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  • ‘Crazy good!’ App boosts radio station’s reach and revenue

    “It has been crazy,” says Tamie Mbombo with a huge grin. “You guys have put us way ahead in a race our competitors didn’t even know was being run in the first place!” Tamie is the head of Marketing and PR at Izwi LoMzansi, more commonly known as the Voice of South Africa, a community radio station broadcasting from the bustling Durban Station Complex, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The fast-paced madness has been crazy good for Mr Mbombo, and it all centres around engagement with his 278 000 listeners, people who tune in from as far afield as Port Edward in the South and Empangeni in the north. More specifically, in the case of this story, it relates to Izwi LoMzanzi’s direct engagement with over 20 000 of those listeners who have downloaded the station’s app on their smartphones. For one thing, it means they are no longer reliant on the terrestrial radio signal to listen to their favourite radio station and they now have a whole new platform to interact directly with presenters and advertisers. The app was developed on the Fabrik platform, a product of Durban based technology company immedia that is at the forefront of digital innovation, revolutionizing communication for broadcasters and community organisations. The software platform, which has been licenced by African radio stations since 2016 and is now in use by nearly 300,000 people across the globe, boasts a host of unique features that reimagines revenue for the radio industry. Jonathan Lumley, Fabrik’s head of Clients, Channels & Markets has been part of the team working with Tamie on Izwi LoMzansi’s digital journey. “Tamie has made some huge strides in upselling Izwi’s on air clients onto the app – having already sold a large amount of inventory to cell phone companies and big retailers to monetise its audience.” An example of an opening billboard in Izwi’s app Jonathan adds that Tamie has led the digital charge with featured podcasts and integrated advertising campaigns. “The impact of ‘change agents’ that drive digital transformation from within a station is crucial. Tamie has embraced the possibilities of this new revenue stream by providing relevant app-based campaigns which enhance the experience for Izwi listeners.” Tamie says that the app has made his job that much easier, dramatically improving the station’s listener data. “When our listeners download the app, they put in their age and other relevant data, so we know specifically what they want. That is gold. Fabrik has helped us prepare for the future.” While total privacy is consistently maintained between members who engage in public channels, individuals are given the option to share demographic information with the station – resulting in aggregated data that is then used to conceptualise campaigns that are ‘on the money’ for their advertisers. Tamie cites one of the recent app campaigns as an example. Called “#PimpMyBiz”, it involved entrepreneurs pitching their business idea to listeners in a voice note. In total 45 000 votes were received for the entrepreneurs that audience members rated as most likely to succeed. Calls-to-action alerted app members to the competition, and voters could send a hashtagged voice-note to the Izwi Studio. The five finalists in the competition won training and a suite of products and assistance to bootstrap their businesses. “This is the sort of engagement that is meaningful to our listeners and it helps advertisers direct their spend very specifically. Fabrik has brought us to the front of the starting line, in a race many are unaware is even being run.”

  • Customise your Message Groups to Promote conversations that matter

    One of the more challenging aspects of managing an online community is considering how to stimulate engagement, as well as creating ongoing opportunities for re-engagement. Fabrik offers powerful real-time Messaging functionality to bring your audience closer through easy-to-configure message groups called Conversations and Channels. What are Conversations and Channels? Each message group type you create can be categorised as either a 'Conversation' or a 'Channel' which empower you with different ways to engage your members based on your specific needs. What is the difference between a Conversation and a Channel? Channels are read-only message groups in which only 'Trusted' individuals (members who you assign the 'Trusted' status, such as administrators or moderators) can post content. Channels are especially useful for when you need to broadcasting information to a wide audience and don't require a response i.e. a Security channel in an emergency situation, or a dedicated Special Offers channel for adding value to your advertisers. Conversations are interactive message groups where anyone who is a part of that conversation can post content. A Conversation is a useful tool to have in your app when you're seeking active engagement or feedback from your audience, or would like to bring your community together around topics of interest. How can I set up a conversation or a channel? Log in to your Community Centre portal to administer your Conversations and Channels. Adding, editing, and removing a message group as simple as tapping a few buttons, uploading your image and presto! You're now ready to connect with your audience more meaningfully. When creating a message group, it’s important to know and understand the different options you have available to you. Here's a quick introduction to the various settings. Step 1: Set your group Name, Description and Image When choosing a name, try to be as concise as possible, as a long name i.e. name with multiple words, may run onto two lines. You'll also be required to add a description to each message group so your members know its purpose, as well as any guidelines that apply to that particular group. When creating images for conversations and channels, it's best to use a plain image with no text or logos, with a slightly dark colour, or overlay. Then, select the Settings tab to toggle your Conversation's/Channel's settings. Step 2: Depending on whether you're creating a Conversation or Channel, select your preferred message group type. Step 3: Set your Visibility. The Private option provides the opportunity to invite specific members to be a part of a hidden and secure Conversation or Channel which will not be visible to members who have not been added. Step 4: Options for Public message groups If you've created a 'Public' message group, the following options provide you with even more flexibility. Join by default All members will automatically be joined to this message group when they register their profile for the first time. They can choose to opt out afterwards. This can be useful when you'd prefer your audience to be part of a particular message group, but would still like to give them the option to opt out, i.e. in a Special Offers channel. Required If you set a message group as 'required,' all existing app members will be automatically added to this message group and will not be able to opt out. This is useful for Announcements or Security channels. Optional App members can join this message group if they’d like, and opt out whenever desired. Optional groups are useful when related to very specific topics like Gardening or Pets, that may only appeal to a certain subset of your audience. Step 5: Notify by Default Configure any message group to receive push notifications by default. Note that your members will still have the option to enable or disable push notifications on any Conversation or Channel if they wish to do so. Your direct messaging channel with each member While Conversations or Channels are to be created by your team according to the custom needs of your community, a standard conversation that you'll find within your app is the direct message space in which each individual can communicate privately with you. Messages received from this conversation land into your community's Smashboard for an administrator to see and respond to quickly. Messages sent via this conversation (often referred to as Contact Us but can be customised) are only visible to yourself and that particular member, and become an important part of the way that you're able to be of service individuals. This is a great solution for a helpdesk, control centre, or studio environment as it brings all your inbound direct messaging engagement into one place! Watch our Smashboard webinar to find out how to use this channel effectively. Content Moderation - coming soon! As any online engagement platform grows in size and chattiness, it's important that community administrators have a mechanism to review and moderate all content being shared to avoid content that contravenes community guidelines. Look out for new functionality coming to your mobile app and Community Centre soon to assist you in doing so, which you can read about in August's emailer. Further info Explore the features of Community Centre. Offer a Message group to your advertisers. Watch our walk-through of the Smashboard messaging management portal. And of course, get in touch with our Customer Success team if you'd like some help with setting up a new Conversation or Channel.

