Mobile, Radio, and Monetization

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mobileThere is no doubt in my mind that mobile is the way to go. As the Internet becomes increasingly de-coupled from the computer, easing into its new life as an omnipresent companion, mobile devices are evolving into powerful media consumption tools. As I walk around Cincinnati, I often stream stations from back home or favorites from around the world. I know I’m not alone in this. Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, commented on this in his recent address to the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment show in San Diego.[Quote via BSN.com]:

“I saw mobile go from a futurist fantasy, to a nice-to-have part of company’s gameplan, to a must-have strategic priority.”“You’ve turned clunky handsets into sleek and powerful mini-PCs. You’ve made the Internet mobile, freeing broadband from the desktop and making it possible to imagine a world where the Internet is available to anyone, anywhere, anytime … as long as they’re not driving.”

The trick, as always, is trying to monetize. There are many out there who tout a mythical silver bullet of some sort, but a bit of research shows them to be as mythical as werewolves. It’s the bugaboo of our increasingly diverse age, and one that will be growing  as time proceeds forwards. In reality, I believe it is more a matter of finding the precise strategy that works for your offerings.

This is the age of personalization and customization. In such a time, the concept of a  “one size fits all” approach is rapidly going by the wayside. What made me think of this was a short item in Paid Content: The Economics of Content that asks why there is no “killer” way to make money from mobile music. Tameka Kee, the article’s author, uses three cases to study different approaches that have worked. Here’s the one for our colleagues at Clear Channel:

For Clear Channel, it’s all about ads, including custom branded digital radio stations. “We created Red Star Radio for Macy’s; it targeted 18-24 year olds with special music and other content,” said Paul Miraldi, the company’s SVP of digital programming and marketing. The companies timed the station’s launch to coincide with on- and offline back-to-school campaigns.

The piece also looks at the successes enjoyed by Shazam through its affiliate sales program and Rhapsody with its subscription model. Each of these techniques has worked for one and not the others, and I think that is an important lesson for the radio industry. Each case is unique and so should be each solution. It’s vitally important to keep abreast of what is working for others and see how it can inform or inspire our own efforts.

Mobile and Internet, both deeply entwined with each other nowadays, are the great frontiers of our day. It is up to us to find the working equilibrium for our individual stations and companies. To this end, constant monitoring of all efforts made from within our industry are worth watching be they here in the USA or abroad. Back when I first started writing for this blog, mobile was the big thing in the far East and India. Barely any attention was being paid to it stateside except in the most cursory fashion. Now it’s the Holy Grail.

I’ll continue to do my best to keep our readers appraised of developments in radio and associated technologies as I have from the start. If you now of any interesting news items please pass them along via the comments, email, Twitter or Facebook. If I use it, I’ll give you credit!

Image: gailjadehamilton / CC BY-ND 2.0
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