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Radio’s Star More Bright With Video

by Ivan Braiker

Thirty years ago this past summer, the MTV-era kicked off, as most everyone knows, with “Video Killed The Radio Star.” Three decades hence, “Music Television” plays little music, and even though our industry is rapidly evolving, our star is very much alive. Sorry, Buggles. What’s interesting is how intertwined video and radio have become—particularly around sports. For example, local cable outlets are simulcasting sports radio talk shows in many major markets and people are watching—even if there isn’t much of a visual element to the programming.

Another medium—mobile—is poised to take the radio-video coupling even further. In recent weeks, I’ve talked about easy ways for radio to embrace mobile, including SMS and the mobile Web. This week, let’s add MMS—multimedia messaging service—to the mix.

It may be less well known than its similarly-named cousin, but if you’ve ever texted someone a picture you shot on your cell phone, you've already used it. And you’re not alone—although SMS has the greatest reach, MMS is not far behind. Roughly 85 percent of consumers who can send and receive text messages can also receive multimedia—videos or photos—on their cell phones. It’s not just a solution for smartphone users. 

For listener engagement, MMS makes sense: MMS open rates are in excess of 90 percent, and mobile video increases awareness by 250 percent. The possibilities for MMS content are very broad. Here are some tips to take your mobile communications to the multimedia realm:

·         Think about possibilities, not limitations. Messages could include video, slideshows, motion graphics, photos, infographics or audio sent directly to a mobile device via SMS. You’re not bound by a character limit—or really any limits, other than your imagination.

·         But there may be limitations. Make sure you build campaigns that can be seen on the most mobile devices—don’t penalize smartphone users with lowest-common denominator content; likewise, don’t eliminate smartphone users with content that doesn’t render.

·         Be relevant. Just like SMS or Mobile Web content, MMS content needs to be something your listeners actually want on their phone—sports highlights, video “insider” looks at on-air personalities, even video weather reports.

·         Leverage your existing advertising investments. If you have a mobile insiders’ club, use SMS for listeners to opt in. The same for other existing calls-to-action such as QR codes—use the existing infrastructure to offer listeners a free “value add.”

·         Use your data. If you’ve made an investment in customer-relationship management technology, use the data within to invite the right listeners to opt in. If in a previous interaction, a listener indicated she loves basketball but hates football, don’t invite her into the “Mobile Gridiron Video Club.”

·         Choose a trusted partner. Work with a company that has done this before and has the technology and services to deliver the most value.

 Video did not kill the radio star. In fact, with MMS, their relationship has never been stronger.

Ivan Braiker is a former radio CEO who still loves the radio business. He's now the CEO of HipCricket and can be reached at

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