Convergence: Found Money; Good Ideas
June 4, 2010: Friday afternoon at Radio Ink's Convergence -- held Thursday and Friday at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, CA -- Presslaff Interactive Revenues President Ruth Presslaff moderated the "Found Money" panel, first asking panelists what digital initiative has been most successful for them.
KPRI-FM/San Diego Director of Integrated Marketing Kim Hallisay said, "The asset we've done a lot with recently is our e-mail database," with the station growing it through prizes and a focus on content. She added, "We've been very protective of it, but using it the right way, we're beginning to get some results."
Premiere Radio Networks EVP/Digital Media Brian Lakamp said, "The most important thing we have is the relationship with consumers," with Premiere personalities like Rush Limbaugh. He said, "We take great care to curate that."
When Presslaff said, "The biggest issue that I see is training salespeople to understand that this is all new, and to try it.," Lakamp agreed, saying making the sales force "digitally fluent" is a challenge and an investment. He said, "We definitely use our strongest digital sellers" to help train others.
Asked what makes a good digital seller, Hallisay said, "The sellers I've found that are the best ... were willing to have the conversation and really think about how the tools could be used in creating a new idea." Lakamp said, "We're really looking for people who aren't afraid to dive in."
Thursday Convergence keynoter and panelists Jeffrey Eisenberg added that enthusiasm is key: "I'd prefer ignorance on fire over somebody who can answer all the questions."
Presslaff pointed out that radio sellers are accustomed to thinking in terms of large audience numbers and have to adjust to a new "micro" trend. Eisenberg said, for his part, "Numbers don't impress me." He said, "I don't care that you're talking to a million people. I'm impressed that I'm making a million dollars."
Experiments Gone Right
Later, with the panel titled "Experiments Gone Right," FlyCast CEO Dave Kennedy said his aim was simply to talk about what radio has done digitally that's worked, and answer the question: "How do I do this?"
Entercom Director/Digital Operations Amy Van Hook described a successful "Sing Like Taylor Swift" promotion that ran on eight Entercom Country stations -- in part, she said, as an experiment in user-generated content. The seven-week promotion invited listeners to submit videos of themselves singing along with karaoke tracks of songs by Swift.
The contest attracted more than 700 video entries, adding up to thousands of hours of content for listeners to browse through on station websites. The videos generated more than 500,000 views, which, Van Hook said, "we really thought was very successful. We didn't really know what to expect." The contest garnered about 1.5 million votes.
The Swift contest was promoted on the air, and Van Hook said, "On-air still drives these promotions, but social expands that exponentially -- 40 percent of the traffic to the contest was driven by Facebook. Van Hook said the contest could be scaled to a single station by focusing on local artists, or finding another unique angle.
MyLocal.net founder Jason Banks, whose company spun out of Clark Broadcasting, operates the MyMotherLode.com community portals for Sonora, CA. And what MyLocal.net did right, he said, was to treat the site from the beginning as a business -- not an add-on, and not "NTR." Banks said, "Radio has hidden behind that term for many years." He also said he doesn't care for the term "Internet initiative": "Internet initiatives are 10 years ago. It's Internet business."
MyMotherLode.com is treated like a fourth radio station in the Clark cluster, Banks said, with the others driving traffic to it. In the tiny and not-affluent community of Sonora, it draws 2.5 million pageviews monthly.
Alpha Broadcasting Digital Sales Manager Royle Johnson talked about ways to combine search engine marketing with streaming ads and about buying .fm domains for advertiser landing. Unique phone numbers, he said, can help capture those leads, and clients are supplied with Google Analytics account information so they can follow the traffic.