  • 5 benefits to Consolidating your audience engagement

    Why you should consider transitioning your audience engagement and management to your own private platform. As more businesses acknowledge the importance of real-time engagement to their bottom line, social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have become the default way we communicate with our customers. Whether it's to send quotes, schedule appointments, or answer support queries, social media platforms offer messaging solutions that seem to address communication needs, supported by a low barrier to entry as most consumers are already on these sites and familiar with the functionality. So it's no surprise to us that many of the customers we onboard onto our Fabrik platform in have historically relied on these platforms to manage their own community engagement. As these platforms expand in reach and influence, so too does our awareness of their limitations which range from the mild inconvenience of mixing your business and personal messaging in the same place, to the moral conundrum of supporting platforms that incite the spread of fake news and contribute to social division. Fabrik seeks to offer an ethical alternative, and has been designed as a private, secure way of engaging with your audience in your own branded environment. With your data stored in a private cloud environment, your community's information can only be accessed by you and never harvested or sold to third-party advertisers. In addition, Fabrik is a converged technology tool that brings together many different parts of your business operations - each of which come with their own costs and are managed in silos - bringing ease through integrated, fit-for-purpose tools and workflows. Many of our customers who have consolidated their costs and efforts into their own platform have experienced these benefits on a daily basis, and here are just a few you can consider if you're thinking about how to transform the way you serve your audience or community. #1: Build intimacy with your community in your own private, inclusive space. Fabrik offers your community your own branded service point in the form of a mobile app, which - when used to bring all community engagement and messaging into one place - fosters a sense of community that is noticeably absent in platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. Your most loyal audience will find you here day after day, creating community cohesion, loyalty and increased engagement over time. Using a public social network can result in your community and security communication getting lost in a sea of other personal or business conversations, and multiple groups making it difficult to follow important conversations. The customisable Messaging elements of Fabrik also allow different sub-communities to arise based on different interest groups such as Gardening, Pets and Fitness - which facilitates connections between like-minded individuals. Hayden Conradie, the Manager of the Upper Umhlanga Security Trust, says what started out as an emergency channel evolved, providing features specifically for older residents, for example. “People can lend a hand, discuss a market or places that deliver food. All that chatter was on a single WhatsApp group before and that was a nightmare.” "Now the Emergency channel on the app stays open and the other channels involving pets and bargains and the rest can be muted." Fabrik is a platform that adds value to many different kinds of communities with different demographics, and although we hear concerns from customers who are sceptical about how easy it would be for example older folks to be comfortable using, what we've seen is that they do so with relative ease. To illustrate this point, let's take a look at one of our media customers who are a radio station situated in Mozambique with an average listening age of 50+. The station started using Fabrik in mid 2019 and have seen an 1000% increase in app engagement (visits, unique visitors, registered users visitors) since their launch. In the same station, 43% of those who've downloaded the app have also registered their profiles which means that they're opting in to receive and send messages from the studio. To make it easier for even the biggest technophobe out there to use Fabrik, the platform also offers our app membership a dedicated Support desk, as well handy in-app FAQ material to help those who are less comfortable with technology find the support they require. Another concern we hear quite often is that audiences who are data-sensitive will be more tentative to use a platform like Fabrik, but what we're seeing in some of our customers whose audiences are of a lower LSM are using the app just as much, if not more than our customers with more affluent audiences. This is partly due to the fact that the app has been built with data sensitivity in mind which means that app download sizes are kept as lightweight as possible (±15MB on the Google Play Store or ±35MB on the App Store), and the app's live-stream uses only ±14MB to stream per hour. A community radio station based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal who adopted Fabrik in late-2017 has seen a 1,349% increase in engagement since the month of their launch - which indicates that their app membership is growing at an exponential rate year-on-year. Out of nearly 20,000 people who have downloaded the app, more than half are engaging in messaging and, this year alone, their live-stream has been listened to nearly 400,000 times. #2: Build engagement workflows that easily fold in your other initiatives. Fabrik is a converged platform that integrates all of our customers' community and audio management functionality seamlessly into one suite of applications, eliminating the need to manage multiple databases and technology tools, and freeing up your team's time to spend on other things. One of Fabrik's most popular applications is Echocast, which brings together powerful podcasting and audio management capabilities into one place - equipping any media entity to capture, store and categorise audio to be shared instantly or saved to be used at a later stage. Due to its real-time audio archival functionality, you can also retrieve a piece of your previously aired broadcast within minutes, which is particularly useful for compliance and audit purposes or compiling magical on-air moments to be played again on-air. Explore the features of Echocast: #3: Keep your audience safe and secure and protect their personal information and engagement data. The Fabrik platform has been designed with your audience's safety and privacy in mind, and neither the mobile app nor any part of the platform will ever track your members' personal information. What this means is that your community will never be subjected to predatory advertising based on their personal data, and if, for some reason, you ever decide to cancel your Fabrik subscription, any data related to your audience engagement would be handed over to your community to keep forever, and is not retained by Fabrik. Another measure Fabrik will soon be implementing is a mechanism by which app members can report any content they find objectionable based on the community's guidelines, as well as report other members they find are in contravention of those guidelines. As any online community grows in size and chattiness, it becomes crucial that members feel that they are in a safe and respectful environment that upholds their values, which is why the addition of this functionality is important. As an administrator of that community, it can be a concern when considering how to create that environment, and ensure that members of that community behave respectfully towards each other and that conversations do not spiral into abusive or inappropriate behaviour. #4: Opportunities to generate revenue for community initiatives. Many of our Fabrik customers in Community Radio and Residential Communities typically have a specific mandate to raise funds that can be allocated to community initiatives and social upliftment. Choosing to adopt your own private platform means that you can monetise it in the way you want to which, with Fabrik, is always in your control and respectful towards your audience's data. Within Fabrik, there are a number of advertising inventory options that are available to you which you can use to generate revenue for your community, and to change the way that you engage with your advertisers and transform your adverting offering. Tamie Mbombo, Marketing Manager at KZN-based community station Izwi LoMzansi, has achieved significant results through the modern inventory available in the platform that "makes their advertising offering more compelling": "It's great for smaller stations without the infrastructure to compete with bigger stations. Advertising has been bliss!" #5: Access to ongoing app updates and feature enhancements. Fabrik's Software-as-a-Service subscription model means that your community will have access to ongoing updates and feature enhancements that are deployed on a regular basis across Fabrik's suite of applications. More importantly, as your content offering grows, you can elect to add new integrations and feeds into your own app, providing a customised experience for your members and growing with your audience as their expectations evolve. Hear from our software development teams about our approach to technology enhancements on our Feature blog, or peruse our Release Log for a sense of the major updates that are constantly added to your applications. In summary, the benefit of consolidating your audience engagement into an all-in-one product like Fabrik is that it not only makes the management thereof easier and less time-consuming, but also allows you to expand, grow and take advantage of that engagement for the benefit of your community.

