be like „build it, and they will come,“ but rather „build it and take it to them (the listeners) – whenever they want it, wherever they are and whatever they are doing.“
We as radio broadcaster know the content and we are much more than just a „playlist.“ We inform, entertain and are there for the companionship.
With new broadcast options, we can be both linear and on demand. We can be a community for shared listening and also one on one niche channel.
The tools for monetization (like programmatic audio) are being built and are getting accepted by the agencies and big clients.
2) Knowing the listeners is the key and
digital helps us with this!
BBC introduced lessons they had from their new BBC Sounds App. The one thing that made a huge impact for me was that they are finally starting to use the „Sign In“ for a better understanding of the listeners.
With only three important characteristics – age, postcode and gender – they are building a better recommendation system for their content — the same way Netflix does it.
One key insight was that a young audience doesn’t care about the genres as much as we think. While the parents listened to the genre or decade-specific music, youngsters prefer the mood-based playlist/music.
The more people use their (and hopefully your future platform), the more you can analyze what they actually DO and adapt your program according to the learnings.
And with more and more of the radio content consumption coming from digital channels, the easier it will be to get that data. Tools like Streamalyzer can make a big change in building your competitive advantage.
3) Ignore Smart speakers
at your own peril
Smart speakers are the fastest growing „gadget category“ ever. The more people interact with them, the more they expect you to be available there. If you are not, Spotify will be. Or your traditional radio competition.
Big publishers like Guardian have research labs that create experimental content. Yes, the newspapers want to be audio broadcasters. And some are already pretty successful.
Research has shown people want just consumption of content with minimal interaction („Alexa play Up First“ to start a 15 min NPR news show) or they want immersive interactive experience (quizzes, interactive radio dramas, city guides that give content as you move through the city).
This doesn’t mean we should ignore our main business – it just means that we have to do both!
Better than Vienna, but…
While those three above mentions things stuck in my mind, there were lots of more „traditional sessions“ about personalities, promotion, sales and sound design.
Last years´ session about Top 10 promotions for example was really inspiring, however this years´ show was lacking in such sources of inspiration.
For some sessions, you have a feeling like they are just repeating year by year. Also an excess of BBC sessions made one feel a bit like being at Radio Days UK.
So for Lisbon next year there is indeed some upside potential…