New Brand Platforms, And Sites Magnified
June 4, 2010: Jim Kerr, VP of strategy at Triton Digital Media, moderated Friday afternoon's Convergence panel on "Building New Brand Platforms From Existing Assets," talking with Fan Appz Inc. founder and CEO Jon Siegal and Wizard of Ads Partner Jeff Sexton. Kerr began by saying radio can embrace its brand leverage online; he said, "There's no more effective way to push pageviews and push attention to digital than through the radio broadcast."
Siegal, heading up social media marketing platform Fan Appz, said that, in social media, "helping the business" may mean building audience, in proving engagement, or monetization. Broadcasters, he said, may bring their "broadcast mentality" into social media and be tempted to turn it into another broadcast venue. But fans want to participate suggesting holes or questions to bring interactivity. "The broadcast mentality," Siegal said, "doesn't work in social media."
Sexton said a platform is "an audience willing to buy your stuff, and a collection of tools for communicating with them." Until now, he said, radio has had a monopoly on streaming music in the car, as the "default option" and only early adopters are using other methods. But, said Sexton, "How long do you think it's going to be until even the masses have alternate ways of listening to streaming any time they want, even in their car?"
Sexton emphasized that radio needs "content worth opting in for" among the competition. He suggested user-generated content may be an answer, even proposing that a station use its spotlight to build an artist's career, and contract to keep a piece of that artist's business.
Later, Siegal noted that more and more information is coming through the social media stream: "Frankly, the stream is getting very busy. It's harder and harder to break through all the clutter." That makes it key to be sure the content is "appropriate and engaging."
Asked whether broadcast radio will disappear, Sexton cited the Haiti text campaign. That was, he said, not a win for social media: It was driven by broadcasters, and SMS was just a back channel.
Sexton said, "If you don't adapt and have something worth broadcasting other than streaming music, you will go away. But I don't think broadcast is going away."
Charles Andrew Whatley, president of MediaBridge One and consultant for MediaSpan Online, headed up the day's last panel discussion, "Sites Magnified." He led off by showing a picture of the leader of the anti-technology Luddites, and told attendees, "If you're here, you're not one."
SEOinhouse.com founder Jessica Bowman said that, for radio, social media :gets people talking about you and aware of you, and it also generates links." She also noted that social may also soon affect search rankings.
About mobile, Limelight Networks CTO, Mobility & Monetization Jonathan Cobb said that, at his firm, "What we've seen our publishers do with mobile is look at it from behavioral point of view." Consumers are on the go, he said, with short attention spans, and those things must be considered in a mobile plan.
Sexton, appearing on his second panel of the day, said, "I really think that if you look at your website as a way to promote your radio station, you're seeing it backwards." He pointed to NPR as a company getting that right -- but Cobb, with NPR as a customer, disagreed, saying, "It's about the platform. Their content is their platform."
But all the panelists agreed -- in a theme that came up again and again at Convergence -- that content is critical. Bowman said, "You need content in order for search engines to understand what your pages should be ranking for." That content should be in place, she said, before search engine optimization efforts begin.
Cobb agreed that content is critical, saying, "It's really about getting as close to your audience as possible."
Whatley averred that, even with all the changes, aggregating audience and selling that to advertisers is still the business radio is in: "It's just a new delivery platform. As long as you're going where the listener is going, you're in the same business you've always been in."