  • The future of radio is real, relevant and multi-platform

    Exciting new technologies promise to make radio more accessible and engaging than it has ever been. This includes app-based platforms that enable broadcasters to engage with listeners like never before, software that lets producers edit sound as easily as a text document, and a “radio station in a bucket” that turns a mobile phone onto a broadcast hub. That’s according to radio futurologist James Cridland, who believes that while innovations like these point to a bright future for the over 100-year-old medium, it’ll take more than adopting cool new tech to succeed in the increasingly splintered and diverse arena that radio is evolving into. “Radio is more than just AM and shortwave, more than big, old fashioned transmitters. Radio is a shared experience with a human connection,” he said during a recent webinar on the future of radio hosted by Fabrik, a South African-developed software platform for broadcasters and community groups. “That shared experience is something that [streaming music service] Spotify can't offer. It's something that somebody’s CD player can't offer,” he said, adding that this also applied to radio stations who just play non-stop music. “There's no human connection there. There's no real shared experience.” A century-old medium that keeps getting better For those cynical about radio’s future, Cridland had this to say: people have been predicting the demise of the medium since 1894 when Lord Kelvin, president of Britain’s top science academy, the Royal Society, famously said: “Radio has no future”. “When television came along, everybody assumed that radio was going to die. Of course, that wasn't the case. New technology arose that fixed a lot of the things that radio lacked. We were able to get radio into cars, and transistor technology ultimately shrunk radios and put them into our hands.” Similarly, dire predictions about the imminent death of radio accompanied the rise of the World Wide Web yet, “Radio is still tremendously powerful and tremendously popular,” Cridland said, citing figures from many countries around the world that show nine out of 10 people tune into the radio every week. People are listening to live radio on an increasingly diverse range of devices. While the traditional FM/AM receiver remained the most popular, many people, particularly younger listeners, are listening on tablets, smart speakers, and TV sets - using services like DStv in South Africa. But when it comes to mobile phones, live radio is a much smaller component of the audio consumption experience than it is on laptops and tablets. Cridland said people who listened on their phones favoured on-demand content like podcasts or their own music collections. Listening patterns also varied significantly according to age, with younger people favouring a mix of live and on-demand content, while older people mainly listen to live radio. Another trend Cridland identified was the difference in use between loudspeakers and headphones. “Loudspeakers are generally used for live radio, while headphones are for on demand audio. Headphones are used to give people things they want to listen to right now, whereas loudspeakers accompany people as they go about their daily activities.” But what about content "on demand"? He cautioned that while as many people as ever are listening to live radio, the amount of time they’re devoting to it has declined, with younger people increasingly favouring on-demand content like podcasts and streaming music. Cridland said this trend should prompt broadcasters to reconsider the widely held notion that live content is always better, when in fact there were technology issues associated with live radio that often put it at a disadvantage compared to on-demand content. “For example, if you're doing a live interview, you can't edit that interview to make it snappier and more interesting. You're stuck with whatever it is that you're broadcasting live. As an advocate for radio, this concerns me, because our competitors can polish interviews, can make stories far more compelling by post-producing them.” It also means a lot of good content is disappearing. “We broadcast it once and it's gone. That's a big mistake. We should be making it available to as many people as we can, in as many different ways as we can.” Find out how to automatically record your live broadcast & create and share podcasts in seconds. One solution, said Cridland, would be for broadcasters to incorporate pre-produced content into live radio. “Polishing things first instead of broadcasting them live works better than taking live content and then editing it down for on-demand consumption.” He said Apple Music's recently launched radio stations were a good example of this. “These three stations are free to anybody with an iPhone or a Mac computer. When you listen to them, you realise that a bunch of pre-production has gone into them. “These shows have been specifically built for on-demand consumption and then broadcast on a radio station. And that means you can get more use out of your content. It means that you can put your content in loads of different places. It also means that the audio sounds really good and polished.” Use data to keep you 'real and relevant' Cridland said that while live and local is an important part of radio, it's only a part of the future of radio, with being “real and relevant” to your audience just as significant. “Having relevant content may be talking about things that are going on locally, but it may also be talking about things that are relevant to your audience, which requires knowing who your audience is. This is why having data, having stats, is a really important tool. And we can get a lot more data and stats from online radio than we can from, FM and AM broadcast radio.” This, Cridland said this is what makes platforms like Fabrik so powerful. “We need to meet audiences where they are and it’s a dumb broadcaster that tries to control them, that sits there and says ‘we're a radio station, we're only going to broadcast on FM and AM’, or ‘we're only going to put our audio into our own app’. That might've worked 30 years ago. It doesn't work now. You can't control your consumer because if you try and control your consumer by pushing them and bullying them, they won’t be your consumer anymore.” Watch the full webinar, and share your thoughts.

