I vividly remember sitting in my bedroom back in the 1990’s, next to my double cassette deck and radio combo with detachable speakers - yes, my Pirate Bay friends, back then I could record straight onto cassette from the radio. I was listening to a competition on Radio 5. It was a clip of 10 songs spliced together into 10 seconds and I knew all 10 clips!
I stole a call on my parents’ landline to the station, but I wasn’t able to get through because the lines were jammed.
Fast forward a few years later and I was the desk controller at Highveld Stereo directing all the buttons for Carnival City’s “Beat the Bomb” promotion. What an experience to see how the competition worked at the backend and how excited the audience was. By the way, a decade later, we still used phone calls as the entry mechanism and all six of our lines were “jammed”.
I laugh now because I can’t imagine telling a client today that their campaign was a success because all the telephone lines to the station were blocked by callers.
Yet, that was a measurement of success.
Things changed when SMSes became a standard competition entry. And now, voice notes.
But first the SMS. Back then the total SMS numbers delighted the client, until we could see the UNIQUE count and we found out only 100 people sent all those SMSes in the first place.
And now we are discovering true engagement in radio. But unfortunately, not from industry itself. And that’s why I left radio.
Six months ago I joined a Durban company, a team of developers and broadcast veterans who I have known for years.
They opened my eyes to a suite of digital radio tools called “Fabrik”.
It is that nirvana that radio has been looking for.
Except it’s not here to disrupt or topple you, it is a massively empowering tool to help.
I have seen radio stations use the product to great effect.
Imagine having a dashboard view of who is listening to the station, a view of how many people are interacting with you, and from what area of the country and with what device?
There is tons more information. It is all on one platform and it is all available in real time.
It is that incredible and I left radio for this.
The way radio typically tries to serve its advertisers is to have an outside supplier give them a messaging system and message board. Another supplier hosts your podcasts and live streams and another company will build you an app. Another will host your website. And yet none of these systems “speak” to another.
Sure, you get some information and data from some platforms, but never a view into the audience to interact with them or to have a full repository for your audience.
To put it another way, imagine your radio station had a way to put everyone in one place and get them to send you voice notes from your own app, and then build up a profile of that engaged audience? Imagine you could find out how many people were listening to you at any given time and were able to picture that listening behaviour to understand over time what it actually means.
This is something that RAMS has never been able to achieve, and now it’s a tangible thing.
The impact speaks for itself.
Now, of course, the more astute of you will say, “yes but that’s just a small section of my total audience” … and yes that’s true. But what if you actually grow YOUR OWN platform?
Instead of pushing Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or Instagram for feedback, you can actually have YOUR OWN environment to own and manage and communicate with, in real time.
You can grow it into a substantial audience. Maybe, just maybe, that is a better option than the disparate tools you currently deploy that still don't let you know anything about your audience.
This is harnessing digital. It takes us that much closer to understanding our audiences at a more granular level. Media buyers are familiar with social media dashboards, or web view engagement figures which they use to view or deep dive into.
Now we have it for radio, with Fabrik. And it is a real digital offering for those same media buyers. Now radio can harness digital in its own way. It is a true engagement audience metric.
There are no bots. Just real audience figures.
The audience is ready. Is your radio station?