Radio’s great hope: Content marketing
It's what radio has always done well. Now is the time to harness digital.
February 1, 2016
By Court Stroud
This is one in a number of stories on radio in Media Life’s ongoing series “The new face of radio in America,” examining all the changes taking place in the medium. Click here for earlier stories.
Local media is going to see a huge surge in revenue this year, $19 billion, or 16 percent over 2015.
Radio will not.
Almost all of that spending surge will go to digital media, such as social. Radio’s share of local ad dollars will actually shrink by 1 percent.
Clearly radio, like other traditional media, has problems.
But unlike those other media, radio has a solution right at hand, though it’s not much talked about in the rancorous squabble traditional radio wages against all things digital.
It is something radio already does very well, better than any other traditional medium, though under different names: content marketing.
Content marketing is traditional radio’s path into the digital age. The essence of content marketing — good storytelling and engagement — is what makes radio radio.
It’s the give-away contest, sponsored by an advertiser. It’s the DJ touting Joe’s Barbershop in his afternoon broadcast. It’s the news brought to you by Bill Smick’s Ford, (“the friendliest car salesmen in town”) and the weather sponsored by the Billups Reliable Roof Repair and Gutter Service.
The radio station teams up with the advertiser to provide content around what that advertiser sells. It’s total localness–local personalities and local businesses in local storytelling listeners can relate to.
Radio executives talk about embracing digital and social, but it’s mostly talk. What radio has failed to do is integrate digital into its content marketing strategies.
But it’s a natural fit–and it holds great promise for boosting revenues, tapping into the billions of dollars local businesses are investing in digital.
The timing is ideal; 2016 is the year digital ad spending surpasses the combined total revenue of traditional media, according to Borrell Associates. By 2020, Borrell forecasts that two-thirds of local ad dollars will flow to digital.
How can radio integrate digital into its content marketing strategies?
The local radio station offers a full range of web-related services, from website building to SEO.
The station partners with local businesses to boost their organic search rankings by helping them add original content to their web sites, the boost in rankings in turning driving sales.
The station provides writers who pen blog posts, white papers, human interest stories and such for posting on the business’s site.
Comedic DJs create funny videos the businesses use to attract web traffic and send out via social media.
Weather and sports reporters host soft news videos on the business’s site.
DJs host an event at the business celebrating its 20th anniversary, handing out door prizes. Video of the event is posted on the business’s site.
The radio station then promotes these events over the air and in its news segments.
And radio is the perfect medium to offer these services, working as it does with so many small local businesses.
Stations are known in the community, and trusted. That gives them a huge advantage over the armies of fly-by-night web services that go door-to door from business to business hawking their services–and often not delivering.
In doing all this–adding web services to advertising–the station builds deeper ties with these businesses.
Court Stroud is a writer and a longtime media executive who has worked for companies such as Univisión, Telemundo and several digital startups. He most recently served as Azteca América’s EVP of network sales and digital. Stroud holds degrees from UT-Austin and the Harvard Business School. Follow him on Twitter: @CourtStroudNYC
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