  • Monetise your Mobile app engagement

    Fabrik offers a multitude of platform inventory options that you can use for in-house campaigns or offer to advertisers! Consolidating your audience engagement and feedback through your own mobile app offers you possibilities that transform your connection with your listener: your most engaged, most responsive audience segment is now in your branded space, ready to be activated; a quick push notification will bring them back into your environment within seconds to keep engaging and listening; and the workflows behind the app will help you reach your app-based audience as well as those scattered around social media - all at the same time. But even more significantly, you now have aggregated insights into your audience's behaviour and profile that were previously unheard of: you can now tell when your audience is most likely to engage with you; you know which kind of audio content they really enjoy; and you can even see in real time who is engaging with you and how! While these benefits are transformative for your operations, the possibilities are attractive to any advertiser looking for the best value for their advertising spend. A natural progression for our clients across a variety of industries is to engage with advertising partners to create commercial campaigns or even generate additional revenue for your organisation. And even for brands that are non-profit, you now have the ability to generate revenue for community-focused initiatives based on a rate-card you come up with, in accordance with your selected advertising offering. The inventory available for your mobile app and audio content can be incorporated into integrated campaigns with your customer, or even for raising awareness of internal promotions or features. Audio Inventory This inventory is accessible everywhere your live stream and podcasts can be found: the live stream and podcast section in your app the live stream and podcast on your website and even when your podcasts are shared on social media. A Featured Podcast is a podcast that is pinned to the top of the Rewind section within your app or website, which can be sold to an advertiser or used for an internal campaign or promotion. Another smart use of a Featured Podcast is to promote a longer-form piece of audio like a popular interview, a viral on-air moment, or even an off-air audio file that wasn't played in your usual broadcast but would be of interest to your listeners. You can either set an existing podcast as Featured or easily upload a Featured Podcast via your Echocast audio management dashboard. Here's a quick demo from a recent webinar to get you started. Audio Pre-Rolls When you're promoting a particularly high profile campaign, either for your brand or for a station, it may help to guarantee that your listeners hear the advert regardless of the time of day they choose to tune in. The live stream pre-roll is an audio advert that plays every time a listener presses play on the live stream in their app or on your website, and the podcast pre-roll is an audio advert that plays at the beginning of every podcast. These ads offer your advertiser guaranteed engagement with your audience as pre-rolls cannot be skipped or fast forwarded. Detailed data and analytics are available for your audio engagement on your Metrics dashboard, and if you'd like to add a podcast or live-stream pre-roll to your app or website, simply drop us an email. App Billboards App billboards are scrollable images that appear when an app member first launches the app. Billboards are flighted for the duration of a specific time-period, and you can add multiple billboards to your app at a time. When booked by multiple advertisers, these can be sold at a premium rate depending on the order or set to be ordered randomly. An optional call-to-action link can also be added to the billboard to direct interested people to a web page with more information, or even a phone number if phone calls are the desired outcome for that particular campaign. Detailed stats and reporting are available on the number of views (impressions) and click-throughs that each billboard receives. Messaging There are also opportunities to offer your advertisers a presence within the 'Messages' tab on your app - via a sponsored conversation or channel. A sponsored channel gives your advertiser the exclusive opportunity to access a community or audience through a branded service point in which they can share dynamic media content like videos, images, text, and voice notes or even promotional QR codes or barcodes. The advertiser can choose either a two-way Conversation, in which the community can respond to them publicly and ask questions, or a one-way broadcast Channel, where only they can post content. Directory of Services Offer numerous advertisers, local businesses or even your own app community the opportunity to list their business or service, with add contact information such as their email address, website address and phone number. This opens up your advertising offering to a broader community of advertisers who may not have suitable services for the more prominent kinds of app inventory. Dialboard The dialboard is a panel for quick, one-touch dialling of useful community contacts within the app which can also be sponsored by an advertiser - offering them increased brand presence and an easy way for your audience to connect with them! A Cloud Concierge button can also be added to the dialboard to offer your advertiser a branded attention button your audience can use to signify that they'd like to be contacted by the station or advertiser. (This is an opt-in service that sends the individual's registered contact details with the station or advertiser.) Data Insights and Campaign Reporting Fabrik also offers you a range of campaign management and reporting functionality you can use to make the most of the platform and inventory you have available. Once you've considered the different kinds of advertising inventory you'd like to include in your revenue initiatives, you're now ready to empower your Sales team with training material and educate your advertisers on your new Fabrik inventory! From there, you'd be well-positioned to run your next engagement campaign and offer your advertisers powerful insights into your audience engagement. If you'd like a hand planning your next campaign, go ahead and get in touch!

  • Radio promotion wows through laser-focused digital strategy

    A look at how YFM received over 1 million competition entries during a global pandemic, and what the station did differently during lockdown to cater for its young market over that period. Since March 2020, radio programming in South Africa has been dominated by all things Covid-19, and many broadcasting platforms found themselves having to pivot rapidly to keep their audiences engaged with topical information during a time of global uncertainty. From daily statistics to coverage on government’s ongoing response, and from features on precautionary measures to advice on how to keep yourself occupied - all media was Corona-media. However, YFM's approach to their Youth Month campaign was strikingly different. As the country prepared to enter a nationwide lockdown amid the anxiety and fear of a global pandemic, YFM - a commercial youth radio station based in Gauteng - set out to run their ambitious audience engagement campaign known as 100Racks, which promised listeners a total of R100 000 in prize money. Over the prior four years, the station had been using Fabrik to build, grow and engage their audience. YFM had run versions of this campaign twice before with different executions as part of a broader strategic objective for the station to educate and connect with their most loyal audience, and to sustain that engagement over time. This time round, Fabrik's audience engagement functionality combined with powerful real-time insights provided the backdrop to execute an integrated campaign of this magnitude. Where it began YFM started this particular journey in August 2019 with their 992Racks campaign, which spanned 10 days and gave away R99,200 in total prize-money during The Best Drive, DJ Sabby's afternoon drive-time show. The motivation behind the first implementation of 992Racks was to familiarise the audience with how a campaign of this nature works. YFM hadn't executed a campaign in this way in quite some time, so it was vital to get both their audience familiar with how these executions would work and to trial different executions with their on-air talent. YFM levels up Fast-forward to the weeks leading up to the first Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa, and the general mood in the country and the province was one of fear and anxiety. What the station knew at the time was that a fundamental shift in radio engagement and consumption would occur during lockdown and that it would be important for them to connect even more deeply with their most engaged audience. "As we headed into lockdown, we knew that listening habits would, would change fundamentally, and it was important for us to take our most engaged audience and to grow the size of that audience and to take them into lockdown with us." Hilton Tarrant, Digital Manager at YFM It was primarily for this reason that they elected to run the campaign again, but this time known as '100Racks' - based on the R100 000 available prize money, of which the purpose was twofold: To educate a data-sensitive audience about the app's data consumption and live-streaming efficiencies, which are particularly low as the app has been specifically developed and is constantly optimised for as minimal data usage as possible. To derive certain key insights on audience demographics and usage on an opt-in basis, taking advantage of the app's member registration capabilities - which was a pre-requisite for entry. The insights derived from this week-long campaign were indeed powerful, and a significant spike in new app registrations was observed during the duration of the campaign. 100Racks 3.0 After gauging the significant impact and response of their audience to the prior 100Racks campaigns, YFM chose to run the third and most recent iteration during Youth Month in June 2020, at a time when it was particularly important for the station, who have a predominantly youth audience, to be active and engaging even more deeply with their most loyal audience. The station considered this particular campaign an opportunity to ramp up their previous efforts, and bring together multiple teams across the station (including Marketing, Programming, Creative Solutions, Sales, and Research) to collaborate in finding ways to bring a message of positivity and hope through the campaign to the country's youth during a time when it was sorely needed. This time, the campaign ran throughout the day from 5am to 10pm, with different executions, variations and tactics, giving away R2000 prize money in each show to a total of R100 000, and providing 48 unique opportunities to win over the two-week period. The entry mechanic was once again very simple. Entrants were asked to listen out for a unique keyword given per show, and to message in the keyword to the station as soon as they heard it. Results of the campaign The response to the campaign was mind-blowing and by the end of the two-week period, the station had received over 1.1million competition entries. Hear from YFM's Digital Manager Hilton Tarrant about results of the campaign: During the two weeks, YFM's live-streaming engagement doubled. App engagement also experienced a significant uplift, increasing by 70% during the campaign. During the month of June, app downloads increased by 100% compared to the previous monthly average. Crucially, the station also noted that listeners were accessing the stream more often during the day, and for longer periods of time, which was visible in audio streaming data from the app, website and third-party streaming aggregators, indicating a structural shift to retained listenership throughout the day for the duration of the campaign. As shown in the above graph, the total daily live streaming sessions were higher, and engagement is more sustained throughout the course of the day. Fabrik redefines the integrated campaign Throughout the course of the three campaigns, YFM made use of a broad array of Fabrik functionality to engage with listeners, monitor that engagement in real time, select winners and gain insights into the campaign as a whole. YFM's mobile app was a key component in the execution of the campaign, and the messaging and profiling capabilities within the app were used to enter the competition and derive key campaign insights. Fabrik's audience engagement dashboard was used to track campaign entries, select winners and monitor audience engagement. During each campaign, a key application feature, the Campaign Manager was used to monitor engagement on each specific keyword, and monitor audience interaction during each show. Fabrik's Metrics dashboard illuminates key audience engagement insights over time, which the station observed to monitor stats and analytics in real time as well as gain a consolidated overview of all audience engagement throughout the campaign. YFM's commitment to their audience draws them ever closer Fabrik provides a space beyond the normal social media channels for your most loyal, most engaged audience to find you, connect with you and grow with you. It also provides you with the tools you need to be of service to your community and engage with them in the most meaningful way. YFM's commitment to doing just that and their strategic vision gave both the station and their audience resilience during a very difficult time, and has resulted in a sustained increase in their app and live-streaming engagement in the months since then. Watch our recent webinar on the 100Racks campaign to find out more.

  • Radio Days Africa 2020: Session with Jonathan Lumley

    We are excited to contribute once again to Radio Days Africa, the largest radio conference in Africa. With the usual format of a 3-day conference in Johannesburg now impossible, Radio Days Africa pivoted to hosting 20 engaging sessions over 20 days. "From interactive chats, panel discussions, master classes and individual presentations, #RDA2020 aims to promote sector wide learning and keep the radio industry talking (to and about each other)" - radiodaysafrica.co.za This year, Jonathan Lumley shared his thoughts in a session on the 'Top Promotions from Across the Globe' which you can watch on-demand:

  • Record and publish your audio content in real time!

    Use Fabrik to capture live radio content and immediately publish as a podcast or download a snippet of archived audio from any time in the past! Fabrik's Echocast application is an audio recording and publishing tool built for the live radio environment. The application is browser-based, making it accessible via any secure desktop computer or mobile device and, due to its cloud-based technology, processes and shares your audio within seconds. For many of our Fabrik operators, the real-time audio recording and podcasting capabilities found within the Echocast application have become an invaluable contribution to your daily workflows, allowing podcasts to be easily recorded and published in real time to your website and/or mobile app. Within Echocast, you are empowered with the following audio recording and packaging capabilities: Record real-time audio from your Live stream Echocast's most distinguishing feature is the ability to record your radio broadcast in real time from your live stream, and publish the clip as a podcast - seconds after the live on-air moment occurs. To access this feature, simply tap the button in the top-left of the screen labelled 'Start Recording,' where you'll be able to record in real time, pause and resume for ad breaks, and add searchable metadata to your new podcast right before publishing. Tag your content to make it more discoverable Within Echocast, you have the ability to tag and add metadata to your podcasts to make it easier for your audience to search and find. Go to the menu in the top-right of the screen to create Categories - which are similar to organisational ‘folders’ for grouping together related podcasts. Categories are typically created for regular features, news bulletins, and even regular shows eg. ‘Prank Call’, ‘News’ or ‘Breakfast’. Grouping recordings into Categories eases content discovery for your audience. Presets facilitate one-click recording, saving and publishing to further simplify and streamline the workflow of recording frequent/regular features. Access the Presets section at the top-right of the screen. When configuring a preset, you would add the metadata, category and other settings that all podcasts with this preset would need to have, eliminating the need for this to be entered every time. Good examples are ‘News’ and ‘Sport’, but presets can also be created for any regular programming feature. Create a featured podcast When you set your podcast as 'Featured,' it will be published right at the top of the Rewind section in your app or web page - as the very first podcast your listener sees. This is particularly useful if you're running an advertising campaign, or would like to elevate a certain podcast in your app or website. Upload existing audio File If you have an existing piece of audio you'd like to publish as a podcast to your app or website, upload it via Echocast, add metadata and publish! Download archived audio from any time in the past Echocast offers you the ability to download an audio clip from your archive, to play again on-air or even send to an advertiser for your post-campaign analysis. All you have to do is tap the 'Request Audio Archive' button, specify the exact time of the audio you'd like to extract, which will then be emailed to you within minutes.

  • Get closer to your audience with Metrics!

    Use key insights from Fabrik's Metrics application to track live engagement and audience behaviour over time. If you're already a Fabrik client, you may have had the opportunity to start using the platform's newest application, Metrics - a real-time data visualisation and tool which offers a glimpse into your live audience engagement as well as key insights about your audience's behaviour over time. Having access to this kind of information empowers your teams to make strategic decisions in real-time by gauging how your audience is responding to your content and programming. Here are some examples of the kind of data and information that is now available to you via Metrics and, as the application evolves, our aim is to add even more insights related to audio engagement, as well as information around advertising inventory to strengthen your offering to advertisers. Current app and Live-stream Engagement View a summary of particularly useful live data, such as chat messages sent within the last hour, new member registrations and listeners accessing the live stream from your app or Fabrik-powered live-stream web widgets right now. Live-Streaming from your Fabrik and icecast streams A consolidated view of all streaming numbers from your Fabrik and Icecast streams. View the graph with trendlines to spot trends over time. App Engagement and downloads over time It may also be useful for you to track the impact of campaigns or on-air calls-to-action by monitoring app engagement or app downloads over time. App Engagement View a summary of your app engagement over time, including: Total app visits - the amount of times the app was accessed within the chosen period. Unique visitors - the number of discrete individuals who accessed your app within the chosen period. Unique registered visitors - the number of discrete individuals who have registered a profile within your app within the chosen period. App Downloads It's also useful to know how many times your app has been downloaded on each platform - in total, or within a specified period. Billboard Advertising If you are taking advantage of some of the advertising and revenue generating aspects of Fabrik such as billboards, then head over to Metrics to view all of your billboard campaigns in once centralised space, with billboard Views and Clicks visible at a glance.

  • Optimising the future of Fabrik's apps

    Modernising our native Android and iOS codebases by migrating to Kotlin and Swift. As developers contributing to and maintaining the Android and iOS mobile apps that make up immedia’s Fabrik platform, there are a number of things we expect to happen during the lifespan of the mobile apps we deliver. Bugs will arise, new features will need to be ideated, and both Apple and Google will release major updates to their operating systems - to which our apps will be required to adapt. At each of these junctures, we’ll need to respond quickly as, of high importance to ourselves and our clients, is the guarantee that as environmental challenges evolve, so do our mobile apps to meet these challenges. At a high level, there are 4 areas of coding support that Fabrik apps receive: Corrective, better known as bug fixing. Adaptive; adapting to the latest hardware and OS changes. Perfective; dealing with changes in user requirements. Preventative; code restructuring & optimisations aimed at reducing complexity and preventing future errors. The first three areas are fairly self-explanatory and commonly practiced as our team works hard to ship regular app updates for our Fabrik clients with the latest bug fixes and improvements, additional feature enhancements and finally, updates required to become compliant with the latest OSes. However, as developers, we don’t readily reveal the ‘preventative’ part of what we do i.e. the behind-the-scenes code improvements, re-writes and optimisations that are implemented on an ongoing basis. In this blog post, we offer some insight into what that looks like for Fabrik in particular, and how we’re working to ensure the longevity of our product through modernising our mobile app codebases. When immedia’s development teams started to build Fabrik’s Android and iOS apps, the Objective-C coding language was initially used on iOS whereas Java was used on Android. Since then, alternatives from Apple (Swift for iOS) and Google (Kotlin for Android) have matured and become the gold standard for developing apps on their platforms. Now, any new app developer just starting out will default to using one of these newer languages rather than the 36-year old Objective-C or 20-year old Java. Swift is one of the fastest growing languages in history and, in 2019, Kotlin became Google’s preferred choice for Android development. One of the key benefits of these languages is that they can be used in conjunction with their predecessors. On Fabrik, the code is currently a combination of the old and the new, and our endeavour now is to future-proof our source code as much as we can and systematically re-create as much code as possible into Swift and Kotlin. However, for some features this interoperability does take some effort, so in order for us to keep delivering new features and app enhancements in the future, we’ll need to allocate time now to preventative maintenance with an expanded effort around code rewrites and optimisations. We will move quickly to ease out the historical languages in favour of the modern counterparts, so that our platform will continue to be operational today and for years to come. When we end this journey, our apps will be more efficient and less error-prone, which will make our investment of time and effort into these code migrations worthwhile. For the most part, Swift and Kotlin share the same ideologies and will deliver much of the same benefits on their respective platforms. Here are a few key points on why we’ve chosen to make these transitions: 1. Speed The new languages are fast; for example, a simple search algorithm has been benchmarked as being 2.6 times faster in Swift than Objective-C. Historically Objective-C has never been a fast language. It’s been built as an after-thought on top of the C programming language. Which means it carries with it legacy C functions. Swift has removed the limitations of the C language. Further, Objective-C also uses runtime code compilation rather than compile time: this means that when an Objective-C object calls code in another object, it’s not a direct function call; rather it leverages message passing. The runtime determines if an object actually implements the function represented in the message. If it doesn't implement it, the class will either forward the message onto another object, or throw an exception. This is incredibly fast, but still adds an overhead which would be measurable when it happens millions of times. Swift and Kotlin benchmarks continue to improve with each update of the language. This is a key factor as it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest releases of the language in order to reap all of the benefits. Swift currently is in version 5.2 with Kotlin at 1.4. (languages also receive updates with additional capabilities, bug fixes and improved methods of performing tasks). 2. Better Syntax The languages are lean, intuitive, easier to read and it’s more efficient to apply changes when needed. Kotlin has removed a lot of clutter and redundancy from code. Literally a class that used to be 100 lines is now only 2 lines. This aids in preventing common programming mistakes (resulting in far fewer crashes!) as the more code you have, the more it costs to maintain due to the additional overhead it brings. An example of a Kotlin feature that helps to reduce the size of the code base are Data Classes which allows the expression of POJOs with minimal code. The following showcases the original code in Java versus the Kotlin implementation. Java Class: public class Person {     private String name;     private String surname;     private String id;     public String getName() {         return name;     }     public void setName(String name) {         this.name = name;     }     public String getSurname() {         return surname;     }     public void setSurname(String surname) { this.surname = surname;     }     public String getId() {         return id;     }     public void setId(String id) {         this.id = id;     }     @Override public boolean equals(Object o) {         if (this == o) return true;         if (o == null || getClass() != o.getClass()) return false;         Person person = (Person) o;         if (name != null ? !name.equals(person.name) : person.name != null) return false;         if (surname != null ? !surname.equals(person.surname) : person.surname != null)             return false;         return id != null ? id.equals(person.id) : person.id == null;     }     @Override public int hashCode() {         int result = name != null ? name.hashCode() : 0;         result = 31 * result + (surname != null ? surname.hashCode() : 0);         result = 31 * result + (id != null ? id.hashCode() : 0);         return result;     }     @Override public String toString() {         return "Person{" +                 "name='" + name + ''' +                 ", surname='" + surname + ''' +                 ", id='" + id + ''' +                 '}';     } } Kotlin: data class Person(var name: String, var surname: String, var id: String) As you can see, Kotlin saves all of the Java boilerplate code that’s needed. 3. Improved Compiler Humans make mistakes and software has bugs. Some of the causes of these bugs can now be detected whilst coding and not only when running the app. Error messages are more precise, and the compiler is now better at pinpointing the exact piece of code that needs fixing. Further to that, code completion is faster and there is increased reliability in debugging. Lastly, building the app, whilst developing, is way quicker. One such improvement is the handling of nulls or, as it’s often referred to, The Billion Dollar Mistake. Be it Objective-C or Java, a pain point for developers is the null reference which causes runtime exceptions or apps crashing. To overcome this, Kotlin provides null safety at compile time with Swift utilising the Optional type. Code examples: Swift let number: Int? = 10 let letter: String? = "abc" Kotlin val number: Int? = 10 val letter: String? = "abc" 4. Open Source The inner workings of the language are freely available to explore, meaning that the developer community at large are constantly working on finding and fixing bugs - this is really why the language has been able to grow in stability. Today on the Swift repo there’s 104 000 commits,  27 000 merged pull requests, 8 400 forks and 341 branches. Kotlin also has astonishing stats: 65 000 commits, 1 372 merged pull requests, 3 900 forks, 3 900 branches. Both languages are actively maintained by both the original developers and the community. A side effect of this is that the languages are also available to perform other tasks. We now have Swift on the Server, Swift for Windows and many other projects and new operating systems. Whilst none of these are mature, being open source does drive the penetration of the language. 5. Industry Standard Over 50% of Android developers now use Kotlin, and Google themselves now take a Kotlin-first approach with many of their new features and libraries being offered first in Kotlin. Apple re-wrote foundational parts of their established operating system in Swift. As an example, on MacOS, the Dock (which is used to launch and switch between apps) is now in Swift. Uber’s iOS code base is now 90% Swift, and many other big apps have either already begun or completed their migration to it. Netflix, Evernote, Lyft, Twitter, Pinterest, Flipboard and AirBnB are just a few examples. Further to this there are also official communities from Podcasts to a Subreddit and even a Slack Group all aiding in taking the languages forward. 6. Future Support If anyone has learnt iOS development in recent years, they would have learnt Swift. And as time goes on, the only developers who can support Objective-C will be the senior developers who have been working on iOS for an extended period of time. The same roadmap will unfurl as developers migrate from Android to Kotlin. Whilst both Apple and Google have made their intentions clear on the way forward for development, it’s unlikely that either predecessor language will become completely obsolete. However, it will become very niche, and already some of the documentation on Objective-C development from Apple has been retired. 7. Developer Happiness This deserves a noteworthy mention. When both Lyft and Basecamp rewrote their Kotlin apps, one of the driving factors was to make a huge difference in programmer happiness. To quote one of the senior engineers at Basecamp: “Happier developers leads to great code and ultimately a better product.” In addition, they wanted to improve developer work quality and speed. In the latest Stack Overflow Developers Survey, Kotlin and Swift positioned themselves at number 4 & 9 of the most loved languages to work in respectively. At the opposite end Objective-C ranked as the second most dreaded. TL;DR: Swift and Kotlin really are better languages - they’re cleaner and less laboured than working on the legacy languages. Debugging is superior and learning advanced coding techniques is easier. Whilst all the hard work and optimisations our teams are doing may not always be visible, our clients can rest assured that we are busy building an even better product that can be enjoyed long into the future! P.S. Don’t worry - it’s not all maintenance work, and we do have some exciting feature updates planned for the next year as well so watch this space!

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